Valdosta, GA - Valdosta State and Head Coach Melissa Heinz would like to announce the signing of Blazer Soccer’s inaugural recruiting class. The Blazers welcome 22 freshmen, three sophomores and six juniors to Valdosta State, most of which come from Georgia, but there are also players who hail from Colorado, Wisconsin, South Carolina, Florida, Canada and Jamaica.
Heinz is excited and proud of the first roster of players that will represent Valdosta State soccer in the inaugural season set to start September 1, 2011.
“I have truly been blessed by God to find such a variety of hard working, talented players. These players are as tall as 5-foot-9 and as small as 5-foot-1, and they are strong and quick. Certainly, no one size fits all with this group,” said Heinz. “These players will combine their experience and achievements to help us compete in every game.”
Certainly, this group of players will be tasked with a challenge no other Valdosta State soccer team will have: they are the first.
“These players understand that as a member of a first year program, they have a tough challenge. They will not use it as an excuse to not give it all they have to prepare for this season,” Heinz said. “I’ve had several conversations with each player about the intensity needed at this next level, the hard work needed each day, and the importance of showing up in each game and playing with heart.”
Even though the team has a sort of youth movement, the group does have high standards.
“We have talent coming to VSU that has tasted success. This group, as a whole, brings several High School State Championships, Club State Championships, national rankings, academic honors and much more,” said Heinz. “At times, they may show their age, but one thing is for sure. They will always work hard and never give up.”
Below is the 2011 signing class in its entirety.
Anna Hardin (5-9, GK, Alpharetta, Ga./South Forsyth HS) – Earned the Iron Eagle Award at South Forsyth… Named to All-County team… Played for AFC Lightning 93 Elite… Played for ASA Extreme 93 Black… Coach’s quote: “A keeper that will work hard and give her best every day.”… Hardin’s quote on VSU: “When I first saw the school I fell in love with it. Coach Heinz seems like a really great coach and I can’t wait to play for her. It will also be fun being on the first soccer team for Valdosta State.”
Olivia Mills (5-9, GK, Colorado Springs, Colo./Thomas B. Doherty HS) – Led all Colorado juniors in 2010… Number four in 2010 overall keeper rankings… Varsity Captain in 2010 and 2011… Named first team All-Conference in 2010… Named first team All-Area in 2010… Named second team All-Conference in 2009… Named second team All-Area in 2009… All-Conference Honorable Mention in 2008… All-Area Honorable Mention in 2008… 96 percent saves in 2008 when she led Doherty to the state playoffs… 88 percent saves in 2009… 85 percent saves in 2010… Led club team Pride SC Predators to No. 9 ranking nationally, No. 1 rank in Colorado… Led team to Region IV Championships… Was a 2010 State Cup Finalist… 2010 League Champions (undefeated 10-0)… 2010 Rush Cup Champions… 2009 State Cup Finalist… Multiple championships from 2008-09 with Pride SC United… Coach’s quote: “Very strong impact player. Mills is an elite level goal keeper and a potential starter at Valdosta State.”… Mills’ quote on VSU: “Coach Heinz was a huge part of my decision to attend VSU. I am confident in her and her resume that she has the ability to build and field a nationally competitive team. I love the VSU campus and I have already come to appreciate the support of the community, school and alumni of their sports teams.”
Hong Tran (5-8, GK, Gainesville, Ga./Gainesville HS) – Tallied 96 saves in 2010… Had seven shutouts and just 13 goals allowed in 2010… Named first team All-Area in 2010… Named first team All-Region in 2010… Named 2010 Player of the Year… Tallied 139 saves in 2009… Stopped seven of 12 penalty kicks in 2009… Named team’s most valuable player in 2009… Named to the 2009 All-Region team… Named to the 2009 All-Area team…Led team to 2008 Verizon Wireless Cup Championship… Played for Atlanta Fire United 93 Elite and Lanier Soccer Association… Coach’s quote: “A keeper that is a shot stopper. She is tough and hard working. Tran could be a potential starter at VSU.”… Tran’s quote on VSU: “It’s just right. Valdosta State clicked righ when I stepped on the campus.”
Emily Gray Powell (5-7, F, Newnan, Ga./The Heritage School) – Named All-Region and All-State three years running… Coweta County Player of the Year in both 2009 and 2010… Tallied 49 goals, the most goals scored in Georgia Independent School Association in 2009… Earned Golden Boot Award for most goals scored… Named team’s most valuable player 2008-10… Led team to regional championship 2008-10… Led team to state runners-up in 2009… Played for Coweta Cannons (1994-2007)… Played for AFC Lightning (2008-10)… Coach’s quote: “Powell is a strong target player with great presence in the game. She has good vision and will do well on the field in our attack.”… Powell’s quote on VSU: “Valdosta State University has always been a top choice of mine. When the opportunity came to me to play on the first ever women’s soccer team, it was a dream come true. We are going to be history in the making.”
Morgan Cutts (5-4, F, Anderson, S.C./T.L. Hanna HS) – Named most valuable offensive player in sophomore and junior seasons… Named All-Region… Named Anderson Independent Mail All-Area Team… Led team in goals in sophomore season… Second on the team in goals in junior year… Led team to undefeated seasons and All-Region Championships 2008-2010… Led club team to South Carolina State Cup Finals in 2007 and 2008… Led club team to 2010 South Carolina State Cup quarterfinals… Played for Carolina Elite Soccer Academy (CESA) 92 Premier (2005-2009)… Played CESA 92 Challenge… Played South Carolina United FC 92 Elite in 2010… Played in South Carolina’s Olympic Development Program (2005-09)… Coach’s quote: “She has good ideas as an attacking player.”… Cutts’ quote on VSU: “I decided to attend Valdosta State after visiting the school and seeing the passion Coach Heinz had for the game of soccer as well as her desire to compete for a National Championship. The facilities at VSU are second to none, and I look forward to helping the school continue its winning tradition.”
Casey Ponder (5-6, F, Thomasville, Ga./Thomas) – Named high school captain in 2005-08… Named offensive player of the year 2006-08… Named region player of the year in 2006-08… Named offensive player of the year at Thomas in 2008… Named to Excellence Club in 2008… Named team captain in 2009… Named Thomas Student-Athlete of the Year in 2009… Played for NASA 08 Elite in 2007-08… Played for Tallahassee United in 2006-07… Played for TASA Raiders in 2005-08… Coach’s quote: “She is the hardest worker I have ever met. She will get playing time for us in the attack.”… Ponder’s quote on VSU: “Valdosta State has a tradition of athletic excellence and I want to be a part of the first women’s soccer team at this university.”
Rebecca Miller (5-3, F, Macon, Ga./First Presbyterian Day) – Named to Georgia Independent School Association’s All-State in 2008-10… Named to GISA’s All-Region team in 2008-10… Named to GISA’s first team in 2009-10 and second team in 2008… Named to GISA’s All-Tournament team in 2008-10… Named to GISA’s All-Middle Georgia Team in 2010… Named Stratford Cup’s Most Valuable Player… Played for Macon United in 2004-09… Played AFC Lightning 93 Elite 2010-11… Coach’s quote: “She has great ball control at her foot and she isn’t afraid to dribble forward to take players on. She will be a solid player for us.”… Miller’s quote on VSU: “I loved the uniqueness and challenge of a first year team, the coaching staff, our field house and the campus.”
Sydney Smith (5-5, F/MF, Conyers, Ga./Heritage HS) – Led team to the State AAAA playoffs in 2008-10… Has been a three-year starter for Heritage… Earned 2010 Coach’s Award… Named to All-Region second team… Played for Rockdale Youth Soccer Association for seven years… Played for Atlanta Fire United for two years… Coach’s quote: “Just had recent surgery, but she is determined to get healthy and play strong for the Blazers.”… Smith’s quote on VSU: “The atmosphere and campust at VSU is a good fit for me. The size of the university and its location is exactly what I was looking for. Having the opportunity to be part of a start up soccer program is very exciting. I really liked Coach Heinz’s ersonality, coaching style and winning mentality. I can’t wait to start making history with the Valdosta State soccer team.”
Abbi Edwards (5-3, MF, Sugar Hill, Ga./North Gwinnett HS) – Earned Coach’s Award in 2008… Earned NGHS Bulldog Award in 2010… Member of the student-athlete leadership team at NGHS 2009-11… Named All-County in 2010… Captained state championship team in 2010… Played for Super Y in 2008… Played for Atlanta Fire United Elite 93 in 2008-11… Played R3PL in 2008-09… Played ECNL for 2009-11… Coach’s quote: “She plays like she is six feet tall. Edwards is a tenacious player who is strong and aggressive. She will be an impact player at VSU.”… Edwards quote on VSU: “The opportunity to be a part of the beginning of a tradition made my decision to attend and play for VSU very easy. I am so excited to play for Coach Heinz.”
Alli Fay (5-1, MF, Cumming, Ga./North Forsyth HS) – Led team to the CESA Classic finals in 2007… Led team to CASL Shootout semifinals in 2007… Led GYSA Athena A team to undefeated season and state championship in 2007… Played for R3PL in 2008-09… Led team to Georgia state semifinals in 2008-09… Led team to Disney Showcase semifinals in 2008… Led team to Disney Showcase Championship in 2009… Led team to a third overall ranking in the state of Georgia and 44th ranking nationally… Led team to Atlanta Cup semifinals in 2010… Led team to Las Vegas College Showcase semifinals in 2010… Four-year varsity starter… Named offensive player of the year… Played for Forsyth Rowdies Athena for two years… Played for Tophat North Athena for one year… Played for Concorde Fire Athena A/R3PL for seven years… Coach’s quote: “She is a player that will do her job and be consistent. She has a great personality and is a team player.”… Fay’s quote on VSU: “Valdosta is a perfect fit from the campus to the girls on the team to Coach Heinz and Coach Foote. I’m ready to make history.”
Hannah Mulkey (5-4, MF, Toccoa, Ga./Stephens County HS) – Varsity starter for three seasons… Named to Northeast Georgia Mountain Cup All-Tournament Team… Named to All-Region second and first team… Named Wendy’s High School Heisman… Led club team to Atlanta Cup Championship in 2009… Also ran varsity cross country for three seasons… Played for North Georgia Soccer Association in 2006-08… Played for Alpharetta Ambush in 2008-09… Played for Concorde Fire in 2010… Coach’s quote: “Hannah is a hard worker and can go for days on the field without stopping. She will certainly fight for playing time.”… Mulkey’s quote on VSU: “I am very excited about playing on the very first Valdosta State University women’s soccer team. I consider this to be an opportunity that will not only help me become a better player, but also an amazing experience to be able to work with coaches who encourage their players to reach their full potential. I can’t wait to be with teammates who want to build a legacy.”
Lauren Hale (5-3, MF, Macon, Ga./Stratford Academy) – Named team captain… Earned Coach’s Award… Named to the Georgia Independent School Association’s All-Region team twice… Named to GISA’s All-State team…Named to 2009 Viking Cup All-Tournament team… Played for Macon United for nine seasons… Coach’s quote: “She is very smart, aggressive and skilled. Lauren is capable of playing many positions. With her versatility, she will be an impact player at VSU.”… Hale’s quote on VSU: “I enjoyed Coach Heinz at previous soccer camps. VSU has a great campus and Valdosta State meets my academic needs along with my athletic desires.”
Lauren Ingram (5-3, MF, Macon, Ga./Rutland HS) – Named Rutland’s offensive player of the year three seasons running… Named second team All-Middle Georgia in 2008… Played for Macon United in 2003-09… Played for AFC Lightning in 2010-11… Coach’s quote: “She is a great player with the ball at her feet and has good ideas teamed with good vision on the field. Lauren has the tools to be great.”… Ingram’s quote on VSU: “Valdosta State gave me all the qualities I wanted in a large and small school while Coach Heinz’s enthusiasm and positive vision sold me on the soccer program.”
Leanne Bishop (5-7, MF, Newnan, Ga./East Coweta HS) – Earned Coach’s Award in 2009… Named East Coweta’s team captain in 2011… Named AFC Lightning’s team captain… Played for Coweta Cannons in 197-2007… Played for AFC Lightning in 2008-11… Coach’s quote: “She is tall and works continuously. She never stops. Leanne is always involved and plays with high intensity.”… “Bishop’s quote on VSU: I love the atmosphere at Valdosta State, and the soccer program just felt like home.”
Margaret Stauffer (5-5, MF, Colorado Springs, Colo./Palmer HS) – Named team captain for two years running… Led club team in scoring… Earned four high school letters in soccer and one in cross country… Is the junior high record holer in 800m and 1600m… Played for Colorado Rush Nike… Coach’s quote: “She is an outstanding player. Margaret is an elite player and will be an immediate impact on our team. She is crafty with the ball at her feet and will never stop.”… Stauffer’s quote on VSU: “I chose VSU because the coaching staff, university staff, and student body created a welcoming and exciting environment that I wanted to be a part of.”
Karly Lentz (5-8, D/MF, New Berlin, Wis./Catholic Memorial HS) – Lettered in soccer all four seasons… Led team to state finals in 2008 and 2009… Led team to state championship in 2010… Led team to Hill Conference Championship in 2010… Led club team to state finals in 2009… Was a cross county Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association state qualifier in 2010… Named captain of basketball team… Led basketball team to All-Conference championship… Led basketball team to second round of state tournament… Played for FC Milwaukee Nationals from 2005-present… Played in Olympic Development Program in 2006-07…Coach’s quote: “She makes smart decisions on the field. Karly is a high level, elite player. She is solid in all areas of the game and will be an impact player.”… Lentz’s quote on VSU: “Initially I selected Valdosta State because of the campus location and atmosphere. But to be a part of a brand new collegiate team is exciting and challenging for me. My connection to the coaches solidified my decision to attend VSU.”… Lentz was so determined to send her National Letter of Intent that, despite being snowed in for the day, Lentz hiked to her neighbor’s house to use the fax machine.
Michelle Turner (5-3, D/MF, Conyers, Ga./Heritage HS) – Named club team captain… Named second team All-Region in junior season… Played for Athens United in 2010… Played for GFC in 2009… Played for GSA in 2005-08… Coach’s quote: “She is small but scrappy. Michelle has good abilities with the ball at her feet.”… Turner’s quote on VSU: “I fell in love with the campus. Once I met Coach Heinz on my visit, I knew it was the place for me. Plus it’s close to the beach.”
Shealy Kulp (5-4, D/MF, Conyers, Ga./Heritage HS) – Earned Coach’s Award in sophomore season… Earned four varsity letters… Named to All-Region team in sophomore and junior seasons… Led club team to Atlanta Cup Championship in 2009… Led club team to Nike Cup Championship in 2009… Played for RYSA in 2002-07… Played for Coweta Cannons in 2001-08… Played for AFC Lightning in 2008-11… Coach’s quote: “Good all-around player and is very coachable. Kulp is a consistent player.”… Kulp’s quote on VSU: “I choose Valdosta State because of its high academic standards and its tradition of athletic excellence. It’s very exciting to be a part of an inaugural program. Go Blazers!”
Nikki Falcon (5-4, D/MF, Valdosta, Ga./Lowndes HS) – Named best defender in 2009-10… Named first team All-Region in 2009-10… Led team to SGU U17 Region Championship… Led team to President’s Cup State Championship in 2010… Played for South Georgia United U17 in 2009… Played for South Georgia Untied U19 in 2010… Coach’s quote: “She has great speed and is very solid in one-on-one defending. Nikki reads the game very well and is very strong with the left foot.”… Falcon’s quote on VSU: “I have the privilege to play for Valdosta State. It is an honor to play for a new program and to have a coach like Melissa Heinz. I can’t wait for our season to start.”
Katelyn Gaskins (5-3, D, Thomaston, Ga./Upson-Lee HS) – Earned Coach’s Award as a freshman… Earned Captain’s Award as a sophomore and junior… Named to first team All-Region in sophomore and junior seasons… Named second team All-Middle Georgia in junior season… Named first team All-Middle Georgia as a sophomore… Played for USA Revolution in 2003-05… Played for AFC Lightning in 2006-08… Played for Concords Fire South in 2008-present… Coach’s quote: “She has the biggest hear with quite a bit of drive. Katelyn is very coachable and will always give her best.”… Gaskins’ quote on VSU: “As Mia Hamm once said, ‘Take your victories, whatever they may be. Cherish them, use them, but don’t settle for them.’ As for me, one of life’s greatest victories is becoming a part of the first women’s soccer team at Valdosta State University. I am a part of something special.”
Arielle Sabina (5-6, D, Lawrenceville, Ga./Georgia Perimeter) – Named high school team’s defensive player of the year… Named to All-County Team… Named to All-Region team at Georgia Perimeter… Named to All-Tournament Team at Georgia Perimeter… Led Georgia Perimeter to No. 3 ranking nationally… Played for GSA in 2008-09… Played for TYSA in 2004-08… Played for Georgia Perimeter College in 2009-2011… Coach’s quote: “She is strong and will be able to put extreme pressure on the opponents. Arielle will be a leader and potential starter. She has great knowledge of the game.”… Sabina’s quote on VSU: “When I heard about Valdosta State having a soccer team, I was interested. But once I met Coach Heinz, I was hooked. She was enthusiastic and knew what she wanted to accomplish. She and the girls excited me about this program. I can’t wait to make history at VSU with this team.”
Kayla Reid (5-5, F, Brampton, Ontario, Canada/Humber) – Named Most Valuable Player in 2004 for St. Augustine High School… Named Most Valuable Player for St. Augustine in 2005… Was third runner up in regional 100m hurdles… Played for North Mississauga Panthers in 2004-08… Played for Dixie Saints in 2000-04… Played for Brams United in 1998-2000… Coach’s quote: “She has good ideas in the game with good speed and the capability of scoring goals… Reid’s quote on VSU: “It’s a great school academically with amazing opportunities for its student athletes. I am looking forward to building on our team one game at a time and to taking the division by storm. Let’s go Blazers!”
Caroline Moore (5-2, MF, Greenville, S.C./Eastside HS) – Named to the South Carolina High School League’s All-Region team… Led team to the state semifinals… Led team to the region championship… Earned four varsity letters… Led club team to State Challenge Cup Championships in 2010-11… Led club team to State Challenge Cup finals in 2008-09… Played in Olympic Development Program… Played for CESA 92 Premier for four seasons… Played for 93 South Carolina ODP for five years… Named to All-Region team in 2009-10… Coach’s quote: “She is an elite level player and will be an immediate impact to this program. She has smarts, toughness and the skills one needs.”… Moore’s quote on VSU: “It is the best choice, not only for athletics, but from an academic standpoint as well. I couldn’t be happier with my decision and I’m excited to win a national championship.”
Katie Butler (5-4, MF, Douglasville, Ga./North Georgia College) – Named team’s Most Valuable Player at Chapel Hill High School… Named Douglas County Player of the Week in 2008… Named All-Conference in 2009… Played at North Georgia College in fall of 2010… Played for West Metro Freedom Red (Athena A) in 2004-09… Played for Douglas County Starline Flyers in 2000-04… Coach’s quote: “She is working to be an impact player. Katie could see time as an outside middle or left side for us.”… Butler’s quote on VSU: “I chose Valdosta State because it offers excellent academics and the opportunity to play a leadership role on a competitive new women’s soccer team. I love the campus and the people are great too, especially the other girls on the team and coaches.”
Rachel Mikula (5-3, MF, McDonough, Ga./Eagle’s Landing HS) – Earned the ELHS soccer Golden Eagle Award… Named ELHS soccer Athlete of the Year in 2009-10… Named to All-Region team… Named to All-County team… four year letterman in both soccer and cross country… Earned ELHS cross country Freshman Flash Award… Earned ELHS cross country Golden Eagle Award… Played for AFC Lightning in 2004-06… Played for Concorde Fire South in 2006-08… Coach’s quote: “She is already on campus and working to be an impact player. Rachel could get time as a forward or a middle.”… Mikula’s quote on VSU: “I’ll use a quote to express how I feel: ‘The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare’ by Juma Ikangaa.”
Shelby Widergren (5-4, MF, Lake City, Fla./South Florida) – Named to the Gainesville Sun All-Area team four consecutive years… Named All-First Coast… Named Most Valuable Offensive Player of the Year… Named team captain for two years… Earned the Golden Boot Award… named Players’ Player of the Year… Was leading goal scorer with 119 goals and 58 assists in four seasons at Columbia High School… Played for Gainesville Legacy… Played for Tallahassee United… Played in the Olympic Development Program in Region B Select in 2005 and 2007… Coach’s quote: “Shelby is already on campus and is working to be an impact players. She could see time as a forward or middle.”… Widergren’s quote on VSU: “I chose VSU because of its strong academic reputation and to be a part of a history making women's soccer program as we bring more trophies to a championship-rich university. I also love Coach Heinz and the small-town feel of the University.”
Victoria Zeman (5-4, MF, Gainesville, Ga./North Forsyth HS) – Named the team’s Most Valuable Offensive Player as just a freshman… Earned three varsity letters for soccer… Named the Most Athletic Senior Girl… Played for the ASA Xtreme in 2005-10… Played for United Futbol Academy in 2010-11… Coach’s quote: “She wants to do her best at all times and will always give everything she can. She is a player that never fails to do her part.”… Zeman’s quote on VSU: “Playing soccer at a beautiful school like VSU gives me a once in a lifetime opportunity that I never could have dreamed of.”
Lizzie Lohmar (5-3, D, Lawrenceville, Ga./Collins Hill HS) – Earned a varsity letter in soccer in 2009 and 2010… Named to the Atlanta Fire United Elite Team, Region 3, ECNL… Played for Atlanta Fire United from U5 to U18… Played for Region 3 in 2008-09… Coach’s quote: “She is already on campus and will be an impact leader for the program. She brings leadership qualities and is a solid defensive player.”… Lohmar’s quote on VSU: “I have always dreamed of playing soccer at the next level, and I feel truly honored to be able to be a part of the inaugural soccer team for Valdosta State University.”
Jody Bethune (5-1, MF, Jamaica/South Georgia) – Named Player of the Year at South Georgia from 2009-10… Led team to a No. 13 ranking in the state… Played for the Jamaican National Team… Played for Waterhouse FC… Coach’s quote: “She is a very strong, impact player that will control the game in the middle with her skills and knowledge.”… Bethune’s quote on VSU: “I am proud to be a part of Valdosta State University. I will represent and respect all members of the institution, and I hope to be productive in all I do.”
Blakely McClellan (5-4, F, Tifton, Ga./Tift County HS) – Led team to three region championships… Led team to national championship at Elk’s Lodge Soccer Shootout… Scored 26 goals last season… Runner-up for Player of the Year… Named Most Valuable Player at Central Florida soccer camp… Recognized at Ralph Lundy as Most Valuable Player twice… Named first team All-Region last season… Named second team All-Region in sophomore year… Named team captain… Earned Most Outstanding Offense Award… Four-year letterman… Led club team to President’s Cup Championship… Lettered in basketball and cross country… Played for TASA for four seasons… Played for South Georgia United for two seasons… Played for Cobb United junior year… Played for the Mexican League her senior season… Coach’s quote: “Blakely is very quick and can really score goals. She has a chance for playing time early in her career.”… McClellan’s quote on VSU: “I am extremely excited about the opportunity to be a part of a history-making team. I already love my teammates, and I can’t wait for them to become my best friends. I couldn’t ask for better coaches than Coach Heinz and Coach Foote. Let the season begin!”
Sarah Knight (5-7, D, Cairo, Ga./Columbus HS) – Named All Bi-City Defensive Player of the Year… Named team captain… Four-year letterman… Led team to back-to-back Orange Classic International Championships… Led team to Norcross Nike Cup Finals… Led team to CASL Championship in Raleigh, N.C…. Led team to back-to-back U.S. Club Soccer Southeast Regional Championships (scored game-winning goal)… Led team to Norcross Girls Cup Championship… Played for CFC Redstar Soccer Club in 2004-08… Coach’s quote: “She has the biggest drive with work ethic that will pay off on the field. She is a leader and should expect playing time.”… Knight’s quote on VSU: “It really wasn’t a decision. I knew I had wanted to do it all along, so I went for it.”