Feb. 7, 2014
RUSTON - After coming up just one win shy of advancing to the Conference USA Tournament in its first year in the league, Louisiana Tech head coach Kevin Sherry focused on depth and athleticism when inking 11 student-athletes to National Letters of Intent for the 2014 signing class.
LA Tech only lost one senior, goalkeeper Caitlin Updyke, so it was no surprise that Sherry and the coaching staff picked up two keepers.
To go along with the young strikers returning, the program added nine other players who have the ability to play midfield and defense on the wings and in the center.
"Our goal was getting players that have athletic ability, that had the right character and work ethic, who are academically gifted and who are really competitive and from winning programs," said Sherry. "I think we achieved our goal. I am very happy about the prospect of this recruiting class working in tandem with last year's talented class."
The move to C-USA proved to be a big step up for the Lady Techsters, but they showed plenty of grit and determination en route to four league wins all coming via shutout.
Replacing Updyke who was in net for all four of those shutouts and who finished her career with the most wins, most shutouts and most saves in program history will be a big key for LA Tech.
The first keeper signed was Anna Lensing from Germany. She stands six-foot-two-inches tall and was part of several regional club teams in her home country.
"[Anna] is a tall goalkeeper who has a strong presence in goal which will help the team combat the constant high ball service into the penalty area you get in college soccer," said Sherry. "We see Anna as someone with great potential who will flourish under coach Wagenaar's coaching."
The other keeper in the signing class is Maren Kreid out of Franklin, Tenn. Kreid was a multi-sport athlete who lettered in basketball and softball before falling in love with soccer as a senior where she earned team mvp.
On the backline, coach Sherry loves speed and he has signed another speedster in Monica Gebler. Gebler lettered in track on top of being a first team all-district selection at Cibola HS in Albuquerque, N.M.
"Monica is a very athletic and speedy right-sided defender who loves to get forward," said Sherry. "Monica's speed and endless running up and down the right side will enable us to play a more offensive counter attack style. She is a natural athlete who has a great passion for the game."
A potential defender to go on the left side is Olivia Millington from England. Millington competed in several international fixtures for England Colleges U19 and was a member of the Preston North End WFC which claimed the 2012 Treble Championship.
"This left-sided option is important so as to give the team a better balance," said Sherry. "I am excited to see Olivia on the left with Monica on the right, giving the team some great energy and a more balanced team shape."
More added depth on the left side of the defense will come from left-footed Corbrielle Boulard. Boulard was named first team all-district in 2013 and averaged five goals and seven assists per season as a defender.
"Corbrielle is a quick and aggressive defender," said Sherry. "She is disciplined, focused, fast and tenacious and is another player who will give the team balance on the left side and someone we can use as a man-to-man marker."
Nicole Dincau is one of two signees that hail from the home state of Louisiana. Dincau lettered four years at St. Thomas More HS where she recorded 44 goals and 19 assists all while primarily playing defense.
She was part of two district championships and earned all-district and all-Acadiana honors after tallying 18 goals and eight assists her senior year.
"Nicole is a standout defender, arguably the best player to come out of Louisiana this year, who is both very athletic and has high technical ability," said Sherry. "She is a top level player who can be the rock around which we build our defense."
Another defender from Lafayette, La. is Haley Laque. Haley lettered at Lafayette HS and was named first team all-district and all-Acadiana her sophomore, junior and senior year and was a member of the division I state championship team.
"Haley is a very intelligent and tough-minded defender," said Sherry. "Haley sees the game well and has the intelligence to make good decisions during the game which is an essential skill for a defender at this level.
"It is a great achievement for us to be signing the best players out of Louisiana and Haley is certainly one of those."
Two players who can play midfield or defense are Sierra Sisco and Sarah Gifford.
Sisco lettered four years at Charlotte HS for her dad Ryan Sisco in Charlotte, Mich. She earned first team all-league, first team all-district, first team all-region and was an all-state honorable mention selection in 2013.
"Sierra has good balance and coordination which will help the team play from the back more this season as a counter foil to the more powerful and aggressive style soccer," said Sherry.
Gifford was another first team all-district selection for three years while registering 40 goals and 42 assists.
"Sarah's reading of the game is very good and she makes good decisions when in possession which is a rare talent in young soccer players," said Sherry. "What she lacks in speed she makes up for with anticipation and game awareness."
At center midfield, Alya Shams joins LA Tech after lettering three years at Southlake Carroll HS in Southlake, Texas. Shams was also part of a top elite club team in the Lone Star state.
"Alya will be the driving force of the team from midfield, breaking play up and surging forward giving the team more stability, aggression and energy from the center," said Sherry. "She will be a central figure in the next phase of this program's development."
Rounding out the group is midfielder Anne Armstrong who was part of back-to-back championships at Peninsula College in the NWAACC. She was an NWAACC all-star with her team being ranked No. 1 in the conference and No. 14 nationally.
"Anne is a strong, athletic midfield player," said Sherry. "Anne is willing to head the ball and has the determination we need to break play up in midfield areas. Coming in as a junior means she will also help give this young team some much needed experience."
LA Tech's spring schedule kicks off on March 15 at the Louisiana Cup at Moore Park in Lafayette, La.
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