Feb. 6, 2013
Minnesota women's soccer announces the addition of eight talented athletes as part of the recruiting class that will join the team in the fall of 2013. Six Minnesota residents and two Wisconsin natives have committed to the Maroon and Gold with the signing of National Letters of Intent this afternoon.
Head coach Stefanie Golan and her coaching staff have put together a well-rounded pool of incoming players made up of Rashida Beal, Erin Booth, Mara Dougherty, Tarah Hobbs, Vanessa Johnston, Simone Kolander, Ashley Pafko, and Josee Stiever.
"We are excited to add these eight players to the Gopher Soccer Family," said Golan. "This group will add both versatility and depth to our roster. They all have the potential to contribute immediately to our program's success both on and off the field. It is a privilege to be a Gopher, and these players understand that the work has just begun as they make things official today. Our entire staff is looking forward to helping this group attain its full potential over the course of the next four years. They will represent the Maroon and Gold well in all facets of life and we are excited to see their families in the stands at ELR."
Rashida Beal is one of two Wisconsin natives to join the Gopher squad in the fall. She is a two-time letterwinner for Germantown High School in Germantown, Wis. In 2011, she was picked as an All-Conference first team and an All-Area second team selection. She was also voted the Defensive MVP by her teammates. Beal competes for the North Shore United club, a team made four consecutive appearances at the Wisconsin State Cup Finals and captured championship victories in 2010 and 2012.
A native of Bemidji, Minn., Erin Booth joins the Gophers as the current leading scorer at Bemidji High School with 120 career points (66 goals, 54 assists). A five-time varsity letterwinner, she is a decorated player, including being a three-time All-Conference selection, two-time All-State selection, and three-time team Most Valuable Player. She also helped lead her team to a two championship titles in the Lakes to Prairie conference. On the club level, Booth trained with the St. Paul Blackhawks in 2012 and is currently with St. Croix U19 squad for 2013.
Mara Dougherty comes in as one of two goalkeepers tabbed to add to the roster. A native of Medina, Minn., Dougherty attended Wayzata High School where she was a part of the two-time State Championship team (2011, 2012). In 2011, she was named to the State All-Tournament team and was picked for the All-State and All-Conference squads the following year. She was also given an honorable mention by the Pioneer Press and was voted the Player of the Year by her fellow teammates. She was also a member of the Wayzata Soccer Club, playing for coach Clint Connealy.
Also a goalkeeper specialty, Tarah Hobbs is out of Hugo, Minn. and attended White Bear Lake High School. A 2012 NSCAA All-American and three-time All-Conference athlete, Hobbs guided the Bears to a Suburban East Conference championship and a runner-up finish at the 2012 state tournament. She was honored by the Minnesota Youth Soccer Association for accomplishments and the Olympic Development Program after training with the ODP for one year. Hobbs played club at the Minnesota Thunder Academy and was a member of the 2011 State Cup championship team.
Vanessa Johnston is a versatile player from local DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis, Minn. She has marked playing time at both forward and defensive positions, earning her the DeLaSalle Soccer Focus, Effort, and Commitment Award. Johnston is a four-time All-Conference honoree. This past season, she helped her team become the school's first-ever sectional finalists. On the club level, she trained with Minnesota Thunder Academy and was a member of the Minnesota Olympic Development Program from 2010 to 2012. She is also a letterwinner in track and was a state qualifier for the triple jump.
Lakeville, Minn. native, Simone Kolander is the most decorated Gopher recruit to join in the incoming class. Through four years of varsity competition, Kolander has collected recognition as a two-time Gatorade State Soccer Player of the Year finalist, a four-time All-Conference first team selection, a two-time Minnesota All-State and All-Metro honoree, and an NSCAA All-Region selection in 2012. With Kolander's help, Lakeville North has captured two conference championships, three sectional championships, and has made three state tournament appearances where they finished as high as third place. For her efforts, her team has named her the Most Valuable Player all four years, claiming Offensive MVP in 2009, 2010, and 2011, then the overall honor in 2012. Kolander currently stands as Lakeville North's school record holder in career goals (66), career assists (52), single season goals (23) and single season assists (29). Outside of high school, she has competed in the Elite Clubs National League as a member of the Minnesota Thunder Academy since its inception (U15 to U18), making her a two-time Minnesota State Cup Champion and a part of the 2012 U17 National runner-up squad.
Ashley Pafko joins the Maroon and Gold from Blaine, Minn., where she was a four-time letterwinner for varsity soccer. This past year, the team claimed their second consecutive sectional championships and went on to place fourth at the state tournament. Pafko picked up notification as an All-Conference, All-State, and All-Region award winner. She was voted team's Most Valuable Defender and Most Valuable Player. She also earned an All-American nomination. Like fellow recruits Kolander, Johnston, and Dougherty, Pafko is a graduate of the Minnesota Thunder Academy club team and was a member of the runner-up squad at the 2012 national tournament. She participated in the Minnesota Olympic Development Program in 2009 as part of regional and state teams.
Josee Stiever comes from Cedarburg, Wis., as a highly-touted prep player. In 2012, she had a fantastic year on the pitch, earning her the 2012 Gatorade State Player of the Year and the 2012 Wisconsin State Player of the Year, after helping her team to a 19-1-1 record and a conference title. She was also hailed as an NSCAA All-American. She has picked up three-strait honors for the All-Conference, All-Area, and All-State first teams. In 2011 she was also an All-Region selection. Played her prep ball for North Shore United and was a member of the 2009 and 2011 state championship squads and 2010 and 2012 state finalist teams.
These eight Gopher newcomers will join a squad of 13 returning players, including NSCAA All-American and First Team All-Big Ten selection Taylor Uhl. Minnesota also returns Katie Thyken and Haley Helverson who both also received postseason honors for their efforts during the 2012 campaign.
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