FORT MYERS, Fla. – After winning the program’s first-ever Atlantic Sun tournament championship in the fall, FGCU women’s soccer head coach Jim Blankenship announced the signing of eight student-athletes to National Letters of Intent (NLI) to the 2012 class on Monday. The Eagles also welcome two transfers in Julia Roddar (Falun, Sweden/Shattuck-St.Mary’s Academy/Wisconsin) and Tamarah Stewart (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Los Osos HS/Kansas), who will join the team in the spring of 2012.
Emma Blackwell (Jenks, Oklahoma/Jenks HS), Brittany Brown (Rochester, N.Y./Greece Athena HS), Alex Cardenas (Lakewood Ranch, Fla./Lake Wood Ranch HS), Ally Kasun (Lancaster, Pa./Hempfield HS), Kaitlin Parker (Palm Harbor, Fla./Clearwater Central Catholic HS), Shea Rhoney (Lithia, Fla./Newsome HS), Carolyn Richards (Orlando Park, IL./Chicago Christian HS) and Ali Rogers (Naples, Fla./Gulf Coast HS) will begin play in fall 2012.
“Following the graduation of our most successful class in program history, including six All-Conference award winners, we welcome a class that we expect to follow the lead of those who came before them and take us to even greater heights as a program,” said Blankenship. “Adding two transfers from nationally known institutions, Julia Roddar (University of Wisconsin) & Tamarah Stewart (Kansas University) to a stout group of eight freshmen from all over the United States, we believe we have put together a class that, based on their club experience and performances, is second to none in the A-Sun. Filling key positions from the net out was our objective with this class and, from this group of ten players we feel confident we can replace the great performers and athletes we’ve seen move on from 2011. To have continued success is our goal and a ‘three-peat’ to claim another conference title is our expectation.”
With three years of eligibility remaining, Roddar, a transfer from the University of Wisconsin, played in all 20 games, starting 15 in the midfield last fall. A native of Falun, Sweden, Roddar had a breakout game against Purdue in which she scored a goal and added an assist. She recorded an assist against Dayton, finishing her freshman campaign with one goal with two assists on 19 shots. During her prep career, Roddar played for the Shattuck St. Mary’s soccer team in Minnesota but has a wide array of international experience as a native of Sweden. She has made 20 appearances for the Swedish National Under-15, Under-17 and Under-19 teams.
Stewart, from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., transfers to FGCU from Kansas with four years of eligibility remaining after redshirting last season. Stewart is a speedy defender that lettered three seasons for the Los Osos High School Grizzlies. Stewart also led the Grizzlies to three-straight league titles and was awarded the Defensive Player of the Year for her high school team. Additionally, Stewart played two years for the California state ODP team.
Blackwell is a defender, midfielder and a four-year varsity starter for Jenks High School Lady Trojans in Jenks, Okla. Named to the Oklahoma All-State team in 2011, Blackwell won the 6A state championship in her freshman year and she helped take her high school team to the quarter finals the following two years. She has played for Tulsa Soccer Club since she was 11 and has won two state championships and numerous tournaments as the team captain. She is currently playing with TSC/Hurricane in the Elite Clubs National League. An officer in Student Council and active member of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Jenks has been named to the academic honor roll all four years of high school with a 3.9 GPA .She plans on majoring in communications and chose FGCU because of the amazing women’s soccer program and the location.
A native of Rochester, N.Y., Brown was a five-year varsity player, four-year starter and three-time captain for Greece Athena High School. Brown led the team in net, reaching the finals multiple times. She received one All-County honorable mention, one second team selection and a pair of first team honors over the course of her high school career. Brown was also named third and fifth team All-State in her junior and senior year, respectively, and received the Coach's Award for being a good leader on and off the field. Brown played for Empire United over the majority of her club career, leading her team to a State Cup title in 2009. She also started on the varsity basketball team, and helped her team to the State finals three out of the four years. Brown is a member of the National Honor Society and will graduate with a 4.3 GPA. She chose FGCU because they provide her major of physical therapy and because she wanted to compete at a high level with talented players and an impressive program.
Cardenas most recently was a starting center back for coach Marcelo Carrera at IMG Academies. Cardenas helped the team to a first place finish in the CDL. She also served as team captain for two seasons with FC Sarasota. As a student, Cardenas is a member of the National Honor Society, a junior leadership manatee alumni, on the Dean’s list during her senior year and was dual enrollment at the State College of Florida. Cardenas intends to major in Health Sciences at FGCU.
Kasun comes to FGCU from Lancaster, Pa., where she starred for Hempfield High School as a four-year starter at center mid. She led the team to the Pennsylvania State Championship game in her freshman year and made the state quarterfinals in her sophomore and junior years, compiling a 55-14-5 over her first three years. She has scored 20 goals (including six game winners in one-goal matches) and registered 20 assists from her center mid position. She hopes to break the school record of 28 career assists this spring in her senior year. Kasun played her youth soccer with six-time Maryland State Champion Baltimore Bays, scoring goals in each of the past two Region 1 championships. Her strengths as a player are her technical ability, vision and highly competitive spirit. She chose FGCU over Hofstra, American University, Boston University and Pitt.
Parker has attended Clearwater Central Catholic High School for the past four years. As a freshman and sophomore she was an All-Pinellas County honorable mention, and was named first team All-Pinellas County as a junior. As a senior she was selected as team captain and led her team to the regional finals. Leading her team in goals, Parker is ranked in the top 50 nationally for goals and assists, also good for top 10 in the state. Parker plays for Clearwater Chargers’ coaches Garth Pollonais and Ljubomir Korda. Parker chose FGCU over Florida State and Miami because she loved the campus, coaches and wanted to be a part of a great and growing women’s soccer team.
A Florida high school first team All-State selection as a junior, Rhoney was a co-captain of her Newsome High School (Lithia, Fla.) team that was ranked No. 2 in the nation by ESPN Rise with a 25-0 record before losing in the state championship game to St. Thomas Aquinas in 2011. During her high school career, Rhoney helped Newsome win four district titles, one regional title and was a regional finalist three consecutive years. In addition to her captaincy, she is the points leader for both her high school and travel (Brandon Flames, under Coach Randy Belli) teams. Honored by the Tampa Tribune as All-County first team in 2011, Rhoney was also selected by the coaches for All-Hillsborough County-Western Division first team. She was selected All-County honorable mention as a sophomore and received the Wendy’s Heisman Award for Newsome High School for 2011-2012. Academically, Rhoney is ranked eighth in her graduating class with a 4.0 GPA. With plans to study physical therapy, Rhoney enters the FGCU’s honors program as a recipient of the FGCU President’s Gold Scholarship. Her other academic accomplishments include National Honor Society, Spanish National Honor Society and Senior Council.
Richards comes to FGCU from Orland Park, Ill. She plays center midfield for Chicago Christian High School. She has started varsity her first three years and has led her team to their first two Regional Championships in school history. She has scored 54 goals and has 31 assists in her first three varsity seasons and has been voted MVP and Offensive MVP. Richards has been selected first team All-Area, in addition to a two-time IHSSCA All-Sectional selection and a two time All-Conference selection. She was a three-time member of the Illinois State ODP Team and was a starter on the Chicago Magic team that won the US Club Soccer National Championship in 2009. She currently plays club soccer for the Windy City Pride out of Lemont, Ill., where she plays on the defensive backline.
A local product from Naples, Fla., Rogers is a talented athlete who lettered in soccer, football, track and tennis at Gulf Coast High School. Over her high school career she accumulated over 80 goals and nearly 50 assists, while leading the team in goals for three seasons and assists all four years. Rogers has earned awards and honors as captain, MVP, Golden Boot, Key Returning Player, The Player to Watch, One of the Regions Best Players and The Most Recruited Women’s Soccer Player in Southwest Florida. Rogers has also earned the titles of All-Area, All-County, All-Conference and has been called the “the area’s most talented soccer prospect” by the Director of the National Super Y. On the pitch, Rogers has played for various Club Teams, including the Chicago Fire U19, Island Coast Soccer Alliance U18 and Cagliari Strike Force U19. Playing U18 & 19 Club soccer since the age of 15, Rogers has led her Club teams in goals and assists over the last six years. A nominee for the prestigious Winged Foot Award, Rogers strengths as a player are her speed, accuracy and team spirit. Rogers chose FGCU over 11 offers due to the coaching style of coach Blankenship and his staff and the positive team environment.
FGCU women’s soccer team ended the 2011 campaign with a program-best 14-5-2 overall record and an impressive 7-1-1 A-Sun mark, also claiming back-to-back A-Sun regular season titles and earning their first-ever A-Sun tournament championship. FGCU won the championship off a dramatic goal in double-overtime sending the Eagles into the NCAA Championship for the first time in program history. Setting a new school record for shutouts with 12 on the season, the Green and Blue also landed five All-Conference first team selections and a pair of second team and All-Freshmen picks. Senior defender KC Correllus (Merritt Island, Fla./Satellite HS/Florida State) was named to the NSCAA All-Southeast Region second team. Senior goalkeeper Stephanie Powers (Seffner, Fla./Armwood HS) also picked up the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award, while classmate forward Gina Petracco (Fort Myers, Fla./Bishop Verot HS) was named the 2011 A-Sun women's soccer Scholar-Athlete of the Year.