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Fierce Competition to be Everton Ladies Number 1

Could new signing be the starting goalie or will homegrown hero Kirstie Levell keep her spot?

FC Bayern Muenchen v Paris St. Germain - UEFA Women’s Champions League
New signing Tinja-Riikka Korpela played for Bayern and has Champions League experience
Photo by Johannes Simon/Getty Images,

Everton Ladies have undergone quite an overhaul this summer, with five new signings — but one of the most exciting changes could be in between the sticks.

Back up goalie Becky Flaherty departed in the offseason and according to an interview for a Finnish website, new manager Willie Kirk asked the head coach of the Finnish women’s team if she knew of a good goalkeeper. She recommended Finland’s number one, Tinja-Riikka Korpela, and from there, things moved quickly.

At 33 years old, Korpela is the oldest player on the squad by several years and she comes with some very impressive experience:

  • 83 national team caps
  • Played professional in Sweden, Norway and Germany
  • 6 championship titles in three different countries.
  • Won German Championships with Bayern Munich in 2015 and 2016

Korpela could be a game changer but previous starting keeper Kirstie Levell is academy grown at Everton and worked her way up to make her debut with the club in 2015. She helped the Toffees win the 2017 Spring Series to see the Blues promoted back to the first tier but then lost her starting place to Lizzie Durack for the 2017/2018 season.

Durack left Everton for Chelsea in 2018 and ended up being a 3rd or 4th string goalie and only played 3 cup games before recently retiring from football at only 25 to work in finance. It’s worth noting that at one point Chelsea had five keepers whereas Everton only has two.

Levell made 22 appearances for the 2018/2019 season and was certainly tested quite a lot. As of March, Levell had the 3rd most saves in the WSL with 61. Out of 20 league games, the squad kept three clean sheets, with a CS% of 15% and the team finished in second to last place.

Manager Kirk certainly has a tough decision on his hands, but bringing in a new keeper with Champions League experience shows that the team is looking to climb their way up the table in a highly competitive WSL.

Korpela also has the distinction of possibly being the first Everton player to be openly gay while still playing the game. Former Everton player Thomas Hitzlsperger came out as gay after he retired.

Korpela is also is studying for a UEFA coaching degree. Who is the new goalkeeping coach for Everton? Good question! Former goalkeeping coach Jennifer Herst departed the club in the offseason and a new coach has not been announced at this time.

This will be a crucial season for Everton during a season where new teams Manchester United and Tottenham will be making the WSL even more challenging. Having the right goalkeeper can make a huge difference and it will be interesting to see if Korpela or Levell will be Everton’s number one.

Everton Ladies v Arsenal Women - SSE Women’s FA Cup - Semi Final - Marine Travel Arena
Kirstie Levell
Photo by Dave Thompson/PA Images via Getty Images