LAKE CHARLES – 2018 National Signing Day is upon us and the fax machine at Hodges Fieldhouse is burning up with faxes from nine new Cowgirls. Head coach Drew Fitzgerald and his staff have matched last year's class as one of the largest to come through the McNeese women's soccer program.
Fitzgerald, in his second year at the helm- managed to turn the program around for its first winning season since 2008, and first 12-win season since 2007, producing the Southland Conference's Player of the Year and Forward of the Year, Goalkeeper of the Year, and Defender of the Year. Along with conference accolades, the Cowgirls also earned three spots on the All-LWSA team including Player of the Year in Savannah LaRicci and Freshman of the Year in Emma Roccaforte.
Fitzgerald said about the incoming class, "Nick has again worked tirelessly to put together a large and very deep recruiting class. The players coming in will help fill the void left by our exceptional graduating senior class. This class continues our trend of bringing in talent from all over the country (and Canada) while we've also added in-state talent. Combined with a strong returning group, we will have a lot of talent to utilize."
"On paper this class is fairly heavy in forwards, largely because when you have to replace the Southland Conference Player of the Year and the team's leading goal scorer you need to have depth. But the forwards in the group are also flexible players capable of playing in multiple positions and in many different systems. We look forward to figuring out to best use each player's abilities."
"Along with the forwards, we also bring in a goal keeper from Maryland that is incredibly athletic, an outside back that fits our preferred style of play nearly perfectly, a pair of technically gifted midfielders who are also ball winners and a very versatile player we believe can be utilized in almost any position except goal keeper."
CARISSA ADAMS | FORWARD | QUARTZ HILL, CA
Carissa Adams comes to McNeese from the Golden State of California and will be the sixth Cowgirl from the west coast on the 2018 squad. Adams led the Quartz Hill High School women's soccer team to back-to-back undefeated seasons in 2015-16 and 2016-17. In 49 games played in high school, Adams put up 48 goals and 12 assists. On the club level, Adams netted 43 goals and earned 16 assists as a member of the LA Premier and SoCal Rush. She was honored for her hard work in the classroom, earning honor roll and being chosen for the Southern Section California Interscholastic Federation. She is currently a member of the Los Angeles Premier Futbol Club of the US Soccer Development Academy. Carissa is the second in her family to play collegiate soccer, as her sister Alexa plays soccer at University of Texas at Austin.
Fitzgerald on Adams: Carissa is coming to us from Los Angeles Premier FC's Development Academy program. She's a physically strong forward who is always a goal scoring threat. She's very athletic and can play on the wing or centrally. Good on the ball, she is also very dangerous making weak side runs off the ball. She's the type of player who can have a quiet match but still score the game winner or who can go off for multiple goals. We're excited to add another quality California player to our roster.
MACAYLA BASS | FORWARD | MADISONVILLE, LOUISIANA
Macayla Rose Bass is the lone Louisiana signee, reigning from Madisonville, LA. Bass attends Mandeville High School, where she has succeeded as a four-year varsity athlete and four-year 4.0 student. Bass plays for the local Mandeville Soccer Club, a team in which Bass helped lead to the state championships and finish as a regional quarter finalist.
Fitzgerlad on Bass: Macayla is coming to us from Mandeville Lakers Elite Club team. She's a talent that we first saw at one of our ID camps. She is athletically gifted and very coachable. She's capable of both holding the ball up to give the team time to transition or getting in behind the defense on her own. We think she is a versatile athlete that can play in multiple positions, although she has primarily been a forward in her career.
GABRIELLE ANN CHRISTY | GOALKEEPER | PERRY HALL, MARYLAND
Gabrielle Ann Christy is headed to Lake Charles all the way from Perry Hall, Maryland, where the goalkeeper played for Notre Dame Prep and Bethesda Soccer Club. At Notre Dame Prep, Christy was a part of a team that finished three-straight seasons with trips to the championships. Her achievements on the pitch earned her first team all-conference.
Fitzgerald on Christy: Gabie is coming to us from Bethesda Soccer Club's ECNL program in Bethesda, Maryland. We've been really impressed with her shot stopping and ability to cover the entire goal. We've seen her cover the top corners of the goal and essentially steal goals from the other team. She's fearless in the net and is an outgoing personality, both on and off the field.
DELANA FRIESEN | FORWARD | ALBERTA, CANADA
Delana Friesen is a second-generation soccer player from Ardrossan, Alberta, Canada has been playing top division soccer since the summer of 2012 with the club Sherwood Park Phoenix. In the league, Friesen was a top scorer who when her team traveled to play in a Costa Rican Soccer Tournament- earned Most Valuable Player for her efforts. Friesen's skills do not go unnoticed, in 2017, she was selected by the Alberta Soccer Association to join FC Edmonton to participate in Canada Soccer's REX Program, as a part of the program, Friesen was chosen to tour and play in the United Kingdom representing Team Alberta.
Fitzgerald on Friesen: Delana is coming to us from FC Edmonton's Regional Excel Program in Edmonton, Canada. Delana is a player who makes really creative off the ball runs and just seems to find ways to get in behind defenses. She is a quality finisher who picks her spots and doesn't just shoot. She is a strong student in the classroom, but also on the field. It shows in her clever runs and the way she reads the game.
CAROLINE SOPHIE FRITSCH | MIDFIELDER | SPRING, TEXAS
Caroline Sophie Fritsch is no stranger to the Southland Conference, as Fritsch is following in her mother's footsteps, who played volleyball at Stephen F Austin. Fristch, a native of Spring, Texas, comes to McNeese from the Woodlands High School. As a senior midfielder for the Highlanders, Fritsch has helped her team to a 10-2-2 start in the 2017-18 season. Fritsch was recently selected as the Player of the Game by MaxPreps in the Highlander's 1-0 win over the Bulldogs in January. She is a member of the Houston Dash Club Soccer team and has taken part in a mission trip in which Fritsch and her group traveled to Costa Rica to help build a school for the community.
Fitzgerald on Fritsch: Caroline comes to us from the Houston Dash (formerly Rush) Development Academy program. She really caught our attention at a McNeese ID camp where her skill on the ball and big personality made a very positive impression. She plays the game with an edge defensively and her distribution and general comfort with the ball give her a strong midfield presence.
HAYLEY HALLIDAY | DEFENDER | CYPRESS, TEXAS
Hayley Halliday will be the first in her family to play at the college level, coming to McNeese from Cypress, Texas. The 2015 District 17-6A Newcomer of the Year currently attends Cypress Ranch High School in Texas and plays for Challenege Soccer Club ECNL. Over the past four years, Halliday has helped lead her team to the ECNL Playoffs Showcase, North American Cup, and back to the Showcase, and now in 2018- the squad is currently in second place on the hunt for a spot to the ECNL Nationals. Before moving to Houston in 2014, Halliday played for Austin United Capital Soccer Club and Lonestar Soccer Club in Austin for five years.
Fitzgerald on Halliday: Hayley is coming to us from Challenge Soccer Club's ECNL program in Houston, TX. We love her versatility as a player and her willingness to take on any challenge. We've seen her playing winger, outside back, center back and midfielder in our time recruiting her. She is athletic, has good pace, and is hard working and very coachable. She's a player we are confident can handle adversity and come out stronger for it.
ISABEL VICTORIA KEMBEL | FORWARD | LYNNWOOD, WASHINGTON
Isabel Victoria Kembel is a northwest girl who will be key in adding goals to the stat sheet next year. Reigning from Lynnwood, Washington, Kembel is a member of the Greater Seattle Surf Club team that plays in the National League. Kembel's club team is currently ranked #7 in the league, thanks to her influential success on the pitch that helped guide her team to the championships. While playing for the Greater Seattle Surf Club, Kembel was twice honored as MVP and Player of the Week. In Lynnwood, she attends Mountlake Terrace High School where she is graduating with honors, a highly selective four year STEM diploma, and membership as a National Honors Society member for all four years.
Fitzgerald on Kembel: Isa is coming to us from Greater Seattle Surf Soccer Club in Seattle, WA which competes in the National League. She caught our attention because the thing she does best is score goals. She finds ways to get herself in dangerous areas. She has a deceptively quick first step that allows her to turn defenders and once she gets in she just has a nose for finishing. She uses both feet well, which makes her unpredictable, and as her club coach put it, "she is tenacious in front of the goal."
BROOKE MALLORY | MIDFIELDER | MAGNOLIA, TEXAS
Brooke Mallory is the newest Texas-raised Cowgirl, joining the team as a four-year letterman at Magnolia High School. At Magnolia, Mallory and her team advanced to the District Championships three consecutive years. As a freshman, Mallory lead her team to the District 5A Quarter Finals, and to the playoffs both her sophomore and junior year. In both her sophomore and junior year, Mallory was awarded District MVP, in addition to garnering academic all-district and first-team all-district as well. Over her career, Mallory netted 28 goals and earned 16 assists. Her success doesn't stop on the pitch, as Mallory is a member of the National Honors Society and the Mu Alpha Theta Math Organization; she also participates in the National Charity League. In 2008, Mallory joined Challenge Soccer Club and has been a starter ever since- her skills earned her a spot on the year-up squad for a national appearance in 2014. The team's national appearance was the first of three-straight for Mallory and her teammates.
Fitzgerald on Mallory: Brooke comes to us from Challenge Soccer Club's ECNL program in Houston, TX. We recruited her after seeing her dominate the game from a central midfield position. She's great in the air, both with attacking and defensive headers, is a ball winner and can comfortably join the attack. She's recently been playing center back for her club team, and does a great job there. Her ability to play in the midfield or the backline are huge plusses for us and we are excited to add her versatility along with her tremendous talent.
NATALYA RAMIREZ | DEFENDER | DALLAS, TEXAS
Natalya Ramirez is a signee who will be key in adding to the already quick Cowgirl offense next season. Ramirez was named offensive most valuable player after her top-of-the-line season at Duncanville High School in Duncanville, Texas. Ramirez stands at only 5'2", but her fiery speed and quick skills have helped her lead the Panthers to an 8-3-1 start this season. Last year, Ramirez was part of a team that not only won the District 7 title in Texas, but also won in the first round of the UIL 6A regionals. A member of the FC Dallas Academy since 2012, Ramirez likes to give back to her community by visiting and assisting the local nursing homes.
Fitzgerald on Ramirez: Natalya is coming to us from FC Dallas's Development Academy program in Dallas, TX. She is a technical, quick outside back who can get up and join the attack. She actually reminds us a lot of one of our current outside backs in both her ability to keep possession in tight spaces, connect passes and also in her speed and quickness. Natalya is another player who attended our ID camp and made a great impression. We are excited about adding her ability to our backline.
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