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Feb. 5, 2014
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State women's soccer Head Coach Erica Walsh announced the addition of nine new Nittany Lions on Wednesday morning. The incoming class includes several highly rated players from across the country with Maddie Elliston (Omaha, Neb.) and Katy Keen (Zionsville, Ind.) traveling from the Midwest, Britne Holderby (Chelsea, Ala.) hailing from the South and Elizabeth Ball (Richmond, Va.), Isabelle Clauss (Clarks Summit, Pa.), Frances Crouse (Greensburg, Pa.), Haleigh Echard (Lebanon, Pa.), Meghan Schafer (Langhorne, Pa.) and Liisi Vink-Lainas (Troy, N.Y.) joining from the Northeast.
"We are incredibly pleased to welcome these nine very talented players into the Penn State family," said Walsh. "It is so nice to have the best talent in Pennsylvania as well as the some of the very best players from around the country join our program. The talent and depth of this class will be a prominent part of our future success and we are confident that they will help us to the fifth College Cup berth in our 20 year history."
Forward Richmond, Va. Deep Run Richmond Strikers ECNL
One of the top players out of Virginia, Ball earned NSCAA High School All-America honors in 2013 and is a three-time first team All-State and All-Metro selection. Ball has also been named a Gatorade Virginia Player of the Year nominee two years in a row. Ball has been a part of the Olympic Development Program since 2008. Coached by Brooke Roney, Nicole Marks and Jen Woodie, the striker helped lead Deep Run High School to the State quarterfinals as a freshman, State semifinals in her sophomore season and a State Championship in 2013. The standout was one of the top 100 players in the country and invited to the prestigious id2/The Chance National Training Camp in 2012 and 2013, giving her the unique opportunity of training at the Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Ore. A multi-sport athlete, Ball is a member of the Deep Run Track and Field team as well.
Erica Walsh on Ball: "Elizabeth is a fast, athletic forward who scores goals at all levels but she is also a very good overall soccer player with the versatility to help us in a few different places. She is good in the air, good defensively and basically can do anything that is asked of her."
Ball on Penn State: "I chose Penn State for the amazing atmosphere on campus, along with the great academics, the team chemistry and the caliber of the coaches."
Defense Clarks Summit, Pa. Abington Heights Albertson Fury
Clauss comes to Penn State with several state accolades to her name. Clauss is a three-time Scranton Times Tribune Division I All-Star, a two-time All-State honoree (2012, 2013) and was named an NSCAA All-Region II selection in 2013. The defender played club soccer with the Albertson Fury and helped the squad to the North American League National Championship in 2013. At Abington Heights under Head Coach E.T. Hunter, Clauss led the Comets to the PIAA District 2 AA Championship in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Clauss is also a three-time letter-winner in track and field at Abington Heights.
Erica Walsh on Clauss: "Isabelle is a very athletic defender with a bit of bite to her - which she comes by naturally from her dad Chris who played football here at Penn State. Her training ethic and desire to challenge herself and those around her will make her an asset for us in the backline."
Clauss on Penn State: "My parents are both alumni of Penn State and I grew up loving the school. I have always dreamed about coming to Penn State so when soccer provided the opportunity to go and play there was no other choice."
Forward Greensburg, Pa. Greensburg Catholic Beadling Soccer Club
As the top goal scorer in Pennsylvania history, Crouse will add offensive depth to the lineup in 2014. Crouse has experience with the U.S. Youth National Teams, having attended U.S. youth national camps since the age of 14. The forward collected NSCAA All-America accolades last season and was also named the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Player of the Year. Crouse has earned the Greensburg Tribune-Review Player of the Year Award three consecutive seasons and was named an All-State selection in 2012 and 2013 as well. A member of the Beadling Soccer Club under Head Coach Denny Kohlmyer, Crouse led her squad to three State Cup Championships, the regional finals in 2010 and a third-place finish in the national competition the same year. At Greensburg Catholic, Ashley Shasko coached Crouse and the Centurions to back-to-back WPIAL Championships in 2011 and 2012 and State Championships in 2012 and 2013. A three-sport athlete, Crouse is also a member of the Greensburg Catholic swimming and softball teams.
Erica Walsh on Crouse: "We are so fortunate to be adding Pennsylvania's most prolific scorer ever to our Penn State family! Frannie is an incredibly athletic goal-scorer and will join a long line of elite Nittany Lion strikers."
Crouse on Penn State: "I chose Penn State because of the campus, the coaches and my future teammates. Penn State also has a wonderful academic reputation. It just felt like the perfect fit for me."
Midfield Lebanon, Pa. Cedar Crest Penn Fusion `96
Another highly-acclaimed Pennsylvanian, Echard joins Penn State as one of the most talented midfielders in the country. Echard joined the ranks of the U.S. U-18 National Team in 2013. The Lebanon, Pa. native led the Penn Fusion '96 Gaels to the ECNL semifinal pool in the each of the last two seasons. Echard received several notable accolades under the tutelage of Cedar Crest Head Coach Lauren King, including NSCAA All-America laurels, NSCAA All-Region II honors and Lancaster-Lebanon Section I first team All-Star and Most Valuable Player plaudits. She is also a two-time All-State selection, two-time team captain and three-time Lebanon All-County team honoree.
Erica Walsh on Echard: "Haleigh is one of the best true wide players I've seen at the youth level in a long time. She has played at the highest level and is technically and athletically gifted enough to be an impact for us right away on either side of the field."
Echard on Penn State: "I chose Penn State for three main reasons: First, the staff was absolutely wonderful and made me feel at home. Second was the school - it is beautiful and has so many extracurricular opportunities for its students along with being a great place to receive an education. The final reason was the players - they made me feel welcome and are fun to be around. I know that playing soccer at Penn State is not only going to be competitive, but fun."
Defense Omaha, Neb. Omaha Marian Omaha Elite Girls Academy
One of the top recruits in the nation, Elliston brings a wealth of experience at the high school, club and international levels. Considered the No. 2 rated defender and No. 8 overall player in the country according to TopDrawerSoccer.com, Elliston will add stability to an already talented backline at Penn State. As a member of the Omaha Elite Girls coached by Marcus Kelcher, she helped lead her squad to the Nebraska State Cup Championship in 2009, 2010 and 2012. The standout was also a member of Sporting Blue Valley under Head Coach Huw Williams and led her team to the ECNL Heartland Division Championship in 2013. At Omaha Marian High, Elliston helped the Crusaders reach the Class A State Qualifier in 2011 and 2013 and the State Championship in 2012. Elliston raked in accolades in 2013, earning NSCAA All-America, Omaha World Herald Elite Eight All-Class team, and Nebraska Gatorade Player of the Year honors. She is also a two-time Lincoln Journal Star Class A All-State first team selection and Omaha World Herald All-Metro first team honoree. Elliston has participated in U.S. National Youth Team camps since 2010 and has been invited to play with the U-18 squad in the Ten Nations Tournament in Spain next month. She has also competed with the Region II U.S. Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program since 2009 and earned the title of team captain for the annual Thanksgiving Interregional four-straight years (2010-13). A two-sport athlete, Elliston competes for the Omaha Marian cross country team as well.
Erica Walsh on Elliston: "Maddie has been a mainstay in the U.S. national team program for the past few years. An outstanding attacking-minded outside back, we expect her to quickly establish herself and join an already stifling back line."
Elliston on Penn State: "Penn State is a top academic school with a beautiful campus, unbelievable facilities and an incredible coaching staff. The coaches made me feel right at home when I visited. When I stepped foot on campus I knew that Penn State was the right place for me. I cannot wait to suit up in my blue and white."
Defense Chelsea, Ala. Chelsea Birmingham United SA 1996 ECNL
Holderby is an accomplished defender out of Alabama. She has international experience, having trained in Holland with FC Twente by invitation from the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) in 2012. Coached by Andrew Brower with the Birmingham United SA (BUSA) ECNL team, she was named the team captain in 2013 and earned ECNL All-Event Team honors as a member of the U-16 team in Phoenix, Ariz. At Chelsea High, Holderby garnered a plethora of team, region and state awards. The defender is a two-time NSCAA All-State selection as well as a two-time All-County and All-Metro honoree (2012, 2013) and was named an Alabama High School All-Star Student-Athlete in 2013. Holderby set the school record in single-season goals with 26 in 2012 while helping the Fighting Hornets to the 5A State Championship.
Erica Walsh on Holderby: "A true left-sided player, we expect Britne to help us in the attack as well as in the back. Her tremendous left foot and her competiveness together will make her an invaluable part of this team moving forward."
Holderby on Penn State: "I chose Penn State for three main reasons: First, I absolutely love the campus. I immediately connected with the communal aspect of State College and the many surrounding state parks for me to explore. Secondly, I am attracted to the academic excellence of the school. I know that Penn State will prepare me for a career after college. Lastly, the women's soccer program is extremely impressive. Not only are the players great, but I know that the coaching staff have strong morals and care about each and every player on this team."
Midfield Zionsville, Ind. Zionsville Eclipse
Keen, a highly regarded recruit out of Indiana, will add experience and depth as a midfielder for the Nittany Lions. Keen has been a part of the Olympic Development Program Region II Team since 2010 and trained with the National Team in 2013. She also earned an invitation to the ECNL id2 regional training camp in 2012 and 2013. A member of the Eclipse Select soccer club under Head Coach Rory Dames, Keen helped lead her team to the U-15 National Title match, finishing as runner-up in 2013. At Zionsville High, the midfielder led her team in goals and assists in 2013, earning Hoosier Crossroads All-Conference, Indiana Soccer Coaches All-District and Top Team Player laurels. Keen was also named the 2013 Zionsville Invitational All-Tournament MVP and Zionsville Lady Eagles MVP. She received All-Conference and All-Region accolades in 2011 as well and was an Adidas Top Flight Freshman in 2010.
Erica Walsh on Keen: "We have been lucky enough to have Katy here and training hard with us for the past 3 weeks. She has been a great addition to our group! A true holding player with all kinds of talent, we expect her to play a big role in our team next fall."
Keen on Penn State: "I chose Penn State because of the opportunity to be coached by the best coaches and play for a top soccer program. There were so many great things about this campus that I liked; it was hard not to feel at home right away. Not only does Penn State have a great soccer program but the academic environment is also one of the best in the country so it was a perfect fit."
Forward Langhorne, Pa. Neshaminy FC Bucks
One of the top players out of Pennsylvania, Schafer will add talent and athleticism to Penn State's offensive lineup. As a member of the FC Bucks under Head Coach Ed Leigh, Schafer helped her team reach the ECNL Championship playoff bracket in 2012 and led the squad to the Pennsylvania State Cup Championship in 2013. At Neshaminy High, Schafer became the school record holder in goals (102) and assists (78) while helping the Redskins to the PIAA AAA State Championship and a perfect 25-0 record. She is a three-time NSCAA All-American and four-time All-Region selection and has earned the Pennsylvania State Coaches Association (PSCA) State Player of the Year Award two years running. Schafer received first team All-State laurels all four years as a Redskin and was named the Suburban One National League Player of the Year from 2010-13 as well. Schafer is a two-time Philadelphia Inquirer Player of the Year (2012, 2013) and has earned the title of Bucks County Courier Times Player of the Year three times (2010, 2012, 2013). A three-sport athlete, Schafer has lettered in basketball and track and field as well. She helped lead the Neshaminy basketball team to the Suburban One National League Title in 2012, earning All-Suburban League first team honors in 2011 and 2012. She was also a member of the school record 4x100 relay team that took third place in the PIAA State Meet in 2013 for the Redskins.
Erica Walsh on Schafer: "Megan Schafer is a winner. She is as competitive as they come and basically willed her high school team to a state championship this fall. She has the talent and a lot of the intangibles to make her a tremendous college player."
Schafer on Penn State: "I chose Penn State because it has everything that anyone could need for a great educational and academic experience. The first time I visited it felt like the perfect school and fit for me. The very successful women's soccer program and coaching staff coupled with the great academics made it an easy decision. I am very excited about becoming a part of this amazing program."
Midfield Wynantskill, N.Y. Troy FC Stars of Massachusetts
Vink-Lainas joins the Nittany Lions from Troy, NY but commutes to play her club soccer for the FC Stars of Mass in the ECNL under Jason Dewhurst. She has been a part of the Olympic Development Program since the age of 13, the ECNL player development program for the last two years and has been into the US Soccer training centers as well. She played 3 years of high school soccer for Troy High School and helped the Flying Horses to the Big Ten Conference Championship in 2010, earning Big Ten Conference Player of the Year and New York All-State team accolades. The midfielder is also a three-time Big Ten Conference first team selection.
Erica Walsh on Vink-Lainas: "An incredibly hard-working and dedicated midfielder, Liisi brings with her a work ethic and understanding of the game that is hard to find in combination. Her technical and tactical abilities make her special and will make us better."
Vink-Lainas on Penn State: "Penn State provides tremendous opportunity to grow and learn, both on and off the field. The environment around campus makes you feel like a part of a family and I am so excited to be a part of it."