Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University women's soccer program and head coach Andy McCaslin unveiled the Bulldogs' 2014 recruiting class and the addition of seven prep recruits as part of National Signing Day on Wednesday (Feb. 5).
The Bulldogs, who reached the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Tournament Semifinals for the second consecutive season in McCaslin's first season as head coach last fall, took an important step forward in continuing the program's upward climb with the announcement of this year's recruiting class.
Ferris State inked seven in-state prep products, who will all join the Bulldog program as freshmen in eligibility for the fall 2014 campaign. The group includes defender Sabrina Austin (Macomb/Shelby Eisenhower), midfielder Brenna Cockerill (Brighton), midfielder Rachel Fouts (Richland/Gull Lake), forward Danielle Golla (Hartland), defender Karen Nichols (Hartland), defender Audrey Romine (Shelby Township/Eisenhower) and midfielder Hilerie Schatzle (New Baltimore/Anchor Bay).
"I'm beyond thrilled with the way this class has come together," said McCaslin. "We were able to find some very good players to fill some much needed gaps in our roster and these ladies have the ability to come in and compete for spots straight away.
"With this class, we've added some size and we've gotten more athletic along with bringing in extremely competitive student athletes. Each player that is coming in has played at a very high level of club soccer and that background will immediately impact our training sessions and push the entire roster so we can continue to build on the success we've developed over the past few seasons," he added.
Ferris State wrapped up the 2013 season with a 9-8-2 overall record under McCaslin as the Bulldogs posted back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in school history and reached the league tournament semifinals for only the third time in the program's 15 years. This past year marked Ferris State's fourth consecutive conference tournament appearance, which is also the longest stretch in school history. FSU's trip to the semifinals also represented the first time in school history in which the Bulldogs have advanced to the second round of the conference tournament in back-to-back years.
FSU closed the 2013 campaign with a 7-1 overall record at home this season and the lone loss was a 1-0 non-conference setback to rival and eventual national champion Grand Valley State. Overall, FSU outscored the opponents by a 23-4 count in Big Rapids with five shutouts. Last fall also represented only the sixth time in the program's 15-year history in which the Bulldogs have won at least nine contests in a season.
"This group of recruits will be a great addition to an already strong core group as we head toward the main goal of an NCAA tournament berth and beyond," McCaslin said. "There is a good balance of attacking and defending players that fit our system extremely well. I'm confident that they'll come in with the right attitudes and work rate and will fight for spots in the lineup early.
"From the beginning of the process for this year's class, we've found some quality players which I liked all along, and watching them more and more, I've seen outstanding improvements in each of their games that will help us get to the next level," he said. "Most importantly though, they are all exceptional people and students with great families that will fit into our team dynamic very well. They're going to make a tremendous impact at Ferris State University and within our program."
Below is a look at each of Ferris State's six recruits:
#11 Sabrina Austin
Macomb, Mich./Shelby Eisenhower
All-Conference honoree ... Helped Eisenhower High School to Division I State Championships four-straight years from 2010-13 ... The squad posted three consecutive unbeaten campaigns ... Helped her team to four-straight Macomb Area Conference Red Division titles ... Played both at defender and midfield ... Daughter of Scott and Sue Austin ... Coached by Mehrdad Nekoogar ... Three-year letterwinner ... Also played club soccer for the Michigan Gators and Vardar ... Active in the school's Spanish and Key Clubs ... Plans to major in either diagnostic medical sonography or nursing/dental hygiene ... Has an older sister, Stefanie ... Interests include snowboarding and camping ... Likes to travel ... Helped the Vardar travel team to a third place finish in the Great Lakes Division.
Coach McCaslin on Austin:
"Sabrina is coming to us from Vardar's ECNL training environment which has produced many great players. She's a natural defender who tackles hard and is calm on the ball and very good with it at her feet. She's very aware on the field and athletic enough to cover big areas quickly. She showed extremely well at the center back position at our prospect camp over the summer and I'm very excited to have a player of her caliber join us."
#4 Brenna Cockerill
Served as team captain ... Played at the center mid position ... Posted seven goals and 13 assists during the 2013 season for Brighton High School ... Claimed honorable mention all-league recognition ... Earned All-League laurels a year ago ... Helped the Michigan Hawks club program to a state championship in 2013 ... Played on the 2013 State Cup team ... Has traveled to Alaska and walked on glaciers ... Her brother is a two-time national AAU champion in hockey ... The daughter of Charles and Laurie Cockerill ... Coached by Deepak Snivraman ... Three-year varsity letterwinner ... Also previously played for the Michigan Jaguars ... Has been active in several school organizations ... Plans to major in business.
Coach McCaslin on Cockerill:
"Brenna is a gifted midfielder who has gotten nothing but better through this recruiting cycle. Coming from Hawks, she's trained and competed at a very high level for a number of years now. Her speed of play and vision has vastly improved and she's really becoming a link in the center of the field for her teams. She's creative in the attack and makes great decisions with her final pass making her extremely dangerous going forward."
#7 Rachel Fouts
Richland, Mich./Gull Lake
Three-time all-conference honoree ... Claimed first team all-state accolades along with Kalamazoo Gazette Dream Team laurels as a junior in 2013 ... Also earned all-state laurels her sophomore season in 2012 ... Has previously claimed all-district, all-region and all-area recognition multiple times ... Tallied 17 goals and 16 assists in 2013 as team posted a 21-1-1 overall record ... Led Gull Lake to conference, district, regional and state titles last year ... Her prep team was also ranked 20th in the nation ... Scored 13 goals and seven assists as a sophomore in 2012 ... Coached by Jeff Corstange ... Four-year letterwinner ... Also has competed in basketball ... Daughter of Ken and Jan Fouts ... Has played for multiple club teams including the Kalamazoo Kingdom, TNT Dynamite and the Michigan Olympic Development program state team ... National Honor Society member ... Plans to major in biology/pre-physical therapy.
Coach McCaslin on Fouts:
"I've known Rachel for a long time and she's always had a tremendous impact on the games she plays. The last few years in the high school game, she was paired with another talented center midfielder so at times I think she was never really able to shine as brightly as she could, but she's got the ability. A testament to that is how she made the Region II team that went down to Boca Raton with the best players in the region, representing Michigan and TNT out of Lansing and did extremely well in a very challenging environment against the best players in her age group from the country. She's got a great touch on the ball, she's got tremendous vision and has the ability to put the ball where it needs to be, whether it be in the path of a run or the back of the net."
#9 Dani Golla
Competed for the Michigan Jaguar College Showcase team in lieu of playing prep soccer at the high school level ... Coached by Andy Richards ... Traveled the country with the Jaguars for five years ... Helped lead squad to the Michigan State Cup Championship in 2012 ... The team also was a Michigan State Cup finalist in 2013 and a quarterfinalist in both 2011 and 2014 ... Helped the club win the Mead Cup along with the Disney Showcase title in 2014 ... Daughter of Christopher and Wendy Golla ... Has played with the Michigan Jaguars Green '97 team since 2009 ... National Honor Society member ... Plans to major in health care systems administration.
Coach McCaslin on Golla:
"Dani comes to us from the Michigan Jags and has been a leader for them on and off the field. She scores goals, can play with her back to the goal, but has also added the ability to sneak out into the wide areas of the field and go at players. She's improved her ability to be dangerous going forward and can break people down with her speed on the dribble or with a tricky little pass in the final third."
#16 Karen Nichols
Has twice claimed Scholar-Athlete Award recognition ... Scored four goals and posted two shutouts in net as a goalkeeper with 105 saves in the 2011 season for Hartland High School ... Led team to a 14-3-3 overall record ... Tallied four goals and five assists in 2012 along with a 0.48 goals against average ... Guided Hartland to a 17-2-1 mark along with a conference championship as a sophomore ... Played on the Michigan Jaguars showcase team in 2013 ... Has helped lead teams to both district and conference crowns ... Also has been a member of state cup semifinal and finalist teams ... Coached by Andrew Kartsounes ... Has also been active in basketball ... Has played for the Michigan Jaguars club program since 2009 ... Daughter of Bryan and Lori Nichols ... Plans to major in nursing.
Coach McCaslin on Nichols:
"Karen is another player coming to us from the Jags. She played most of her career as a forward, but has since spent most of her time of late as an outside back. She's got good size and speed. She closes quickly on attackers defensively and finds herself in good spots to win the ball and connect to her teammates. One of the things I really like about Karen is her ability to get forward from the back, and recover if and when needed."
#23 Audrey Romine
Shelby Township, Mich./Eisenhower
Three-year varsity letterwinner ... Played her initial two prep seasons at Romeo High School ... Has claimed team Scholar-Athlete honors ... Two-time all-academic selection ... Scored eight goals for the Michigan Rush as they posted a 13-4-5 mark during the fall 2013 season ... Had five goals for her prep team in the 2013 spring season ... Helped lead her team to a state semifinal appearance ... Has competed in premier division competition for the Michigan Gators and the Michigan Rush ... Previously participated in Disney and North Carolina Showcases ... Daughter of Matthew and Beverly Romine ... Plans to major in dental hygiene.
Coach McCaslin on Romine:
"Audrey came on the radar very late in the recruiting cycle, but as soon as I knew she was still available in the class, I wanted her to be in Bulldog red. She comes to us from the Michigan Rush and before that the Michigan Gators. Audrey is a strong and athletic player who has great speed and quickness. As a center back, she organizes the rest of the line and the lines in front well. She has the versatility to play in the midfield as well. She's not afraid to tackle hard or challenge for balls in the air and she'll definitely bring some grit to our group."
#24 Hilerie Schatzle
New Baltimore, Mich./Anchor Bay
Three-time All-Macomb Athletic Conference academic honoree ... Named to the 2013 All-State team ... Also claimed all-region and all-district honors last year ... Has been both an all-conference and all-county selection ... Scored 10 goals with 18 assists in 2013 ... Established a new school single-season record with her 18 assists ... Guided team to back-to-back MAC White Championships in 2012 and 2013 along with two-straight district crowns ... Played in Disney's 3v3 World Championship in Florida in her first season of travel soccer ... Has traveled to many tournaments across the midwest .... Prep teammate of current FSU soccer player Hunter Dolan ... Four-year letterwinner ... National Honor Society member ... Coached by Kevin Grammens ... Also has competed in basketball ... Played for the Michigan Olympic Development Program in 2007, 2009 and 2013 ... Has played club soccer for the Michigan Hawks East ... Daughter of Mike and Sandy Schatzle ... Plans to major in nursing.
Coach McCaslin on Schatzle:
"Hilerie is joining us from Hawks East. Hilerie is a versatile player and can play in the middle of the field or wide. She's got great athleticism and when she's on the ball she attacks with a great deal of pace. She's crafty in tight areas which makes her dangerous going forward. This past summer, Hilerie also represented the state of Michigan at the regional championships for the 1996 age group."
Ferris State Women's Soccer Inks Seven Prep Student-Athletes On National Signing Day