PITTSBURGH--The University of Pittsburgh women's soccer program signed 12 student-athletes to a National Letter of Intent, head coach Greg Miller announced on Wednesday.
Representing three countries (United States, Canada, Finland) and six states (3-California, 2-Pennsylvania, 1-Tennessee, 1-Wisconsin, 1-Massachusetts, 1-New Jersey, 1-North Carolina), all 12 members of the 2013 Pitt women's soccer recruiting class will enroll at Pitt this summer with winning backgrounds. Two compete for their respective country's national team, five won national titles of some kind and all 12 captured state titles at various levels. Six are multi-sport athletes, nine are four-year varsity soccer letterwinners and all 12 have served as team captains of their respective soccer squads.
"In building this 2013 class, we had several challenges to meet," Miller said. "Because we arrived here last January, we had a late start in the recruiting process for this group. Many of the nation's better players had already committed to schools by this point, so we knew we had to work much harder to attract the right players who would be able to compete in the ACC. Specifically, we had to address issues in each of our lines to add athleticism, talent and depth.
"Credit our staff not only for identifying, but also securing what we feel is a solid foundation as we transition to the ACC. They bring a wealth of championship and high level playing experience. These young women are very hard working and competitive who will succeed both on the field and in the classroom. We couldn't more proud to announce these 12 players as our first official recruiting class."
Pitt will enter the Atlantic Coast Conference next season. The ACC is generally considered the nation's top women's college soccer conference. Seven ACC teams finished the 2012 season ranked among the NSCAA's top-25, including national champion North Carolina (1), Florida State (4), Duke (8), Virginia (10), Notre Dame (13), Wake Forest (15) and Maryland (16).
In addition to the 12 signees, Pitt returns 12 letterwinners from a squad that finished with a 7-10-2 overall record in Miller's first year as head coach in 2012.
Following is a roster and biographical sketches on each of the 12 signees.
2013 PITT WOMEN'S SOCCER SIGNEES (12)
(NCAA signing period for women's soccer runs Feb. 6-13, 2013)
Defender/Midfielder, 5-6, Tustin, Calif./Arnold O. Beckman H.S.
Quoting Miller: "Jaci comes from the extremely successful Slammers FC team in California where they expect nothing but your best. Coming off an ECNL National Championship, Jaci has risen above and beyond to make herself an excellent defender. She has the athleticism and tactical understanding as an outside back to be very dangerous in the attack but has the mindset to get back and defend quickly. We expect her to have an immediate impact."
High School: Will graduate from Arnold O. Beckman High School in Irvine, Calif. in June, 2013 where she played four years of varsity soccer for coaches Gordon Scott and Stacy Colon...Currently playing her senior season at Beckman...Four-year varsity starter...Two-time team captain...Three-time Orange County Varsity "Top Player to Watch" honoree...Four-year All-Pacific Coast Conference selection...First-team all-league as a junior...Two-time all-league selection as a freshman and sophomore...Helped guide the Lady Patriots to a California State Semifinalist finish and Regional finalist appearance as a freshman...Named team Rookie of the Year and received the team's Scholar-Athlete Award...Three-time Scholar-Athlete award winner...Has played for the Slammers FC club team for nine years from 2004-13...Served as the team's captain since 2005...Helped lead the Slammers to the ECNL Under-16 National Championship in 2012...The Slammers were named the top soccer club in the ECNL in 2012...Also led the Slammers to two Surf Cup championships (2010 and 2011), the Region 4 and National Cup Champions (California South) in 2011, the Nike Manchester Cup finals in 2010 and the 2008 CalSouth state title...Invited to attend the 2008 and 2009 California Regional Training Camp.
Personal: Born Jaci Mychele Brown on August 24, 1995...Daughter of Charles and Lily Brown...Has one older sister Rachel...Uncle Eugene Brown wrestled at Springfield College...Uncle Maurice Brown ran track at NJIT...Has volunteered in her community feeding the homeless for two years...Passionate about fashion and design...Served on the Nordstrom BP Fashion Board from 2011-2013...Played on the FC Slammers Club team with fellow Pitt signee and California native Arielle Fernandez...Intends to major in marketing and international studies.
Defender, 5-7, Ooltewah, Tenn./Baylor School
Quoting Miller: "Marci is a smart and gifted athlete. She is a composed defender that has a huge competitive drive about her. She reads the game very well and has proven leadership qualities tha twill come in handy for us. We are expecting her to challenge for time at center back spot."
High School: Will graduate in June, 2013 from The Baylor School in Chattanooga, Tenn., where she played four years of varsity soccer for coaches Jimmy Weekly and Curtis Blair...Two-time Tennessee Division II Class 2A All-State First Team selection (senior and sophomore seasons)...Selected All-State by the Tennessee Sports Writers Association...Guided Baylor to back-to-back state championships in 2010 and 2011...Led the Lady Raiders to an 11-4-3 record as a senior...Led team to the 2011 Tennessee Division II Class 2A state title, a No. 3 national ranking by ESPN and a 19-1-0 record during her junior season...Helped lead Baylor to the state title and a 17-0-2 record during her sophomore year...Helped guide her squad to a Division II Class 2A state runner-up finish and 17-1-1 record as a freshman...Played for the Olympic Development state team from 2009-11...Played for Nashville's FC Alliance from 2010-13 where she was coached by Josh Gray...Helped lead FC Alliance to the 2011 Tennessee state title, the 2012 Region 3 Premier League Central championship and state finals appearance and 2013 Disney Showcase title...Four-year varsity basketball letterwinner...Two-year National Honor Society member.
Personal: Born Marci Michelle Carter on September 5, 1994...Daughter of Jack and Donna Carter...Has three older siblings: Brian, Jenny and Nathan...Brother Brian played soccer at Wofford College...Sister Jenny played soccer at Covenant College and was named a NSCAA First Team All-American in 2009...Hobbies and interests include reading, animals and rock climbing...Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity...Once attended a National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine in Chicago in 2011...Plans to major in bioengineering and hopes to be an orthopedic surgeon one day.
Quoting Miller: "JoJo is an athletic, hard-nosed defender. She is dominant in the air and competent technically allowing her to be composed on the ball. She brings a attitude, work ethic, tenacity and height to our back line."
High School: Will graduate in June, 2013 from Edgewood High School in Madison, Wis....Enters her senior soccer season this spring where she competes for head coach Chris Martinelli...Named two-time All-Area player by the Wisconsin State Journal and "Best of the Rest" honoree by the Wisconsin Coaches Association...Three-time unanimous All-Badger South Conference selection...Three-time All-City selection...Two-year soccer team captain...Helped guide the Crusaders to the 2011 state championship and Badger South Conference title as a sophomore...Team captured a conference title and appeared in the state semifinals during her freshman season...Competed for the Madison 56ers for head coaches Brian Feyrer and John Reddan (2006-12)...Four-year varsity letterwinner in basketball for head coach Lora Staveness...National Honor Society member...High Honor Roll student (2010-13).
Personal: Born Mikayla Jo Chryst on February 9, 1995...Daughter of Paul and Robin Chryst...Daughter of Pitt football coach Paul Chryst...Has an older sister Katy and younger brother Danny...Sister Katy is a freshman at Pitt...The sisters were teammates at Edgewood...Nickname is JoJo...Completed over 200 hours of community service during high school.
Forward/Midfielder, 5-5, Long Beach, Calif./Long Beach Poly H.S.
Quoting Miller: "Arielle comes from the same Slammers FC club as Jaci. She has been able to make herself a quality technical player and has a knack for finding the goal from both the striker position as well as attacking mid. Her athleticism, strength and vision will give us added dynamic play to our frontline."
High School: Will graduate in June, 2013 from Long Beach Polytechnic High School in Long Beach, Calif....Helped guide the Slammers Football Club, coached by Walid Khoury, to tournament titles at the Manchester Cup (finalist, 2009), Surf Cup (champions, 2010), California State Cup (champions, 2011), USYSA Region 4 (champions, 2011), ECNL Nationals (champions, 2011), USYSA National Championships (4th place, 2012) and ECNL Nationals (first place, 2012)...The Slammers were ranked among the nation's top-5 best club teams...Also competed for the Beach Football Club, coached by Dave Kelsey...Two-year varsity soccer letterwinner (freshman and sophomore seasons) at Long Beach Poly for head coach Teri Collins...National Honor Society member.
Personal: Born Arielle Fernandez on October 31, 1995...Daughter of Maceo and Tanya Fernandez of Long Beach, Calif....Nickname is Ari...Mother competed in track and field at Cal-Berkeley...Established musician who has played the violin, clarinet/bass clarinet and tenor saxophone...Also would like to learn how to play the piano and guitar...Toured Europe with the All Southern California Ambassadors of Music, performing in England, France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria and Germany...Hobbies and interests include the beach, traveling, dancing and listening to music...Played on the FC Slammers Club team with fellow Pitt signee and California native Jaci Brown...Intends to major in biology.
Goalkeeper, 5-6, Cary, N.C./Panther Creek H.S.
Quoting Miller: "Taylor is a consistent and dependable goalkeeper who possess the ability to change or take over a game in an instant. She is a big-time player that excels in big games as a result of her tireless preparation and deep competitiveness. She is technically and tactically sharp, which coupled with her leadership, makes her an all-around solid goalkeeper. We expect her to compete immediately for time in the goal."
High School: Will graduate in June, 2013 from Panther Creek High School in Cary, N.C....Ranked by TopDrawerSoccer as the 107th best recruit nationally, the No. 14 player in the South Atlantic Region and No. 10 goalkeeper in the nation in the Class of 2013...Ranked by ESPN-HS as the No. 135 player nationally.Two-time All-Tri-Nine Conference honorable mention selection...Two-time Academic All-Tri-Nine Conference selection...Two-time finalist for the Gatorade State Player of the Year Award...Among her individual club accomplishments are: led the Region 3 Premier League in save percentage in 2010 and was named the Most Valuable Player at the SuperY Nationals...Competed in the North Carolina Olympic Development Program (2007-12) as well as a member of the Region III Olympic Development Team from 2008-10...Played for the CASL Chelsea Ladies for head coach Damon Nahas from 2011-13...Guided Chelsea to back-to-back National Championships and back-to-back Southeast Conference titles in the Under-17 and Under-16 age groups (2011 and 2012)...Played for the CASL Spartan Elite Black from 2007-11...Led team to the 2011 USYSA Region 3 semifinals and North Carolina State Cup, the 2010 R3 Premier League championship, ECNL National Semifinals and the ECNL Southeast Conference title and USYSA Region 3 semifinals and 2009 USYSA National Championship finalist and Region 3 title...Also guided team to the 2008 SuperY National Championship...Four-time North Carolina Cup State Champion...Competed at various US Soccer Training Centers in Winston-Salem, Greenville, S.C., Greensboro, Richmond, Va., Frisco, Texas, Montevallo, Ala. and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Personal: Born Taylor Marie Francis on March 29, 1995...Daughter of Joe and Kellie Francis...Honor Roll student...Hobbies and interests include whitewater rafting, backpacking (has been to Europe) and dance...Plans to major in biology.
Defender, 5-5, Montclair, N.J./Montclair H.S.
Quoting Miller: "Kaila is a player that brings a ton of speed and athleticism to our squad. Her competitive nature and technical ability will separate her from most. She is a solid 1v1 defender who likes to get forward into the attack. We anticipate that she will compete for significant time in our backline."
High School: Will graduate in June, 2013 from Montclair High School in Montclair, N.J., where she was a four-year varsity starter in soccer...Named the New Jersey State Player of the Year as a senior...Two-time All-State selection (First Team as a senior and Second Team as a junior), three-time All-Conference, three-time All-Group selection and four-time All-County honoree...Played centerback, led the Mounties to the New Jersey group sectional title, an Essex County championship and 18-3-3 record and earned 13 shutouts as a senior in 2012...Also limited opponents to one goal or fewer in 20 of 24 matches as a senior...Scored a goal on a 40-yard free kick blast...Earned her team's Matt Reisig and Best Defender awards following her senior season...Led team to the New Jersey group sectional championship, Essex County regular season and tournament titles and 22-1-1 record as a junior...Played defender and helped lead team to a 12-6-0 record as a sophomore...Started in the midfield, scored six goals and guided her team to a 13-2-3 overall record and state final appearance as a freshman...Played for the Montclair United Bluehawks from 2003-07...Played with the SDFC Lynx...Helped guide the Lynx to a state cup, earned a trip to regionals, won the Jefferson Cup and earned a spot in the US Club nationals in Virginia Beach, Va....Also played varsity lacrosse and served as team captain...Scored eight goals and added two assists during her senior year in lacrosse.
Personal: Born Kaila J. Jenkins on February 24, 1995...Daughter of Mr. Glenn and Pamela Jenkins...Has three siblings: Tiffany, Erinn and Drew...Brother Drew plays lacrosse at Syracuse...Sister serves as Montclair High School field hockey coach...Father played football at Hampton University...Has volunteered with an organization called "Goals for Life," which raises funds for breast cancer through an adult soccer match...Also involved with an organization called "Sisters on the Run," which combats domestic violence against women.
Defender, 5-1, Chadds Ford, Pa./Padua Academy (Wilmington, Del.)
Quoting Miller: "Jessica was a late addition to this class, but a good one. She is a very solid technical soccer player who understands the game at a high level. Her simple play and hardworking mentality will add depth to our team."
High School: Will graduate in June, 2013 from the Padua Academy in Wilmington, Del....Will begin her senior soccer season in the spring...Named team captain her senior year...Two-time Second Team All-State selection and First Team All-Catholic Conference honoree...Four-year varsity letterwinner for head coach Joe Brown...In her first three years of varsity soccer, led the Padua Academy to a 40-3-2 combined overall record...Led Padua Academy to the 2012 Delaware state championship with a 14-0-1 record...Guided team to a 13-1-1 record and state semifinal appearance as a sophomore and 13-2-0 record and state semifinal appearance as a freshman...Four-year cross country team letterwinner...National Honor Society member...Played on the Penn Fusion team from 2009-13...Helped guide the Penn Fusion to the 2009 EPYSA state titles...Played in the Delaware Olympic Development program from 2007-09...Played with the Concord Magic from 2003-09...Took advanced placement courses in several fields.
Personal: Born Jessica Marini on November 2, 1994...Daughter of Dan and Tracey Marini...Has two brothers Dante and Max...Older brother Dante plays soccer at Northeastern University...Intends to major in biomedical engineering.
Forward/Midfielder, 5-5, Andover, Mass./The Governor's Academy
Quoting Miller: "Siobhan is an extremely versatile player who can play within any line and brings extreme athleticism and speed to the team. Having also been a hockey player, it has allowed her to bring a bit of grit to the pitch. Her competitiveness in everything she does will put her in a position to be on the field from day one."
High School: Will graduate in June, 2013 from The Governor's Academy in Byfield, Mass., where she was a four-year varsity starter for head coach Mike Karin...Earned NSCAA All-America honors, becoming just the second player in school history to earn such honors...Two-time Massachusetts All-State Prep Soccer Team selection...Named to the Boston Globe All-Scholastic Team...Led the Govs to back-to-back New England Prep School Athletic Conference Class B championships (2011 and 2012)...Scored 11 goals with seven assists as a senior...Named the Independent School League's Offensive Most Valuable Player and Team MVP as a senior while guiding her team to a state title and league championship as a senior...Two-year team captain...Led the Govs to a state and league title during her junior year...Earned league honorable mention honors after helping guide team to the New England quarterfinals as both a sophomore and freshman...Played with the New England Football Club Elite for coach Chris Hamblin from 2011-13...Led team to 2012 Jefferson Cup semifinals, the NEFC Preseason Tournament title and 2012 Massachusetts State Cup championship...Played for the Shooting Stars for coach Cesar Gilbert from 2005-2011...All-around athlete who will earn a combined 12 varsity letters...Also competed in track and field (three letters) and ice hockey (four letters)...In track and field, competed primarily in the 400-meter dash...Set a school-record in the 400-meter dash (58.41), captured a conference title and earned back-to-back all-conference honors...Named Track and Field Team MVP as a sophomore...Also competed in the 4x400-meter relay...Named to the Independent School All-League team, served as team captain and earned coaches award while guiding her ice hockey team to back-to-back New England Prep School Athletic Conference Division II championships in 2010 and 2011.
Personal: Born Siobhan Mary McDonough on August 16, 1995...Daughter of Bill and Kathy McDonough...Has an older sister Alanna and younger brother Liam...First name is pronounced Sha-vohn...Father Bill played ice hockey at Boston College (1980-84) and on the US Junior National Team...Sister Alanna competed in cross country and track and field and currently is attending Colby College (Maine)...Nickname is Shiv or Chevy...Stellar student who received High Academic Honors...Four-year volunteer with the Special Olympics of Massachusetts...Describes herself as a "sports junkie"...Enjoys spending time with family...Hobbies and interests include running.
Forward/Midfielder, 5-3, Toronto, Ontario/Loretto Abbey Catholic Secondary School
Quoting Miller: "Emily is a very technical and speedy player with versatility to play in the middle and up front. Her Canadian Youth National Team and Under-17 World Cup experience will bode well in our transition to the ACC next year. We see her factoring in significantly to our team next fall."
High School: Will graduate from Loretto Abbey Catholic Secondary School in Toronto, Ontario in June, 2013...Selected to compete for the Under-17 Team Canada squad, coached by Bryan Rosenfeld...Canada played three matches (vs. Korea, vs. host Azerbaijan and vs. Nigeria) at the 2012 Under-17 Women's World Cup in Baku, Azerbaijan and finished 1-1-1 in the event...Played two seasons with her club team, Erin Mills Mighty Eagles, coached by Cyprian McFarlane...Guided the Mighty Eagles to the Under-16 Canadian National Championship in 2011 while scoring 11 goals during the tournament...Her team finished as the runner-up at the 2011 Disney Soccer Showcase...Also led the Eagles to two Ontario Cup Championships (2010 and 2011), two OYSL Playoff titles (2010 and 2011), two OYSL West Division titles (2010 and 2011), the 2010 Ontario Indoor Cup championship and 2010 Ontario Summer Games Gold Medal...Selected to compete as a 14-year-old at the Under-15 Team Canada Camp, coached by David Benning...Led her Under-14 team to the Ontario National championship, coached by Ruben Flores...Scored three goals in the championship game...Named an Ontario Scholar Honor Roll student...Also competed in cross country, ice hockey, volleyball and softball...Earned Italian Heritage Foundation Scholarship.
Personal: Born Emily Katherine Felicia Pietrangelo on August 23, 1995...Daughter of Mario and Theresa Pietrangelo...Father Mario played football at the University of Toronto...Has two brothers Adam and Daniel...Has a dog named Charlie...Hobbies and interests include knitting and baking...Proficient in trampoline and archery...Holds dual citizenship (Canada, Italy)...Plans to major in kinesiology.
Quoting Miller: "Carly is a striker with a bull in the china shop mentality. Her work ethic and desire to create chaos on a defensive line is incredible. She's a player with a true striker's mentality that brings a bit of savviness to her game and will bring a ton of energy to our front line."
High School: Will graduate in June, 2013 from Gateway High School in Monroeville, Pa., where she played four years of varsity soccer as a central midfielder for head coach Kevin Sanders and Chris Spudich...Three-time All-State selection and four-time All-WPIAL selection...Two-time Regional All-American...National All-American nominee following her senior season...Two-time Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review All-Area selection...Led the Gateway Gators to two sectional championships (2010 and 2012)...Concluded her four-year varsity career with 66 goals and 46 assists...Finished her senior season with 24 goals, 11 assists and 59 points...Led Gateway to the WPIAL Class 3A State Semifinals during her senior season, which was the farthest the school had ever advanced...Scored the game-winning penalty kick and the game tying goal in a WPIAL semifinal win over Canon-McMillan...Registered eight multi-goal games as a senior...Totaled a hat trick and one assist vs. Woodland Hills...Finished with two goals and two assists vs. Allderdice...Led the Gators in scoring during her senior, junior and sophomore seasons...Four-year starter...Scored 19 goals and finished with 16 assists as a junior...Played on the Beadling Soccer club team from 2004-2013 for head coach Weston Hawley...Six-time club state champion with Beadling...High Honor Roll student...Played varsity basketball her freshman year.
Personal: Born Carly Seneca on November 12, 1994...Daughter of Christopher and Denise Seneca...Has two siblings Kristian and Courtney...Uncle Paul Seneca played baseball at Pitt...Father Chris Seneca played basketball at Bucknell University...Committed to Pitt in April 2012.
Forward/Midfielder, 5-5, Kuopio, Finland/Kuopion Klassillinen Lukio
Quoting Miller: "Ella is an explosive, athletic player with a solid tactical understanding of the game. Her Finnish Youth National Team experience has allowed her to play at the highest level taking her technical ability to an elite status. She is creative and clean on the ball with a purposeful and accurate final pass. Her 1v1 attacking ability and dynamic play will bring much-needed help to our midfield and frontline."
High School: Will graduate from Kuopion Klassillinen Lukio in Kuopio, Finland...Helped lead her team to four straight Finnish national championship...Invited to the January and February Finnish National Team Camp...Played on the Finnish National Team at both the Under-17 and Under-19 levels...Played in the Pallokissat League in 2012...Scored two goals in 26 games and 1,944 minutes for Naisten Liiga...Scored three goals in 25 games for Naisten Liiga in 2011.
Personal: Born Ella Vanhanen on September 15, 1993...Daughter of Paivi Pennanen and Jari Vanhanen...Has an older sister Tuuli and younger brother Veikka...Played at same high school as Pitt sophomore Roosa Arvas...Enjoys music and has played the drums for over seven years...Lived in Birmingham, England when she was five years old.
Quoting Miller: "Taylor is an athletic goalkeeper with great size and soft hands. She has great reaction time and footwork which makes it difficult for teams to get the ball by her consistently. She is a very hard worker who exudes excellence on and off the field. We are looking for her to come in this fall and immediately challenge for playing time."
High School: Will graduate from Santa Margarita Catholic High School in Rancho Santa Margarito, Calif., where she will have played three years of varsity soccer for coaches Chuck Morales and Eddie Huerta...Her senior season is currently in progress...As of Feb. 4, 2012, has made 44 saves, allowed 13 goals for a 2.59 goals against average and finished with five shutouts for her 8-5-4 Eagles...Three-time Trinity League champions...Guided the Eagles to an 18-5-4 overall record, California Regional Division 2 championship, Trinity League title and Excalibur Semifinal finish as a junior...Finished her junior season with 12 shutouts and 64 saves in 27 matches played...Made a career-high 10 saves in a 3-0 win against Capistrano Valley...Helped lead Santa Margarita to a 21-4-2 record, Butch Lee Memorial Tournament title, Trinity League title and the CIF semifinals as a sophomore...Also competed in track and field and cross country...Scholar-athlete...Played nine years with the Southern California Blues team (2004-13) for coaches Chito Gebhart, Ali Malaekeh and Larry Draluck...Three-time team captain (2009-11)...Guided the Blues to the 2012 Puma USA Cup Championship, 2012 Surf Cup Finals, 2011 Blues Cup Championship, 2010 Nomads Showcase title and 2010 Coast League runner-up finish...Earned Scholar-Athlete Award and MUN Commendation Award.
Personal: Born Taylor Wulf on August 9, 1995...Daughter of Rainer and Lynda Wulf of Mission Viejo, Calif....Has one younger brother, Austin...Father Rainer played basketball at UC-Irvine and in Australia for the Lithgow Tornadoes...Hobbies and interests include painting and writing poetry...Trained in Sweden during the summer of 2012...Favorite player is Marissa Campbell and favorite team is the United States women's national team...Favorite movies are the A-Team and Blind Side...Volunteered with special needs children...Interested in psychology and bioengineering.