The University of Minnesota soccer program has announced that four players will join the Golden Gophers for the 2008 season: Shari Eckstrom (Brooklyn Park, Minn.), Cat Parkhill (Apple Valley, Minn.), Josie Solie (Mahtomedi, Minn.) and Tamara Strahota (Eagan, Minn.).
A year after signing the seventh-best recruiting class in the Great Lakes Region (the third straight year Minnesota has had a class ranked regionally), the Gophers’ 2008 class appears once again to rank amongst the nation’s best. It boasts one NSCAA/adidas All-Region Team member (Solie), two three-time All-Metro players (Eckstrom and Strahota), two Region II ODP team members (Eckstrom and Strahota) and the program’s first-ever Under-17 U.S. National Team member in goalkeeper Parkhill. Parkhill is also a two-time NSCAA/adidas High School All-American and generally regarded as one of the top goalkeeper recruits in the country.
Entering the 2008 recruiting season, Minnesota has signed five straight top-100 recruiting classes, with the last two ranked in the top 50 nationally.
"This is an incredible class for our program, and our coaches and our players are excited to welcome them to the Minnesota Soccer family,” said Minnesota head coach Mikki Denney Wright. “It is an extremely talented and diverse group that will impact our program immediately. It is a special year when you can recruit a group of players with this level of ability from your home state, and it is a testament to the quality and commitment of their coaches who have more than prepared them to compete at the highest level. These four young women are tremendous models of what we look to recruit at Minnesota Soccer great people, fantastic players and courageous leaders with an undying passion to be the best. We are very excited for Minnesota Soccer 2008!”
The 2008 signing class will augment what was already one of the Big Ten’s strongest returning squads. Last year’s Golden Gophers finished with a 9-8-2 overall record (5-5-1 in the Big Ten) and qualified for the Big Ten Tournament for the second time in three seasons, all while fielding one of the youngest starting lineups in the conference (including five freshmen).
Denney Wright’s program returns every starter from last year’s conference tournament team and has also added Woodbury, Minn. native Krystle Kallman (a transfer from West Virginia) to bolster the team’s backfield.
“With every starter set to return for the 2008 season, veteran defender Krystle Kallman's transfer gives Minnesota incredible experience and depth,” said Randy Diggs, senior editor of SoccerBuzz.com. “The Gophers have pulled in the right pieces with this (2008) rookie group to complement nicely the last two signing classes and have positioned the program to be amongst the best in the Big Ten.”