Valparaiso University head women's soccer coach Stephen Anthony has announced the addition of eight players as members of his incoming freshman class for the 2006 season. Mele Cabral, Courtney Gwinn, Ashlie Harder, Sarah Jewell, Jaclyn Kondratko, Anneliese Michl, Alyse Venticinque, and Jessie White will join a Crusader quad that won the Mid-Continent Conference championship in 2005.
Valparaiso is expected to return nine of its 11 starters from the 2005 team that went 12-8-1 and won the Mid-Continent Tournament before losing to defending national champion Notre Dame in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The seven departing seniors include a pair of four-year starters and All-Conference award winners in Emily King (Third Team All-Great Lakes Region) and Allison Swanson.
"We have met our goals with this recruiting class by filling key spots lost from our graduated players," Anthony said. ?Our focus in recruiting players was to find individuals that were great fits to our style of play, meshed well with our current team, share the same core value system and are committed to continue to elevating our soccer program. These student athletes are tremendous individuals with outstanding personalities on and off the field and will add to the overall technical ability and athleticism of the team. These eight players fit our goals and will elevate the Valparaiso soccer program and our fans will enjoy watching them during their careers."
Cabral is a 5'8" goalkeeper from Boulder, Colo. The Fairview High School product earned First Team All-Centennial League honors in 2005. She was a 2004-2005 Boulder Daily Camera All-Region First Team pick and plays club soccer for Colorado Soccer Academy ranked by Soccer America as the 20th best youth club in the country. Mele was the player of the match during her State Cup semifinal contest on the way to leading her team to the Colorado State Cup Championship in 2005.
Anthony on Cabral
?Mele will add to our team immediately by challenging for time as a freshmen and continuing our strength in the area of goalkeeping. Her club experience, attitude, and determination will elevate the team's work rate and performance while securing the future of the program in goal."
Cabral on Valpo
?Valparaiso has the perfect balance between Division 1 soccer and a small school setting. The team has great chemistry and everyone is excited to be a part of Valpo soccer."
Gwinn is a 5'7" defender from Evansville, Ind. A First Team All-City selection for Harrison High School, where she was also a team captain. She also captained the Evansville Elite club team and a member of the Indiana State Olympic Development team in 2004.
Anthony on Gwinn
?Courtney will add depth to our back line and challenge for time this fall due to her aggressive play and club/ODP experience. Her ability to play physical in a central position should provide depth to our back line and support to our midfielders."
Gwinn on Valpo
?I visited several schools and chose Valpo because it was the best fit for me both academically and athletically. I was very impressed with how welcoming and friendly the girls on the team were during my visits, and I also liked the mutual respect the girls and coaches had for each other."
Harder is a 5'4" midfielder from Centennial, Colo. She received All-Conference and All-State Honors in 2005 while playing for Lutheran High School of the Rockies. Harder plays her club soccer for the Colorado Rush.
Anthony on Harder
?Ashlie will bring a challenging attitude and mentality to Valpo Soccer. She will compete and work hard and provide the opportunity for us to play wide and possess in our midfield. Her work rate will help defensively and her club experience will certainly enable her to bring the attitude that has helped our program grow and succeed the last few years."
Harder on Valpo
?I chose Valpo because the administration and coaches took the extra time to call me several times and get to know me as a person instead of just another student. I also liked the team chemistry when I visited and the campus offers everything I need for my future."
Jewell is a 5'4" forward from Kansas City, Mo. She was a Suburban Mid-Eight Conference First Team selection twice as well as the league's Offensive Player of the Year in 2004 for Park Hill High School. She plays her club soccer for the KC Dynamos and helped her team win the Region II championships and compete at Nationals in 2005. Sarah was a member of the '87 Missouri State Olympic Development Team from 2000 ? 2005.
Anthony on Jewell
?Sarah will add depth to our attack and complement the players that did so well in '05. She brings a tremendous amount of experience from her Club Team and will make an immediate impact providing speed, athleticism, and versatility to our attack. Sarah will also bring a mentality of hard work, aggressive and never-quit soccer."
Jewell on Valpo
?I love Valpo because the soccer team has a really strong bond, the atmosphere is great, and I can't picture myself anywhere else. Also, I like the smaller classes because I like to get to know the professors if I need help."
Kondratko is a 5'5" midfielder from Granger, Ind. The Most Valuable Player in the Northern Indiana Conference for Penn High School, she was an Honorable Mention All-State pick for the Kingsmen. She plays club soccer for FC Indiana and a member of the Indiana State Olympic Development team.
Anthony on Kondratko
?Jackie will add depth to our midfield and challenge for playing time this fall. Jackie's club experience and leadership will fit in well in our style of play and enable us to play through the midfield."
Kondratko on Valpo
?I chose Valpo because I knew that it would be a great mix for me of excellent academics and athletics. Another major influence on my decision was how welcoming and friendly the girls on the soccer team were."
Michl is a 5'6" forward and midfielder from Deerfield, Ill. An All-Conference selection for Stevenson High School, she was an Honorable Mention All-Sectional pick as a sophomore. She plays club soccer for Eclipse Select ranked by Soccer America as the ninth best youth club in the country.
Anthony on Michl
?Anneliese is a versatile, technical player that will play in the midfield or as a part of the forward line for us. She is a very aggressive player with the ability to hold on the ball under pressure. Ani will fit in well and add to our possession in the midfield and our attack."
Michl on Valpo
?I chose Valpo because I wanted to go to a small school where I could get to know my professors and classmates. After meeting the team and seeing their competitive spirit I knew I would fit right it."
Venticinque is a 5'3" forward from Shelby, Mich. A First Team All-State pick for Notre Dame Preparatory High School, she also earned First Team All-Region and First Team All-District accolades. Alyse was named a top-20 player by the Oakland Press in 2005. She plays club soccer with Vardar III and helped her team win the State Cup Championships from 2001 - 2005.
Anthony on Venticinque
?Alyse's athleticism and speed will provide us with opportunities to stretch the game or play wide. Alyse will enable us to play with wide midfielders or add another player to our attack. Her club experience will be an asset as she brings the experience of playing in big games against other top teams."
Venticinque on Valpo
?I made my decision to attend Valpo because of its great academic reputation and I wanted to complete my education in a Christian environment. I feel my abilities and style of play will contribute positively to Valpo's soccer team. I'm privileged to have been accepted to play for Coach Anthony and his successful program."
White is a 5'2" midfielder from Buffalo Grove, Ill. An All-Conference selection for Buffalo Grove High School, she also was named to the All-Area Team. She plays her club soccer with Michl for Eclipse Select ranked by Soccer America as the ninth best youth club in the country.
Anthony on White
"Jessie will contribute immediately in our midfield. Her creativity and athleticism will help the program sustain the level of play we had in our midfield last season. Losing two seniors from our 2005 squad will be difficult to replace, but Jessie's abilities and play making skills will certainly be a step in the right direction and will continue to allow us to possess and play through the midfield."
White on Valpo
?I chose Valpo because it has a small tight-nit college community and consistent academic excellence, but also offers division 1 sports to athletes."