Published May 3, 2022
Written By:     Cassidy Hettesheimer
                South Region Contributor



The WPSL Southeast Conference will look different this summer though with some key familiar faces. Two expansion teams join the ranks as Chattanooga FC reenters the league and TN Force FC moves up after playing at the U21 level last summer.


However, the conference’s 2021 player award honorees will provide a familiar base for Nashville Rhythm FC’s roster as it looks to repeat last season’s success one which included a Southeast Conference Regular Season title.



"The whole WPSL as a whole is very, very competitive... [the returning players] know that kind of landscape, they know how training goes, they know how games go, so just having that experience to relay that to the new group of players coming in that have not played in this environment before - its completely invaluable," Scott Davidson, Nashville head coach, said. 



During the 2021 season, Cumberland University defender Becca Campbell held down the Rhythm’s backline and earned the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year award. 


Meanwhile, Keiser University midfielder Kyoka Koshijima received the conference’s 2021 Offensive Player of the Year honors, with four goals and two assists. After returning to collegiate play, Koshijima continued in her WPSL form by earning NAIA All-American Second-Team and reaching the quarterfinals of the NAIA tournament. 


Campbell and Koshijima faced off in the NAIA tournament in November 2021, with both players playing all 90 minutes of Keiser's 2-0 second-round victory.


The conference’s leading goal scorer for 2021, Peyton Depriest, also saw her WPSL dominance spill into the fall collegiate season. The Middle Tennessee senior forward, who scored seven goals in ten matches for the Rhythm, was named to the All-Conference USA First-Team for the fourth time in her college career and also picked up her third nod as Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year.


Campbell, Koshijima, and Depriest are all returning to play with Nashville for the 2022 season, looking to pick up where last season ended after a 7-1-2 run. 


The Rhythm veterans will be accompanied by several new players with equally-impressive college pedigrees. Midfielder Yuki Watari and forward Keito Ido are set to make their Rhythm debut after winning the 2021 NAIA title with the University of Tennessee Southern.


Watari comes off a collegiate performance of 19 goals, 14 assists, and eight game-winning goals that earned her the honors of 2021 NAIA Player of the Year and the 2021 NAIA Women’s Soccer National Championship MVP


The Rhythm will also be led by head coach Scott Davidson who returns for his fifth season with the team. Davidson won Southeast Conference Coach of the Year in 2019 and 2021.



Nashville’s veterans and newcomers will take the field together on Sunday, May 22 at 5 p.m. CT to kick off the 2022 season at home against Chattanooga FC.



"It's a great kind of learning curve right now for the players coming in," Davidson said. "We know [who] the players that we've got returning and the [new] players that we've brought in.. they're proven winners and that's something we want.. to create that environment for these players in Nashville just so that they can be constantly challenged and constantly pushed so that one we get to the end of the WPSL season and they have to step into their college season again, they're 100 percent ready."