FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – NAU head soccer coach Andre Luciano is proud to announce his 2013 signing class which includes 15 incoming freshmen who will join the Northern Arizona soccer program in the fall. The 15 newcomers will join 17 returning letter winners from the 2012 team in the Lumberjacks' pursuit of a return to the Big Sky Championship.
"This class is a prototypical blue collar class," Luciano said. "They are all players that work extremely hard during training and during games. We spent a lot of time identifying them and we had a lot of them at our camps and clinics. They come from good families who have molded them into fine young women already and they're all players whose number one choice was Northern Arizona University. That was very important for us."
With just three graduating seniors, Luciano utilized this year's recruiting class as a chance to bolster depth throughout the roster. That was evident in the breakdown of the class as Luciano brings in five midfielders, five defenders, three forwards and two goalkeepers.
"The goal specifically was to give us more depth at every position, so this year we didn't go after one specific position," Luciano said. "Instead we made it a focus to be deeper at every position and also to identify players that will not only come in as an impact player their freshman year but who had the potential to develop over their four years."
The defense returns three-fourths of the starting backline in junior Alana D'Onofrio, sophomore Diane Buzzard and freshman Alexia Gonzalez, putting the Lumberjacks in good position in the back. However they also suffer a big loss with the graduation of senior captain and five-year starter Georgia Foltz. To help ease the loss of Foltz, who finished her career as one of the program's most storied players with an All-Big Sky first team selection last fall, Rachel Earll (Meridian, Idaho/Bishop Kelly HS), Amy Eckert (Colorado Springs, Colo./Cheyenne Mountain HS), Missy Kettelkamp (Phoenix, Ariz./Pinnacle HS), Danny Muniz (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chaparral HS) and Ally Wojick (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South HS) will be added to the fold.
Missy Kettelkamp enters the NAU soccer program as her sister, Jessica Kettelkamp, exits after three years with the Lumberjacks.
On the attacking front, NAU welcomes back all 10 players that scored at least one goal in 2012, led by All-Big Sky honorable mention selection freshman Demi Schmieder who was top on the team in goals, assists and points. Schmieder will team up with true freshman Haley Wingender and redshirt freshman Malia Tano, both of whom registered two goals scored last season, up front and will be joined in 2013 by a trio of talented strikers in Lindsay Doyle (Laguna Niguel, Calif./Aliso Niguel HS), Ali Lixandru (Phoenix, Ariz./Pinnacle HS) and Deyana Walker (Ann Arbor, Mich./Ladywood HS).
Two local products out of Flagstaff High School, Meg O'Brien and Mattie Wojcik, are among the five incoming additions to the midfield. The others include two California products, Makenzie DeLaughder (Davis, Calif./Davis Senior HS) and Erin Discipulo (Redondo Beach, Calif./Bishop Montgomery HS), and Shanna Lechelt (Beaverton, Ore./Jesuit HS). The five newcomers will add further depth behind sophomore Emily Roth, an All-Big Sky honorable mention selection last fall, sophomore Savannah Berry, the team's leader in shots in 2012, and freshman Cierra Gamble, the owner of two goals last season.
O'Brien and Wojcik increases the Flagstaff High School representation on the Lumberjack squad to four with Buzzard and freshman Maya Huffman returning. Schmieder, out of local Coconino High School, is the fifth Flagstaff native on next year's roster.
Rounding out the signing class is a pair of goalkeepers in Samantha DeMarco (Gilbert, Ariz./Perry HS) and Cheyanne Mumphrey (Murrieta, Calif./Vista Murrieta HS). With Lauren Weaver, a two-time All-Big Sky honorable mention selection, entering her senior season in 2013, the pair will enter the mix with freshman Natalie Gilbertson, who started five games in her first year, as the future in goal for the Lumberjacks.
While Luciano stayed within the state of Arizona to get six of his 15 signees and California, a traditionally constant recruiting ground, for four more signees, he also reached out to the Midwest, Northwest and Mountain regions to complete his class. Of note, Walker is the first ever player from Michigan in program history, Eckert is the first player from Colorado to enter the program since Lindsey O'Dell in 2000 and Wojick is the first player from Illinois to enter the program since Ashley Marrapode and Lauren Zallis in 2008. Luciano credits his program's television coverage for exposing NAU soccer to the rest of the country.
"The most important thing is the exposure that Northern Arizona University is getting on a national level that has been helped dramatically by having our games televised on a national scale by Fox Sports Arizona and Fox College Sports," Luciano said. "For us to get back to recruiting in the Midwest, the Northwest, through California and in-state has been huge."
With 25 total returners and a talented signing class, the Lumberjacks hope to build on their 5-9-5 (3-3-3 Big Sky) season last fall, a two-win increase from 2011, and get back to the Big Sky Championship this upcoming fall for the first time since 2010.