Zags Women welcome nine new recruits

zagslogoSPOKANE, WA — (school release) Gonzaga women’s soccer head coach Amy Edwards and her staff will welcome nine new student-athletes in 2016.

“The versatility and depth of this class is extremely exciting,” Edwards said. “Their character and `team first’ mentality will meld well with the direction of our program. We are especially looking forward to their energy and passion coming into the new fall season.”

Alyssa Andrade
5-3 * Defender * Nobleton, ON * Bradford Eagles * St. Jean de Brebeuf Catholic Secondary School
Andrade joins Gonzaga after making impacts on her school and club teams in Canada. She was a five-year team captain of the Bradford Eagles club team that was the 2015 Provincial and National Champion. Bradford posted an undefeated record last season. Andrade was a member of the Ontario Youth Soccer League U17 Girls East-Side Champion, which conceded the fewest goals in the league.

“I chose Gonzaga because it is a great school that meets all my academic and athletic needs,” Andrade said. “I can easily see myself there for the next four years of my life.”

Andrade played two seasons for the St. Jean de Brebeuf Catholic Secondary School soccer team. She was a four-year member of the Blackbears’ volleyball team. She boasts a 3.8 GPA and has been named to the school’s honor roll all four years.

“Coming off a National Championship, Alyssa is playing with a tremendous amount of confidence,” Edwards said. “She will bring a strong defensive mentality, as well as assist our attack with her acute passing ability.”

Tia Beck
5-6 * Midfielder * Woodinville, WA * Crossfire ECNL * Eastside Catholic High School

Beck comes to Gonzaga after shining as an all-around athlete at Eastside Catholic High School. Along with soccer, she played basketball, softball, tennis, and ran track for the Crusaders. The soccer team captain for the past two seasons, she was named an All-State midfielder in 2015. She’s was an All-Metro selection all four years at ECHS.

Beck set the school record for assists in a season (16) and assists in a career (22). She also set the school’s mark for most goals in a game (3), goals in a career (26), and points in a career (74). She has been named the team MVP in soccer, basketball and softball. She also received the coaches’ award in track.

“I will be receiving a great education that will challenge me, as well as being able to compete with some of the best teams in the country,” Beck said. “I’ll have the opportunity to strengthen my faith as well. I am close enough to home that my parents can come watch some games, but far enough away that I am able to grow in my independence. The coaching staff is so incredible and Gonzaga will set me on the right path to reach all the goals I strive to achieve.”

Beck has been the co-captain for the Crossfire ECNL since 2010. While on the club team, she has been a member of teams that were runner-up in 2015 ECNL National Playoffs, Manchester United Cup Champions in 2012, and semifinalists in the Gothia Cup played in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Beck has been a standout in the classroom as well with a 3.8 GPA. She is a member of the National Honors Society, a student body ambassador, an Options Special Education Peer Tutor and a Special Olympics soccer coach through EC.

“We are looking forward to adding Tia’s vision and clever passing abilities to our midfield,” Edwards said. “She is a free kick artist and has the capability and confidence to score from long range in the run of play.”

Maddie Cooley
5-3 * Midfielder * Mill Creek, WA * Northwest Nationals * Henry M. Jackson High School

In 2016, Cooley will be a freshman for the Zags. She scored 35 goals in her career at Henry M. Jackson High School, while assisting on 48 goals during her four years. She helped guide the Timberwolves to the state title game in 2014. The two-year captain was named honorable mention All-State twice, first team All-Area three times, and first team All-WESCO all four seasons at HJHS.

Cooley is also a member of the Northwest Nationals club team, which are six-time league champions, two-time state champions, and the Region IV runner-up. She was the team’s captain and MVP in 2014. Cooley is a four-year Washington EPD member.

“I chose Gonzaga because of the balance between the athletic quality, academic proficiency, and my sheer love for the school created a perfect fit,” Cooley said.

In the classroom, Cooley has a 3.98 GPA and has been on the principal’s Honor Roll at the gold level all four years of high school. She received the AP Scholar Award and WESCO Academic Achievement Award.

“Don’t let Maddie’s size fool you as she is a fierce competitor who will bring creativity to our attacking midfield,” Edwards said. “Her tireless consistency and passion inspires her teammates to strive for 90 minutes.”

Madeline Gotta
5-5 * Defender * San Diego, CA * San Diego Surf Soccer Club * Canyon Crest Academy

Gotta comes from an athletically-rich family. She has three brothers that are standout baseball players, including one who was an All-American in college and now in the Tampa Bay Rays organization.

Gotta is currently in the middle of her high school season, but was awarded first-team all-league following her sophomore and junior seasons. She was second-team All-League in her freshman year. She was named the Canyon Crest team MVP after her freshman, sophomore, and junior years.

“I chose Gonzaga because I just fell in love with the Gonzaga community,” Gotta said.

Gotta has been a key member of the San Diego Surf Soccer Club defense. She helped lead them to a 17-4-1 record last season. Gotta had six assists last season. In 2014, her team was ECNL national bronze medalists. San Diego Surf were College Cup Champions, ECNL U-15 Conference Champions and Las Vegas Players Showcase Tournament Champions in 2013.

The daughter of Brian and Kristine Gotta is interested in becoming a sports psychologist. She has a perfect 4.0 GPA and was named to the Union Tribune All-Academic Team. She was tabbed a Varsity Scholar-Athlete all three years at Canyon Crest.

“Adding Maddy’s versatility across the back line will most definitely impact our defensive presence,” Edwards said. “Furthermore, her composure and quality service will advance our attack out of the back.”

Samantha Heilman
5-10 * Forward * Richland, WA * Three Rivers Soccer Club * Richland High School

Heilman, a standout at Richland High School, joins the Bulldogs as a freshman next season. She was named second team all-state by the Washington State Soccer Coaches’ Association in 2014 and 2015. Heilman was the MCC and Tri-City Herald All-Area Player of the Year in 2014. She was tabbed first team All-MCC in 2015. Heilman was named All-Area by the Tri-Cities Herald and All-MCC following her freshman and sophomore seasons.

The Bombers’ team captain was selected as the Richland High School Offensive MVP the past three seasons. RHS captured the 4A district and regional titles in 2014. In her freshman season, Heilman and Richland won the district title.

“Gonzaga is the perfect size and distance from home for me and I love the friendly, helpful atmosphere it gives me,” Heilman said. “I have never heard of a person who was unhappy with their experience there. The soccer program is what initially made me fall in love with the school and I can’t wait to be a part of the Zag family.”

Heilman was also the captain of the US Club Regional Champion, Three Rivers Soccer Club. The daughter of Jeff and Sandy Heilman has a perfect 4.0 GPA. She is on the Honor Roll and received the WIAA Outstanding Student Athlete Award. Heilman was also recognized as a Richland High Elite Fleet of Excellence award winner and a KHQ Academic All Star.

“Sam’s pace and physicality will definitely threaten our opponents’ defense as she is explosive and experienced in scoring goals,” Edwards said. “Moreover, she is imposing in the air which will pose another threat for our competitors.”

Taylor Kernion
5-5 * Forward/Midfielder * Vancouver, WA * FC Portland * Skyview High School

Kernion joins Gonzaga after being named All-Region and All-State in 2015. She scored 21 goals and recorded seven assists this past season. She helped Skyview High School with 41 total goals during her senior season, and she was tabbed the GHSL Player of the Year for her efforts. Kernion was an All-League selection following her sophomore, junior and senior seasons.

As team captain, Kernion guided Skyview to a 9-2-1 record in 2015. She amassed 45 goals and 33 assists over her four-year stint at SHS. She’s been on the Honor Roll the past four years and has a 3.6 GPA.

“Gonzaga has great academics,” Kernion said. “I loved the atmosphere of the school, and knew I could grow as a person and player from the coaches and team.”

Kernion’s club team, FC Portland, qualified for the 2014-15 ECNL Playoffs. She was team’s leading scorer with 12 of their 30 goals. She also had a team-high six assists.

“Taylor is a quiet, yet versatile warrior who conveys confidence on the ball and confidence in the tackle,” Edwards said. “Taylor plays box to box and is notably dangerous in the final third.”

Marissa Kneisel
5-6 * Forward * Santa Clarita, CA * Santa Clarita Valley SC * Canyon High School * College of the Canyons

Kneisel is transferring to Gonzaga after excelling at the College of the Canyons. She finished the 2015 season with 31 goals, 12 assists and 74 points to lead COC in all categories, while starting all 21 games for the Cougars. Included in those totals were 11 game-winning scores and a trio of hat-trick performances.

“I chose Gonzaga because it has a great reputation,” Kneisel said. “It is has a great campus and all-around atmosphere.”

Kneisel was named the Western State Conference Player of the Year after leading the league in goals, points, total shots (111) and shots on goal (67). In 2015, Kneisel essentially rewrote the COC women’s soccer program’s record book, by establishing a new single season mark for goals scored and becoming the college’s all-time career leader with 51 career goals and 129 points in her two years as a Cougar.

Those numbers helped Canyons (14-2-5, 11-0-3) clinch its fifth straight WSC, South Championship, all coming under head coach Justin Lundin.

Kneisel scored 11 goals and recorded 11 assists during her senior season at Canyon High School. The daughter of John and Donna Kneisel would like to major in journalism or business at GU.

“Mari’s experience and goal scoring at the college level brings a new capacity to our attack,” Edwards said. “She is a threat with either foot and plays comfortably with her back to goal, as well as breaking in behind defenses.”

Sophia Viviano
5-9 * Forward * Lake Forest, WA * FC Alliance * Shorecrest High School

Viviano will be a freshman for the Zags in 2016. After being named first team All-State in 2014, she was tabbed second team this past season. She tallied 66 goals and 20 assists over her four years at Shorecrest High School. She helped SHS qualify for the state tournament four straight years. Viviano was selected first team All-WESCO 3A/2A South following her junior and senior seasons.

“I chose Gonzaga because I loved the campus and location,” Viviano said. “I also loved the team and coaches who were friendly and inclusive.”

Viviano was tabbed All-Area by the Seattle Times in 2014 and 2015. The daughter of James and Heather Viviano was a key member of the FC Alliance club team. She was named to the USYS Washington Youth Soccer Championship Tournament Best 11 in 2015. She was on the Washington Youth Soccer EPD (ODP) Team. Viviano was also a USYS ODP Region IV Camp invitee.

A great all-around athlete, Viviano was a qualifier in three events at the 2014 WIAA 3A Track and Field State Championships. She placed fifth at the 2015 2A State Championships in the 100-meter hurdles, and helped Shorecrest grab the 2015 2A state title.

“Sophia is a risk-taker in the final third; combined with her creativity, she is a quality finisher,” Edwards said. “We look forward to adding her pace and goal scoring ability into our attack.”

Brooke Weedman
5-7 * Defender * Sammamish, WA * Crossfire ECNL * Eastside Catholic High School

Weedman joins Gonzaga after a standout career at Eastside Catholic. She was named First Team All-Metro League at ECHS. The team captain scored six goals and dished out three assists as a defender. She played two years under head coach Scott Brayton.

Weedman also stars in the defense for the Crossfire ECNL club team. They were an ECNL Championship Finalist in 2015, and played for the Northwest Championship and Manchester United Championship. Weedman won a pair of Washington State championships, and helped guide Crossfire to the Gothia Cup semifinals.

“I believe Gonzaga cares about their students and they want them to be successful,” Weedman said. “The professors will help prepare me for my future career. When I stepped on the campus, I knew it was going to be a good fit for me and this is where I wanted to spend my next four years.”

The daughter of Scott and Helene Weedman would like to major in business administration. She is a member of the National Honor Society and a student body ambassador at Eastside Catholic.

“Using her previous experience as a forward, Brooke has become an imposing defender,” Edwards said. “She is effective at reading her opponents and is powerful in the tackle. Additionally, she adds the composure on the ball to link with our attack.”

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