Tech Soccer Signs Five Freshmen
Posted Feb 1, 2006 19:35:15
Louisiana Tech head soccer coach Jen Soileau said her 18 signees of the 2005 season was the foundational class for the Lady Techsters’ two-year program. And after recording a seven-game win improvement from Tech’s 2004 inaugural season with those signees, Soileau and assistant coach Rich Stoneman went back to work this off season to create their arsenal even stronger.
Last year, Tech had only two returnees from the inaugural season, as Soileau and Stoneman fielded nearly an entirely new team. Today, Tech inked five more freshmen – Ryan Haney, Ashley Lundberg, Utibe Akpaninyie, Meagan Davis and Jill Medigovich - and Soileau said each one of them has the talent and potential to push the returnees for playing time.
“It was hard to recruit a whole team in one year,” Soileau said. “But we did a good job last year, and now we’re figuring out who our core players are and who is dedicated the most. The five players we signed are as good or better than who we have now. We raised the bar with this class, and I expect all of them to contribute and even start at some point in the season.”
The Lady Techsters will have their leading scorer from last year in Emily Cleaveland returning at forward, along with Hayley Smith and Denise Wilson, but Soileau said incoming freshmen Ryan Haney and Ashley Lundberg should easily add depth to position and challenge them for playing time.
“Ryan comes from one of the most well-known clubs in the country,” Soileau said. “She’s a very technical and versatile player who can play at outside-mid or up top. She has a nose for the goal and can finish, and that’s one reason why we brought her here. We can find a place for her immediately.
“Ashley has a very quick first touch and is great at receiving the ball. She has a lot of speed for one v. one, has a knack for scoring and is a power finisher. She looks to score every time she touches the ball. She’s not a flashy player, but she’s a good finisher and will be a good complement to Emily (Cleaveland), who’s a little more finesse player.”
The Lady Techsters lost Chrissy Haisler at goalie but have Nicole Didier returning and the freshman Medigovich, a 5-11 keeper from San Diego, Calif., looking to compete for the position between the posts.
“Jill has more of the build for a division I keeper, and her height is a definite advantage,” Soileau said. “She can win high balls in crosses, and she’s good in the air. She’s your prototypical division I goalkeeper, and I’m really happy to have her. Several big schools looked at her, but she chose us.”
Leslie Buck, Savanna Russo, Caitlin Crawford and Brittany Davis will return on defense, while Sarah Chovanec, Kathleen McCullough, Katy Garrison, Candace Novak, Laura Williamson, Amy Wolsted and Brook Kelly will fill the midfield.
Then, Soileau added Akpaninyie and Davis to the mix and said both of them have the ability to play anywhere on from the midfield back.
“Utibe (Akpaninyie) is just so fast. Her greatest strength is clearly her speed,” Soileau said. “We recruited her with Florida and Ole Miss, and she chose us. She can play at center-back and outside-back, but we’ll have to see where she fits best. Having her gives us more depth and the speed we lacked to keep up with forwards in the WAC last year. Speed fixes a lot mistakes, and it’ll be good to have her back there.”
“Meagan (Davis) is left footed and can play the outside-back or midfield. She’s very good in the air and is a smart, all-around player. She’s a soccer junkie – one who just can’t get enough of it. If she comes in fit, she’ll give us another option on the back line or at midfield.”
Soileau wrapped up her comments about the signing class with the way she started – noting that versatility may be the greatest strength about her signees.
“Last year we recruited a solid 14 or 15 players who can play, and this year we added more because these kids have so much versatility,” Soileau said. “When we got into the WAC last year, we lacked speed, but these kids, especially Utibe, will help add all of that and more. A lot of these players are multi-position players and give us more options.”
The Lady Techsters finished the 2005 season with a 7-10 record, and next year will be only the third season in school history.