Girls Soccer: 23 area players sign with Division I programs
BY STEVE NEMETH For Sun-Times Media February 6, 2013 6:48PM
Zoe Swift (21) of defending state champion Naperville North signed a National Letter of Intent this week to play soccer with Kentucky. She was one of 23 girls soccer players from the Naperville area to sign with Division I programs. | Jon Cunningham~For
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Updated: March 10, 2013 6:09AM
Perhaps the most appropriate question is which women’s collegiate soccer programs are not recruiting the Naperville area?
Whether it’s the quality of the high school programs, the competitive level of clubs, or a combination of the two, Wednesday’s National Letter of Intent signings verified that the Naperville area is on everyone’s map.
Everyone — as in NCAA Division I schools from UCLA to Wake Forest, from Miami to eight of the Big Ten’s dozen schools, to Division II or Division III of the NCAA or the NAIA.
From Naperville’s top six programs, 23 girls were signed by Division I programs.
In a press release issued by Team Chicago Academy, Susan Peel, director of the NLI office at the NCAA Eligibility Center, noted that less that two percent of all high-school-aged athletes earn athletic scholarships. Obviously, fewer are soccer players.
Wednesday’s Signing Day was projected to have around 36,000 student-athletes adding their signatures to documents with an estimate of 3,300 for women’s soccer. But the almost two dozen mentioned previously, are not from the entire state, just this area.
Six athletes signing national letters from Neuqua Valley today were Zoey Goralski (UCLA), Gianna Dal Pozzo (Miami), Hope D’Addario (Illinois), Shannon Donlon (Bucknell), Brooke Ksiazek (Illinois State) and Lauren Cicero (College of Charleston).
Defending Class 3A state champion Naperville North had five players decide their future careers — Zoe Swift (Kentucky), Christa Szalach (Purdue), Angela Widlacki (Penn State), Maria Grygleski (Northwestern) and Cora Climo (Bucknell).
“We’ll look anywhere and everywhere to get the best and the brightest,” said veteran coach Ben Landis on why an NCAA tourney program like Bucknell landed two area athletes despite roughly an 11-hour, 675-mile distance. “We have high standards academically and athletically, but this is the first year we’ve had need-based scholarships available and it certainly paid off for us in being able to compete with other national programs in recruiting top talent to continue our program’s rise.”
Naperville Central boasts a trio of Division I commitments in Veronica Ellis (Indiana), Sabrina Cisneros (Bowling Green State) and Autumn Muckenhirn (North Dakota State), with Hannah Smith choosing D-III North Central.
Boasting the richest legacy of collegiate competitors, Waubonsie Valley has a four-person class which will bring the Warrior roster to play at a higher level up to 52. This spring’s quartet includes Jenna Romano (Wake Forest), Rachele Armand (Louisville), and Kendall Wilde (Illinois-Chicago), along with Karla DiJohn, opting for D-III Notre Dame College in Ohio.
Metea Valley keeper Megan Geldernick signed with Ohio State while Mustang teammate Kiley Dunning joins Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne. Benet standout Amanda Kaiser plans on continuing her career with Illinois Wesleyan.