FORT MYERS, Fla. – After winning the program’s first-ever Atlantic Sun championship in the fall, FGCU women’s soccer head coach Jim Blankenship announced the signing of eight student-athletes to the 2011 signing class on Tuesday afternoon.
Melissa Arnold (Sicklerville, N.J./Timber Creek Regional HS), Kaila Browe (Kendall, N.Y./Kendall Central HS), Megan Fox (Valrico, Fla./Durant HS), Danielle LeRoy (Tampa, Fla./H.B. Plant HS), Dani Schulman (New Port Richey, Fla./Gulf HS), Kristen Toft (Eustis, Fla./Eustis HS), Sam Vinton (Ada, Mich./Forest Hills Central HS) and Shannen Wacker (Parker, Colorado/Ponderosa HS) will have four years of eligibility and begin play in fall 2011.
“We are excited about our incoming group for the 2011 season as these girls fill the spots left by 10 graduating seniors,” said Blankenship. “The program has done so well in its first four years and this class will help us continue to succeed on the field. The group will add a lot of athleticism to our team. They have been highly successful at the club level and we are looking forward to that translating into the fall.”
Arnold, who is the all-time leading goal scorer (33) at Timber Creek Regional, was a first team All-Conference selection in 2007, 2009 and 2010. She was also named to the Courier Post All-Group 3 first team, Philadelphia Inquirer All-South Jersey first team and the SJSCA All-South Jersey first team after her senior season. Arnold was named to the All-State third team after leading her team to the South Jersey Group 3 Soccer Championship. Under head coach Neil Condon, Arnold plays for Cherry Hill FC Power. She is also a member of the National Honor Society (NHS) and chose FGCU for its beautiful campus and a place to continue her education. Arnold plans to major in Resort and Hotel Hospitality.
A native of Kendall, N.Y., Browe is a three-time All-Greater Rochester honorable mention forward. As the captain of Kendall’s squad, she was named to the 2009 and 2010 All-State team for NY State Class C and was a three-time Genesee Region All-Star member. Browe led her team to the state cup finals in 2008, 2009 and 2010, which included winning the championship in 2009. Over her five year varsity career, Browe amassed 31 goals and 28 assists. She plays for head coach Tom Dardaganis on the Empire United Rochester club team. Browe chose FGCU because of the location of the school and because it has her planned major of physical therapy.
Fox was a goalkeeper at Durant High School and guided her team to a district title in 2009. She was named to the Western Conference Federal Division first team. A native of Valrico, Fla., Fox earned Durant’s Player of the Year award in 2009 and 2010 and was also a Tampa Tribune’s All-Hillsborough County honorable mention. Fox played for the Real Salt Lake Florida club under Jim Cote and most recently switched to the Brandon FC Flames 92/93 Blue club team. She will graduate with a 4.83 grade-point average and chose FGCU because of the great campus and strong women’s soccer program. Fox plans to major in physical therapy.
Traveling just a few hours south, LeRoy comes to FGCU after a career at H.B. Plant High School. The goalkeeper plays for Real Salt Lake Florida and was selected to the 2010 Super Y-League ’93 ODP. She has won the coaches awards two years in a row and posted seven shutouts in her junior season in which the Panthers went 21-2-1. Joining Fox, LeRoy also plays on the Real Salt Lake Florida club team, but under the tutelage of Ben Strawbridge. The Tampa, Fla., native chose FGCU over South Carolina State and FAU because it felt like home. LeRoy is active in Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD), NHS and both the social studies and Spanish honor societies. Stemming from her involvement in Future Business Leaders of America in high school, LeRoy plans to major in accounting.
After leading Gulf High School to a 17-3-1 record in 2010, the best in school history, Schulman became the first women’s soccer player to sign with a Division I school. She is a two-time All-Sunshine Athletic Conference selection and was selected to the All-State team after her junior season. She also earned All-Pasco County second team honors in 2009. The starting sweeper for the Buccaneers finished with two goals and two assists on the season. She plays club under coach George Fotopoulos for Hillsbough County United. Schulman chose FGCU because of the campus atmosphere and the continuing strength of the women’s soccer program. Schulman, a Sunshine Athletic Conference Scholar Athlete, plans to major in guidance counseling.
Toft is a starter on a Eustis squad that reached the Class 4A state semifinals last year. The Panthers made it to the Class 4A region semifinals this season. Toft took part in the Virginia ODP and Florida ODP as well as competed in the Super-Y National Tournament. In 2010, the Eustis, Fla., product was a Daily Commercial All-Area second team selection. She plays under coach Bobby Hurring for Florida Soccer Alliance. Toft picked FGCU in order to play soccer at a Division I level and because it had criminal forensics as a major.
The native of Ada, Mich., Vinton chose to head south to attend FGCU. She is a two-time All-Conference first team selection and a 2010 All-State third team pick. She was part of the Michigan ODP team in 2009 and on the Super Y ODP in 2010. Vinton, a 5-2 forward who had 16 goals and 12 assists as a senior now turns her attention to the Grand Rapids Crew U-17 club program under coach Marc Frankland. Vinton is involved with NHS at Forest Hills Central and is a four-year academic honoree. Vinton chose FGCU over NYU and Auburn among others so that she can be at a school that offers an excellent soccer program, while achieving her goal of being a physical therapist.
A three-year starter for Ponderosa High School in Denver, Colo., Wacker led the team in 2010 with 21 goals and five assists. Her 21 goals were good for third-best in 5A. After her junior year performance, she received All-Continental League first team honors and second-team All-State 5A accolades. She had a combined 20 goals in her first two seasons for back-to-back All-League honors. Wacker played club with Real Colorado 92-93 National and also the Real Colorado 91-92 National team under coach Lorne Donaldson. FGCU was Wacker’s choice over Jacksonville and Villanova because it is the best athletic and academic environment for her to achieve her goals.
FGCU ended the 2010 campaign with an 11-4-2 overall record and an unbeaten 8-0-2 A-Sun mark to claim its first-ever regular season championship in the program’s short four-year history. FGCU’s unbeaten conference record is the 11th of its kind in A-Sun history and the sixth since the league left divisions following the 1998 season.
Despite winning the A-Sun regular season, FGCU could not compete in the conference postseason tournament due to the NCAA reclassifying period. FGCU will be eligible for postseason play in 2011.