(Pictured Above: Florida State alum Megan Connolly representing the Republic of Ireland Women’s National Team)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Eight current and former Florida State women’s soccer athletes will represent their country on the biggest stage as the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup begins on Thursday morning in Australia and New Zealand.

The Noles’ eight athletes to play in the World Cup leads the NCAA, and the Seminoles are the only team in the country to have multiple current collegiate athletes on a World Cup roster. The four current athletes include: Maria Alagoa (Portugal), Jody Brown (Jamaica), Onyi Echegini (Nigeria) and Heather Payne (Ireland). Former Seminoles Gabby Carle (Canada), Megan Connolly (Ireland), Cheyna Matthews (Jamaica) and Gloriana Villalobos (Costa Rica) will also make an appearance on the world stage.

Brown is the lone current Seminole to have already appeared in a World Cup. At the age of 17, Brown was a part of Jamaica’s first-ever World Cup team in 2019 and made her debut against Brazil. Alagoa, Echegini and Payne will all be making their World Cup debuts. These four were an integral part of getting the Seminoles back to the College Cup for the third-straight season in 2022. Echegini and Brown led the team with 11 goals and eight goals, respectively. Payne added four goals and four assists while Alagoa added three goals and three assists. The four combined for 59 starts last season, and Brown, Echegini and Payne were all named to the All-ACC team following the 2022 season.

Carle (2017-21) and Matthews (2014-15) return for their second World Cup as both were on their respective national team rosters in 2019. Matthews made two starts for Jamaica while Carle made one start for Canada in the 2019 World Cup. Both Jamaica and Canada were knocked out in the Group Stage. Connolly (2015-19) and Villalobos (2017-18) will each be making their World Cup debut.

The World Cup begins on Thursday with four Seminoles taking the stage on day one. Payne and Connolly will play at 6 a.m. as Ireland prepares to take on host Australia. Echegini and Carle will face off at 10:30 p.m. on Thursday night as Nigeria will face off with Canada. Both matches can be seen live on FOX. Group Stage matches will take place until Aug. 3. The Round of 16 will begin on Aug. 5. All matches can be seen live on either FOX or FS1.

NCAA Programs With the Most Players Represented on World Cup Rosters

1. Florida State (8)
2. Stanford (7)
3. North Carolina (6)
T4. California (5)
T4. Florida (5)
T4. Georgetown (5)
T4. Penn State (5)
T8. USF (4)
T8. USC (4)
T8. Tennessee (4)