FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – On Wednesday, 10 outstanding recruits, including the first player from in-town Coconino High School since 2004, signed their National letters of intent and officially joined the Northern Arizona soccer program as part of National Signing Day. After missing out on the Big Sky conference tournament for the first time in four years, the Lumberjacks will lose nine graduating seniors, of whom these 10 additions will help replace.
"We are extremely pleased with the players that we signed," said head coach Andre Luciano. "This group is by far one of the most athletic group of players we've ever brought in based on pure pace and athleticism. They understand what they're getting into and they're committed to elevating the program back to where we usually are in the Big Sky."
The Lumberjacks finished the 2011 season fifth in the Big Sky with a 3-9-7 overall record and a 2-2-3 conference mark. One of the biggest factors for their struggles this past season was their inability to score goals when needed, totaling just 20 goals in 19 matches. As a result, the Lumberjacks registered seven ties, a Big Sky record, with nine of their games reaching overtime, totaling 157:25 minutes of extra time in 17 overtime periods. In addition, the team will lose seniors Sam Monahan and Jenna Samora, their top two goal scorers and 2011 All-Big Sky First Team selections. In 2012, the Lumberjacks will return just three players who scored at least one goal in 2011. Freshman Sarah Tarver, a 2011 All-Big Sky honorable mention selection, sophomore Elinor Priest and junior Laura Johnson will bring four combined goals between them into next season.
Addressing their offensive needs, eight of the 10 recruits are attackers in the forward and midfield positions. Five of the recruits head to Flagstaff with 259 high school goals scored between them, with Torey Braly (Cottonwood, Ariz./Mingus HS) leading the way with 117. Joining Braly on the offensive prowl are four players from the state of Nevada (Alexia Gonzalez (Las Vegas, Nev./Liberty HS), Cassidy McLean (Henderson, Nev./Green Valley HS), Sarah Pate (Henderson, Nev./Coronado), Haley Wingender (Henderson, Nev./Bishop Gorman HS)). Luciano also brings in a pair of local products in Lauren Doud (Phoenix, Ariz./Pinnacle HS) and Demi Schmieder (Flagstaff, Ariz./Coconino HS) and a member of the Elite Clubs National League champion San Diego Surf club team, Nicole Sherwin (San Diego, Calif./Torrey Pines HS).
"As a group, they've scored a lot of goals," Luciano said. "These attacking players that we picked up will bring a lot of pace to our team. We're going to be a really fast team next year."
Whereas last year's recruiting focus was on the defensive backline following the loss of three starters, sophomores Alana D'Onofrio, Kathryn Wertz and Shawnee Morgan and true freshmen Diane Buzzard, Mary Harrah and Emily Roth all made at least five starts in 2011. Add in the impending return of senior Georgia Foltz from a season-ending knee injury, only one addition was made to the backline in Emily Wadell (Yucaipa, Calif./Yucaipa HS).
Natalie Gilbertson (Las Vegas, Nev./Centennial HS) rounds out the 2012 class and will provide depth at the goalkeeper position behind 2011 All-Big Sky honorable mention sophomore Lauren Weaver.
A native of Las Vegas, Luciano went back to his roots to recruit the majority of this year's class. Gilbertson, Gonzalez, McLean, Pate and Wingender all come from the Las Vegas Premier soccer club team, who won the state championship four times in the last six years, and is coached by Ivan Farris, a former club coach of Luciano. This marks the first time five players from the same club team enter the program at the same time since five players from the Southbank Ladybugs were part of "The Foundation" class of 2007.
"The Las Vegas kids played for Ivan Farris, one of my former club coaches in my youth, so I have a lot of trust into what he says about these girls," Luciano said. "They're good representatives of this program on and off the field, as are all of our girls."
The Lumberjacks are expected to return 20 players for the 2012 season in addition to this highly accomplished group of incoming freshmen, providing a bright future for the NAU soccer program.
"Everybody's recruits look good on paper," Luciano said. "It's really when they come into preseason that I'll know how ready they are. But I will say that we're excited about this group. I'm excited about what our current players are doing, and I think good things are in store for the Jacks in the next couple of years."
2012 Soccer Signing Class:
Torey Braly F 5-7 Cottonwood, Ariz./Mingus
Plans to major in Spanish...4.00 high school GPA and ranked ninth in her high school class...Member of her high school National Honor Society and Student Council...Arizona Regents Scholarship recipient...Four-year letter winner and starter, two-year team captain in soccer at Mingus HS...Also competed in track at Mingus...Team won soccer 4A-II state championship in 2010 and reached the state semifinals in 2011...Named the Grand Canyon Region and AZ Coaches Association Division 4A-II Player of the Years in 2011...Selected to Arizona Republic 4A First Team All-State, Division 4A-II First Team All-State and All 4A First Team in 2011...School record holder in goals scored in a season as a freshman with 17, goals scored in a season with 39 and goals scored in a game with six...Was the 2011 Division III 300 meter intermediate hurdle state champion in track...School record holder in 3000 meter hurdles at 46.14 seconds and part of the school record 4x100 relay team which finished runner-up in the state at 50.10 seconds...Also played for Verde Valley Venom club soccer team...Participated at the NAU soccer camp...Daughter of Doug and Stella Braly...One older sister, Deserata...Sister, Deserata, currently attends NAU and plays on the club soccer team.
Lauren Doud M 5-8 Phoenix, Ariz./Pinnacle
Plans to major in exercise science with intention of going into physical therapy...Member of her high school National Honor Society, Society of Women Scholars, Student Government, Freshmen Mentors and Principal's List...Three-year letter winner and starter, one-year team captain in soccer at Pinnacle HS...Team won soccer 5A-II state championship in 2010-11, finished second in the state in 2008-09...Named Desert Valley First Team All-Region, East Valley Tribune Second Team All-State in 2011...Received honorable mention All-Pima Region in 2009...Received Pinnacle HS "Heart Award" in 2011 and "Freshman of the Year" in 2009...Also played for SC Del Sol club soccer team...Club team was state runner-up in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011...Club team was also a Elite Club National League Challenge B finalist...Daughter of Mark and Jean Doud...One younger sister, Morgan...Cousin, Elizabeth, played soccer at Northwestern.
Natalie Gilbertson GK 5-7 Las Vegas, Nev./Centennial
Plans to study physical therapy...3.80 weighted high school GPA, ranked 120th out of 675 students in her class...Member of yearbook club and is receiving the honors diploma...Four-year letter winner, three-year starter and one-year team captain in soccer at Centennial HS...Team won state championship in 2009 and was state runner-up in 2011...Named the team defensive playoff MVP in 2011 and Centennial HS Athlete of the Month in January 2012...Also played for Premier SC club soccer team...Club team is three-time state champions...Daughter of Todd Gilbertson and LeeAnn Mandarino...Father, Todd, played football at University of Nebraska at Kearney.
Alexia Gonzalez M 5-7 Las Vegas, Nev./Liberty
Plans to study business...4.60 high school GPA, ranked 15th out of 442 students in her class...Member of her high school National Honor Society, Student Council and AP club...Three-year starter and one-year team captain in soccer at Liberty HS...Her team is Academic State Champions...Was a scholar athlete, MVP and Offensive Player of the Year at Liberty HS...Also played for Las Vegas Premier '94 White club soccer team...Club team is four-time state champions and champions of the Player Showcase, College Showcase, Wolfpack Invitational, Elite League, Coaches Class and Mayors Cup...Awarded her club team's MVP in 2009-10...Played in the NAU camp all-star game...Daughter of Javier and Martha Gonzalez...Two older sisters, Yania and Areli, and one younger sister, Aridahi...All three of her sisters played club soccer.
Cassidy McLean F 5-2 Henderson, Nev./Green Valley
Plans to study anthropology...3.489 high school GPA, ranked 98th out of 667 students in her class...Has had a 3.50 GPA every year between 2008-11...Three-year letter winner, four-year starter and one-year team captain in soccer at Green Valley HS...Helped team compile a 47-14-4 record in her first three years...Team won Class AAAA NIAA state championship in 2011...Team was the Southeast Division champions in 2010 and 2011 and Sunrise Region Conference champions in 2011...All Southeast Division selection in 2010 and 2011...All Sunrise Region and All State selection in 2011...February 2011 Athlete of the Month...Also played for Las Vegas Premier '94 White club soccer team...Club team is a four-time state champion in 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2011...Club team also was the College Showcase champions in 2010 and 2011, Players Showcase champions in 2011, Soccer at the Summit champions in 2010 and Wolfpack Invitational champions in 2010...Daughter of James and Mary Ann McLean...Two older brothers, Dustin and Greg, two older sisters, Marguerite and Deanna, and one younger sister, Callie...Father, James, went to undergraduate and graduate school at NAU...Brother, Dustin, played lacrosse at Nevada, Reno.
Sarah Pate F 5-5 Henderson, Nev./Coronado
Plans to major in education...Three-year letter winner in soccer and two-year letter winner in tennis at Coronado HS...Team was division champs twice and regional champs twice as well as state runner-up once in her career...Named First Team Southeast Division, First Team Sunrise Region and First Team All-State...Received team offensive MVP award and also named a scholar athlete...Also played for Las Vegas Premier White club soccer team...Club team is a two-time state champion...Named club team MVP...Member of two-time regional champion tennis team at Coronado and team also was a state runner-up...Daughter of David and Deborah Pate...Two older brothers, Dakota and Colton...Father, David, was a tennis pro...Both of her brothers, Dakota and Colton, played tennis at Idaho State...Cousin, Christian, played golf at Odessa College.
Demi Schmieder F/M 5-2 Flagstaff, Ariz./Coconino
Undecided on major...3.50 high school GPA...Member of the Coconino Institute of Technology...Four-year letter winner and starter, two-year captain in soccer and three-year letter winner and starter, two-year captain in volleyball at Coconino HS...Team was in the top-16 in the state in 2009 and 2011 and was a state semifinalist in 2010...Holds school records for most goals in a season with 22 and most hat tricks in a season with three...In 2011, named All-State Arizona 4A honorable mention, Grand Canyon Region First Team and Arizona Daily Sun All-City First Team...In 2010, named Arizona Daily Sun All-City Player of the Year, Grand Canyon Player of the Year and Grand Canyon Region First Team...In 2009, named Arizona Daily Sun All-City First Team and Grand Canyon Region Second team...Also played for Flagstaff Soccer Club team...Club team was the Las Vegas Premier SC Invite and Blackhawks Invite champs in 2011 as well as Northern Arizona invite champs and Las Vegas Premier SC invite semi-finalist in 2010...Named the Flagstaff Soccer Club U17G Player of the Year in 2010...Made the all-star team at NAU summer camp in 2009 and 2011...Daughter of Mike and Brendi Schmieder...One older brother, Devon, and one younger sister, Dayli...Father, Mike, wrestled at NAU...Brother, Devon, wrestled at Mesa State...Cousin, Kristen, was a gymnast at UA.
Nicole Sherwin M/F 5-5 San Diego, Calif./Torrey Pines
Plans to study health care or biomedical sciences...4.00 high school GPA...Member of her high school's National Honor Society, California Scholarship Foundation and National Hispanic Recognition Program...Four-year letter winner, three-year starter and one-year team captain in soccer at Torrey Pines HS...Team won the state championship and CIF in 2011...Team was also a CIF semifinalist in 2010 and finalist in 2009...Named a Baron's Tournament All-Star...Received Union Tribune Honorable Mention and All-Academic Team in 2010-11...Named a four-time scholar athlete from 2009-12...Also played for San Diego Surf club soccer team...Club team has won numerous tournaments including the Elite Clubs National League championship in 2011...Participated in the ODP Pool in 2006-08, ODP State Team and Regional Pool in 2007 and ID2 Program in 2006...Daughter of Tom and Soraya Sherwin...One younger sister, Daniela.
Emily Wadell D 5-7 Yucaipa, Calif./Yucaipa
Plans to study dentistry, exercise science or public relations...3.80 high school GPA, ranked 74th out of 659 students in her class...Member of her high school Interact and Gate clubs...Four-year letter winner and starter, one-year team captain in soccer at Yucaipa HS...Team was CBL Champions in 2009 and 2011 and CIF Div. 2 semifinalists in 2009...Helped team compile 77-16-9 record throughout her career through mid-January...Named First Team All-League as a junior in 2011, Second Team All-League as a sophomore in 2010...Named team's Most Inspirational Player in 2011 and Most Valuable Defensive Player in 2010...Four-time Athletic Scholar recipient...Also played for So Cal Blues club soccer team...Club team was 2009 Coast Soccer league Premier Champions and Region IV Champions in 2009 and 2011...Participated in USYSA National Championships in 2009 and 2011 and USYSA National League in 2009 and 2010...Daughter of Roger Wadell and Carla Swaim...One younger sister, Erica, and one younger brother, Daniel...Father, Roger, played soccer at Cal State Fullerton...Mother, Carla, ran cross country at El Camino JC.
Haley Wingender F 5-7 Henderson, Nev./Bishop Gorman
Plans to study physical therapy...3.50 high school GPA...Member of her high school National Spanish Honor Society...four-year letter winner and starter, one-year captain in soccer at Bishop Gorman HS...Team is a three-time Southwest Division champion...Tallied 85 goals and 60 assists in her career...Named the team's best offensive player in 2009 and 2010, team MVP in 2010 and 2011 and the Southwest Division MVP in 2010 and 2011...Also played for Premier 94 White club soccer team...Club team won the state championship four times...Named the club's MVP...Daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Eddie Wingender...Two younger sisters, Lauren and Devyn...Father, Eddie, tried out for the New York Jets.