On the heels of one of the greatest seasons in school history, Central Christian College women’s soccer coach Scott Fogarty has announced his incoming 12-member recruiting class for the 2016 season.
Everything the Lady Tigers touched turned to gold last year as they compiled a 20-6 record and took fourth in the NCCAA National Tournament.
While Fogarty returns much of his firepower from that exciting team, he has added a passel of newcomers that will push those starters and contend for playing time.
Here are the newest Lady Tigers:
• Ashleigh Caudillo (Grand Prairie, Texas) - Caudillo is from South Grand Prairie High School and was the first addition to the Class of 2016. She earned second-team All-District during her senior season, helping her team to a fourth-place district finish. She is expected to contribute either in defense or in central midfield for the Lady Tigers. "We are excited at the possibilities that Ashleigh brings with her,” Fogarty said. “She's a good defender and uncomplicated in possession. When she committed early in the process, it filled a void we had and allowed us to focus on other areas of need knowing that we had a very capable player that could play in defense or in midfield."
• Shannon Huesca (Huntington Beach, Calif.) - Huesca played in the very competitive Southern California Coast Soccer League. She played primarily as an outside back for her NHB FC Black club team and coach Francisco Flores. "Shannon's experience and soccer IQ is going to be a great addition to our defensive unit,” Fogarty said. “We've definitely improved our defense from last season and Shannon is a big part of that. In addition to outside back, her technical ability also means she will likely be spending some time as a defensive mid for us as well."
• Morgan Phillips (Cedar Park, Texas) - Phillips was the first goalkeeper to commit to the program for 2016 and will be in prime position to challenge for a starting spot in net. She was the starting keeper at Vista Ridge High School and helped lead the team to only its second appearance in the state tournament ever. Her club team was the Lonestars Red 97. "Morgan has a lot of upside as a keeper,” Fogarty said. “It seems to be a natural fit for her and yet she's only been playing the position for a few years after switching from midfield. I'm looking forward to seeing where she'll be after a season. On top of that, she's a fun kid and will fit right in with the team."
• Jocelyn Martinez (Cedar Hill, Texas) - Martinez was somewhat overlooked by recruiters due to injuries, but she’s now healthy and could be a steal. She's a tenacious defender with lots of experience and can play either centrally or on the outside. "Jocelyn is a real find for us,” Fogarty said. “We first spotted her two years ago as a sophomore before a couple of injuries, but we'll have to wait and see how much of her speed she's lost. I'm hopeful, however, knowing her commitment and dedication to getting back to full health and how hard she's worked. She's very excited to be coming in and proving herself and we're happy she chose us over her other options."
• LeJay Longoria (Bay City, Texas) - Longoria is the first offensive player in the 2016 group. She was first-team All-Region this past season. She is the first girls soccer player from Bay City High School to sign on to play at the college level. "The excitement coming from LeJay is going to be contagious and we're very excited to have her here,” Fogarty said. “She's a creative player who can not only generate scoring chances but can finish them as well."
• Abbi Koehn (Marysville, Wash.) - Koehn was the sweeper for Trinity Lutheran College in 2015 that faced Central at nationals, a game CCC won 2-1. She anchored the defense and helped lead Trinity Lutheran to its first-ever regional title and national tournament appearance. She made the switch after news of Trinity Lutheran closing its doors. "Abbi is a big pickup for us,” Fogarty said. “She's blessed with speed, athleticism and the experience of a national tournament. It was unfortunate to hear about Trinity closing, but as soon as she contacted us, I immediately remembered who she was and knew she would be perfect for us.”
• Rachel Meier (Anaheim, Calif.) - One of four incoming transfers for this year's class, Meier spent the previous two seasons on a very good Orange Coast College team under coach Kevin Smith. Meier finished second on the team in assists in 2015 and was utilized as an offensive sparkplug in attack. "We're very excited to have Rachel joining us,” Fogarty said. “We tried getting her here two years ago, but it wasn't the right time. Now she comes having spent two years playing at the college level and she's better than I remember. We plan to utilize her creativity and technical ability to help us replace the goals that we graduated from last season. Expect her to have an immediate impact."
• Nicole Boyer (San Antonio, Texas) - As the starting goalkeeper for the Lady Dragons 97 out of San Antonio, Boyer is expected to provide depth and competition at the goalie position. She chose Central Christian College from a number of offers. "With Nicole, we get another goalkeeper who originally started her career in the field,” Fogarty said. “I always push my keepers to be adequate with their foot skills and having someone who spent a number of years playing in the field, I don't think that will be an issue for her. We'll work with Nicole to improve her technique but the potential is there."
• Jamie Barrett (Grandview, Mo.) - Barrett spent her first two years of college ball patrolling the midfield for MCC-Blue River. She provides the combination of size and ball control that is needed in Fogarty's midfield and will provide depth in an area the Tigers were lacking it in years past. "Jamie is another one who we tried to get two years ago and we just couldn't make it work,” Fogarty said. “It happens in recruiting, but we're happy to have her now. I noticed Jamie in her senior year at Grandview Christian and was impressed with her technical control in tight spaces and ability to get the ball under pressure and pass out of trouble. Last year we lacked the players to push our starters in the central midfield area but Jamie helps with that."
• Cherokee Richardson-Velasco (Shawnee, Okla.) - With the addition of Richardson-Velasco, the Lady Tigers add their second player from the Sooner State. She has experience in both the field and in the net. As a player for Shawnee Utd 98 and Shawnee High School, she provides some flexibility and options in terms of positioning. "Cherokee is a great kid with a very positive attitude,” Fogarty said. “The upside with her is she gives us options in multiple positions. The challenge is finding where she fits in the best and where the teams needs her the most, but those are good problems to have."
• Gabriella Barnard (Elk Grove, Calif.) - Barnard played for two very competitive teams, her club team FC Elk Grove and Franklin High School. She is expected to step in right away as a defender and improve a defense that lacked experience and depth. "Gabi is the type of player you want on the field and the type of teammate that makes those around her better,” Fogarty said. “She has a very strong drive to be the best that she can be and that kind of attitude is infectious. She's a defender who can get up the field and we expect her to get involved at both ends. She also possesses leadership qualities that are rare in a freshman. I see her as a future captain."
• Vanessa Mejia (Anaheim, Calif.) - Mejia, a redshirt, is a very athletic, energetic player who can play anywhere on the back line and likes to play in the center mid. "It'll be nice to have Vanessa on the field this year,” Fogarty said. “She provides a spark and drive that sometimes went missing last year. Once she gets going, there's no stopping her. We just have to figure out the best position and use for all that energy. Fortunately, she's had a year to learn our style and systems so we expect her to have an impact right away."
• Note — Central Christian College Sports Information Director Jeremy Nelson contributed to this post.