New Faces. New Hope.
Lady Monarch’s Soccer Sign 10 New Student-Athletes for 2013 SeasonLast season didn’t necessarily begin or end well for the Lady Monarchs. They were at a lowly 4-12 overall, so head coach Joe Pereira had his work cut out for him during the off-season. His team had trouble winning and on top of that he was losing six seniors to graduation, two of which were his only goalkeepers. He answered by signing 10 new student-athletes to National Letters of Intent for the 2013 fall season, which begins in August. “We’ve been trying to change the standards and the mentality of the program. Having half of the roster new is not necessarily a bad thing,” said Pereira.
“It’s a very deep group. It’s a very athletic group. It’s a very versatile group,” said Pereira of the 10 new signees.
The group consists of forward Carly Goldsborough, midfielder Grace Haverly, forward Madison Hogan, midfielder/defender Rachel Johnson, goalkeeper Erin Kinz, goalkeeper Meredith Lenox, forward Melanie Oaks, forward/defender Thyla Peterson, defender Jackie Stroud and forward Morgan Vezina. “It’s a very talented group and it’s going to press a lot of positions. We’re going to be young and we’re going to compete,” said Pereira.The starting goalkeeper position is wide open for Kinz and Lenox to compete for come August, “The two new goalkeepers will compete for the job to see who gets that position so that’s immediately a massive part of the puzzle,” said Pereira. Kinz was a three-year member of the Olympic Developmental Program team in New York and Lenox was a four-year letter winner at Wakefield High School in North Carolina. It should be a heated competition come August to say the least.Along with goalkeeper, the Lady Monarchs look to fill some holes in their defense with Stroud and Johnson. Stroud, of Millbrook High School in North Carolina, was Player of the Year and also earned All-Conference and All-Region honors in 2012. In 2011, she attended school in Georgia and was Defender of the Year and first-team All-Georgia selection. Stroud was also a three-year participant in the ODP team in Georgia. “She’s a very central player with a good size, a good frame, moves well, and good on the ball so we’re hoping she’s going to immediately be giving us a lift,” said Pereira.Johnson, of Lenape High School in New Jersey, was an All-County, All-South Jersey, All-Conference and All-State selection in both her junior and senior seasons. She was also named the South Jersey Defender of the Year, Courier Post Player of the Year and was a regional All-American as a senior. Like Stroud, Johnson was also a part of the ODP team in New Jersey. “She possesses a lot of that grit and hardness that we are hoping to be able to tap into,” said Pereira.This will be the Lady Monarchs first season in the Conference USA, competing against teams such as East Carolina University, Louisiana Tech University and Florida International University to name a few. “We’re excited about the change and we’re embracing the change. We look at this as nothing but a great opportunity to start fresh,” said Pereira.The Lady Monarchs have already begun their spring schedule, but the new acquisitions won’t arrive until August. “We’ve been at it pretty hard, so we’re going to use the spring dates we have to really test and see how much we’ve grown and developed as a group. I’m looking forward to see how we stack up and measure. It’ll be a very good test,” said Pereira. They have five games left, two of which will be played at the ODU Soccer Stadium, against Richmond, former Colonial Athletic Association rival William and Mary, Navy, Loyola and then they finish up the spring schedule against Longwood on April 20. By: Brian Bowden Staff Writer