San Jose, Calif.----Three players with Olympic Development Program experience, one of the top-20 high school seniors in Texas and a promising goalkeeper are among seven high school seniors to sign a National Letter-of-Intent to join the 2011 San Jose State University women's soccer team. Head coach Jeff Leightman made the announcement.
Jackie "JoJo" Andersen (Plano, Texas/Plano HS), Alexandria Donaldson (Shingle Springs, Calif./Ponderosa HS), Kacey Gricius (San Jose, Calif./Branham HS), Amanda Morgan (Morgan Hill, Calif./Live Oak HS), Emily Pryor (Torrance, Calif./Torrance HS), Catherine Ruder (Colorado Springs, Colo./Coronado HS) and Gabriella Stange (Union City, Calif./James Logan HS) are joining the Western Athletic Conference's two-time defending regular-season champion Spartans this fall as freshmen.
"We want to bring in freshmen that can compete right away," says head coach Jeff Leightman who is entering his fourth season at San Jose State. "We are very excited about our incoming class. I think this is a very good class overall.
"We addressed a lot of different needs. We get more athletic, and a little bit tougher. A lot of players are very versatile so they can make us a better team than we were last year."
Jackie "JoJo" Andersen, Midfielder, Plano High, Plano, Texas
TopDrawerSoccer.com rates Andersen as the No. 17 (four-star recruit) player in the Texas Region.
At Plano High (Coach Diane Davey), Andersen was an honorable mention all-league player as a sophomore and was named to the Class 4A Region I District 8 freshman team in 2008.
Andersen played her club soccer for D'Feeters '93 (Coach David Pfeil) and participated in the Texas Olympic Development Program since 2007.
"'JoJo' is a really hard-nosed player," says Leightman. "She gives us a lot of bite, a lot of mentality, and she can sit in the center midfield, go through people and win balls. She's very good about keeping the ball, being very simple in possession and taking care of the ball."
Alexandria Donaldson, Defender, Ponderosa High, Shingle Springs, Calif.
In her first three varsity seasons, Alex played on Ponderosa High (Coach Greg Spangler) teams that posted a 33-11-11 win-loss record.
Donaldson played club soccer for the San Juan Spirits U-15 team and has District-VI Olympic Development Program experience.
"Alex was on a national championship (club) team that was very good and talented," states Leightman. "She will make an impact right away in our program. She will certainly help, whether it's in the center back, or in a different role. She has a lot of potential to be rock solid for years to come."
Kacey Gricius, Defender, Branham High, San Jose, Calif.
Kacey is a two-time All-Central Coast Section choice by the San Jose Mercury News. And a two-time first-team All-Blossom Valley Athletic League honoree. Gricius was the BVAL Freshman of the Year in 2008 and Sophomore of the Year in 2009. The two-sport letterwinner was the league's Most Valuable Player in field hockey as a junior and was named the BVAL's top sophomore and top senior in 2009 and 2011, respectively.
Gricius played club soccer for De Anza Blue Force '92 Blue (Coach Shawn Medved) and was a teammate of fellow 2011 San Jose State signee Amanda Morgan.
"Kacey is a very hard-nosed defender," says Leightman. "She probably has one of the strongest mentalities of anybody on our team next year. She is fearless. She'll win balls in the air. She is a solid player that can play both center back and outside back."
Amanda Morgan, Midfielder, Live Oak High, Morgan Hill, Calif,
Morgan is a 2011 All-Central Coast Section (CCS) first-team selection and the Most Valuable Player of the Mount Hamilton Division of the Blossom Valley League. The midfielder from Live Oak High in Morgan Hill, Calif. (Coach Tony Vasquez), was credited with 15 goals and 27 assists in her last three varsity seasons. The three-time honoree was a second-team choice as a junior and an honorable mention pick her sophomore season.
Morgan played club soccer for the Orchard Valley Sting and the De Anza Force '92G Blue (Coach Shawn Medved). She and Kacey Gricius are two De Anza Force '92G Blue signees with San Jose State.
"Amanda is very athletic and very versatile," says Leightman. "She is tough as nails and will go through you to get to the ball. She is very talented on the ball and a very calm, cool, collective force in the back. We are definitely very excited about what she brings to the field."
Emily Pryor, Goalkeeper, Torrance High, Torrance, Calif.
Pryor recorded 13 shutouts in three varsity seasons at Torrance (Calif.) High (Coaches Jim Millinder and Anthony Bantula). As a senior, she was a second-team All-C.I.F. Division IV choice who anchored a defense that produced seven shutouts and a Pioneer League championship for the first time in 17 seasons. The Daily Breeze named Pryor to its 2010 all-area team.
Pryor played her club soccer with the South Bay Force (Coach Federico Velez).
"Emily is a really athletic keeper," states Leightman. "She brings a sense of confidence and she's going to keep getting better. I think she has all the tools to be a very good Division I keeper, and it's up to us to refine some of those tools."
Catherine Ruder, Midfielder, Coronado High, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Catherine is a senior at Coronado High in Colorado Springs, Colo. (Coach Jenn Ury). As a junior, she scored a goal in 11 of 16 games and led her team in scoring with 18 goals. Five times, she scored two or more goals and had one four-goal bonanza. Ruder is a two-time all-league pick and a 2010 second-team all-area selection by the Colorado Springs Gazette. The two-sport letterwinner also was a member of her school's 2010 girls' track and field team.
Ruder has Region IV Olympic Development Program experience and played club soccer for the Pride Panthers '93 (Coach Sian Hudson).
"Kat (Catherine) instantly became my favorite player at the Texas Shootout this summer," says Leightman. "She was fantastic and I could not believe she was not committed yet. She is very smart, tactically aware, understands her role, and can play in a lot of different roles. She is very good on the ball, athletic, and times her tackles well."
Gabrielle Stange, Forward, James Logan High, Fremont, Calif.
A three-time all-league player at James Logan High in Fremont, Calif. (Coach Tony Villasenor), Gabrielle scored 16 goals and was credited with 11 assists in her last three varsity seasons. Stange served as team captain and was named the team's Best All-Around Player her senior season. The three-sport letterwinner was a two-time all-league 800 meter runner on the girls' track and field team and a three-time Most Valuable Runner of the girls' cross country team.
Stange played club soccer for the Pleasanton Rage Premier (Coach Paul Sapsford) and was a first-team All-Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) player in 2010. Her older sister, Alex Stange, is a starting first baseman on the San Jose State softball team.
"Gabe is very athletic and very fast," adds Leightman. "She has a very good attacking mindset where she is going to run-up players and be very dynamic. She has an explosive change of pace and works like crazy. Gabe is a tireless worker that can help us up top as a forward in the dynamic style we play."