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Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Cassie Pecht, Danielle Duhl, Kara Wilson, Sammie Thomas, Kelly McCann
Blue Devils Add Five in Early Signing Period
Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Release: 02/16/2012
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DURHAM, N.C.-- Duke University Women’s Soccer Head Coach Robbie Church announced the addition of five commitments for the 2012 campaign on Thursday, which includes three of the top 37 ranked players in the nation by  The class has been tabbed the seventh best in the nation by

“We are extremely happy with the girls that are coming in to join our program in 2012,” commented Church.  “We think with the criteria we use to bring players in our program all five meet it to the fullest. They are outstanding young ladies, excellent students and very good soccer players. It is a different position for us this year as we don’t lose a lot of players.  A lot people know that going into our program.  They are going to come in and we are going to see some girls really challenge some of the returning players that we have. It is a really good group.”

Danielle Duhl of Los Angeles, Calif., Kelly McCann of Palos Verdes Estates, Calif., Cassie Pecht of Mechanicsburg, Pa., Samantha Thomas of Lonetree, Colo., and Kara Wilson of Potomac, Md., will all attend Duke University in the fall and play soccer.

“We lost some really good student-athletes from our graduating class - Molly Lester, Molly Mack, Emily Nahas and Chelsea Canepa. They have done a great job for us the past four years, but I think we really replace them with some really talented soccer players and individuals. They will continue to keep us in going in the same direction that we have been doing both on and off the field.”

A player-by-player listing is below:

Danielle Duhl
5-8  •  Midfield  •  Los Angeles, Calif. (Harvard-Westlake School)

High School/Club: 

A four-year letterwinner ... a “Player to Watch” by TopDrawerSoccer ... two-time First Team All-League as a sophomore and junior ... selected  First Team All-Area as a junior ... named Mission League Most Valuable Offensive Player her junior year ... as a junior, posted 14 goals and four assists ... led her team to the second round of the Division I Playoffs finishing with a 14-3-3 overall record ... selected First Team ALL-CIF as a sophomore ... notched 11 goals and eight assists her sophomore year, helping her squad become the CIF Division II Champions and the Mission League Champions ... led Harvard-Westlake to a 22-2-3 mark ... helped her team to the Division II Region Semifinals ... Third Team All-CIF as a freshman ... tallied five goals and three assists as a freshman ... Division II Regional Champions  and CIF Division II Finalists in 2009 ... led her team to a 19-5-3 overall record ... played for the Real So Cal club soccer team which was ranked No. 8 in the 2011 ECNL ... named to ECNL Player Combine of 2011 ... led the Real So Cal to the 2011 Surf Cup Champions and the 2011 and 2009 National Cup Quarterfinals ... helped Real So Cal team to nine other titles from 2003-08 ... lettered in track & field in the high jump and was a CIF Finalist.


Full name is Danielle Lauren Duhl ... born November 23, 1993 in Los Angeles, Calif. ... daughter of Roger and Diane Duhl... has one sister, Alexandra (20) ... a three-year honor roll student ...  was a member of Peer Support as a sophomore.

Church on Duhl:
“Danielle is one of those players who can play a number of positions. She plays as a wide player, which gives good versatility. You have to play different formations. If we play a 4-4-2, Danielle can go outside and play both on either the right side and left side, which we really like. If we play  a 4-3-3, we can push her up a little bit higher and play her as a wide winger. Danielle is good with the ball at her feet, is a creative player, can beat players off the dribble and is able to get great quality serves. She’s able to finish around the box, too, so you will see Danielle really make an impact on our program.”

Kelly McCann
5-6  •  Defender  •  Palos Verdes Estates, Calif. (Palos Verdes H.S.)

High School/Club: 

Four-year letterwinner at Palos Verdes High School ... ranked No. 33 in the class of 2012 by TopDrawerSoccer ... team captain as senior ... did not play her senior and sophomore year due to injuries ... notched two goals and two assists during her junior year ...  2011 and 2010 Bay League Champions ... advanced to the CIF Semifinals in 2011 ... tallied four assists as the only freshman on the varsity squad ... selected to the 2010 U-15 National Team ... four year member of the Region IV ODP and the Cal South ODP ... Region IV ODP Champions in 2009 and 2011, while earning All-Tournament team honors in 2011 ... has played for the four-time Blues Cup Champions, the So Cal Blues since 2008 ... Surf Cup and Harvest Cup Champions in 2009 ... Far West Regional Finalists in 2009 ... 2010 Finalists at the USYSA National League and Far West Regional League ... 2011 USA Schwan Cup finalist ... two-time letterwinner in lacrosse as a freshman and sophomore ... named Watts Tournament MVP in lacrosse.

Full name is Kelly Alexandra McCann ... born January 18, 1995 in Torrance, Calif. ... daughter of David and Andrea McCann ... has one sister, Erin (13), and two brothers, David (14) and Kyle (10) ... her cousin, Bobby Carey, graduated from Duke in 2007 ... her aunt, Kathy Carey was a member of the 1979 Notre Dame national championship fencing team ... member of the National Honor Society, California Scholarship Federation Gold Sealbearer and Golden State Seal Merit ... held at least a 4.5 grade-point average in high school.

Church on McCann:
“Kelly McCann unfortunately had a number of injuries the last couple of years, but she is coming in our program pretty healthy. She is a player that can play a couple of positions. She can play at center back, which has been an area that we haven’t had a lot of depth in the last couple of years.  Kelly can also play in the midfield. She can play as a holding midfielder at times too and is very, very good at connecting passes. How we like to play, that is very important to players that we bring in. Kelly also has great range on her ball -- she can serve longer balls and shorter balls. She is good in the air, is very intelligent, reads pressure well and gives good passing angles. You can get good distance from her. She is a thinking person and will play really well in our thinking system of play.  So we are excited to have Kelly. We think Kelly can come in and have an impact on our program really early here.”

Cassie Pecht
5-3  •  Midfielder •  Mechanicsburg, Pa. (Cumberland Valley H.S.)

High School/Club:
Four-year letterwinner at Cumberland Valley High School ... ranked No. 10 in the class of 2012 by TopDrawerSoccer ... 2011 NSCAA Youth All America ... earned 2011 USYS National Championship Best 11 accolades ... named 2010 Pennsylvania State Gatorade Player of the Year ... member of the 2010 U-17 Women’s National Team and the 2011 U-18 U.S. Women’s National Team ... District All-Star as a freshman, sophomore and junior ... tallied five goals and six assists as a junior playing only six games due to injury ... returned for the playoffs to lead Cumberland Valley to the Pennsylvania State Championship ... selected Patriot-News Big 11 as a freshman and sophomore ... notched 19 goals and 15 assists during her sophomore year, while leading her team to the Pennsylvania State final game ... recorded 16 goals and 17 assists as a freshman ... a three-time 3 v. 3 Soccer National Champion (2004-06) ... traveled to Florida, Russia, Costa Rica and Ireland with the ODP Region I Team ... competed with the Region I team and the Eastern Pennsylvania State Team since 2006 ... played with the FC Pennsylvania Strikers club team winning the National League in 2011 ... Region I Champion in 2007 and 2011 ... Eastern Pennsylvania State Cup Champion in 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011 ... lettered one year in cross country, while finishing 31st in the state championship.

Full name is Cassandra Joy Pecht ... born on October 2, 1993 in Harrisburg, Pa. ... daughter of Wayne and Carrie Pecht... has one brother, Steven (20), and one sister, Sophia (14) ... her brother is a junior at University of Michigan ... member of the National Honor Society, Foreign Language National Honor Society and Key Club ... honor roll student owning a 4.0 grade-point average.

Church on Pecht:
“Cassie is one of the top players in the country. We are so excited to have Cassie join our program. She is going to be an offensive, attacking midfielder with Duke. She loves to run at players and that is exactly what a coaching staff likes. Cassie likes to pick balls up and likes to beat players off the dribble. She can strike the ball with both her right and left foot.  She is good on set plays, can hit balls from distance, can score from a distance and she can play the through ball. Cassie plays with a talented group of forwards and she is a very creative player. I think our fans will really enjoy watching her. She is quick, accelerates and is a hard-working player. Defensively, she has gotten better over the last year. She competes hard when she is on the field. I think Cassie is really going to complement our group of midfielders that we have now. She is really going to fit in well and we look for great things for Cassie coming into our program.”

Samantha Thomas
5-7  •  Defender •  Lonetree, Colo. (IMG Pendleton H.S.)

High School/Club: 

Attended IMG Pendleton after her sophomore player playing for the IMG Academies club soccer team ... a “Player to Watch” by TopDrawerSoccer ... tallied three goals and 16 assists during the fall season of her senior year ... U-18 League Champions ... captained the U-17 Team as a junior ... won the 2011 IMG Coaches Award for Best Overall Player/Leadership ... recorded seven goals and 15 assists during her 2010-11 campaign ... lettered one-year at Valor Christian High School during her sophomore year notching six goals and seven assists ... led her team to second place in the 2009-10 Colorado 4A Girls Soccer State Tournament Championship ... played for the Colorado Nike Rush from 2007-08, winning the 2008 U-15 State Cup ... U-15, U-16 Colorado Elite Flight Champions ... U-14 Colorado Premier I Flight Champions.

Full name is Samantha Rae Thomas ... born on November 19, 1993 in Knoxville, Tenn. ... daughter of Julie Thomas ... made the Pendleton H.S. Headmaster List from 2010-12 and Valor Christian H.S., Summa Cum Laude from 2009-10 ... member of the honor roll/gifted and talented program from 2005-12 ... volunteered with the 2011 Christmas Ball Collection for the Boys Club.

Church on Thomas:

“Sammy Thomas comes from the IMG Soccer Academy in Florida. She’s played a number of positions, but we will probably play Sammy as an outside back. She’s a very technical player. Doing all the technical work that they do at IMG has really, really helped her. She is very good, is comfortable with the ball and is good going forward. Her services to the back post are very quality balls.  Sammy is quick, plays a lot of combination passes and can play both the ride side to the left side. She is very versatile in what side of the field she can play on and is good in the air. I think she is going to surprise a lot of people and make a major impact on our program.”

Kara Wilson
5-9  •  Midfielder •  Potomac, Md. (Sidwell Friends School)

High School/Club: 

Four-year letterwinner at Sidwell Friends School (SFS) ... tabbed the Washington, D.C., Gatorade Player of the Year as a junior and senior ... earned a ranking of No. 37 in TopDrawerSoccer Class of 2012 ... named to the Washington Post All-Met First Team as a senior and junior ... two-time recipient of the SFS Award (MVP) ... concluded her prep career with 45 goals and 27 assists ... guided her high school team to its first regular season league title in 18 years as a senior totaling 18 goals and nine assists ... injured in her final regular season game and could not compete in the tournament ... led her Sidwell Friends School team to a 13-1-1 record ... recording 15 goals and nine assists her junior year ... her team posted a 16-3-2 overall record her junior season ... traveled to Portugal with her Region I ODP squad in 2010 ... played with the club team McLean Strikers starting as a center midfielder ... the team were National Finalists in 2010 ... lettered four years in track and field ... ran a 5:09 in the 1600 meters and 2:18 in the 800 meters ... named Washington D.C. Runner of the Year in 2009 ... garnered All-Met Honorable Mention ... participated at Penn Relays for three years ... lettered in varsity basketball as a freshman.

Full name is Kara Marie Wilson ... born January 15, 1994 in Washington, D.C. ... daughter of Neal and Coleen Wilson ... has one brother, Kyle (19), and four sisters, Megan (15), Emily (13), Bryn (11) and Kelly (8) ... her mother, Coleen, was an All-America on the track & field team at Villanova (1983-87) ... her father, Neal, was on the Columbia track & field team (1984-88) ... her brother, Kyle, was on the rowing team at Michigan (2010-11) ... her grandfather, Patrick Gallagher, played basketball at Holy Cross (1960-64) ... her aunt, Megan, was on the volleyball team at University of Pennsylvania (1988-92) ... studied in China for a month in the summer of 2011 for Sidwell Grassroots China Course ... staff writer for Sidwell’s School Newspaper.

Church on Wilson:
“Kara Wilson is a talented midfielder. She is more of a defensive holding midfielder with a lot of offensive firepower. She has good size on her and is really, really good in possession. Kara connects passes -- both short and long passes. She changes the point of attack well and has good speed of play in midfield. She can defend, can attack and can be a physical player at times. Before Kara leaves Duke, she is going to make a really big impact on our program. We are excited to have Kara. She is a wonderful young lady and is a very good student.  We are just very excited to have her in our program.”

Coming off its first NCAA College Cup appearance since 1992, the Blue Devils will return all 11 starters to the mix in 2012.  Included in those starters are All-America selections Natasha Anasi and Kaitlyn Kerr along with All-Region honorees Tara Campbell and Kelly Cobb.  Other starters returning are All-ACC selection Laura Weinberg, NCAA College Cup All-Tournament honorees Mollie Pathman and Nicole Lipp, Maddy Haller, Erin Koballa, Gilda Doria and Libby Jandl

“We have started back with spring practice, but we are looking forward to August when everybody comes in,” commented Church.  “We are going to have a large roster in 2012, which means we are going to have combativeness every single day in practice. Those kids know that we have a number of players returning and that we have a good class coming in.  It is going to help us during the summer months when they are on their own because there is going to be a lot of competition on the field.”

Other Blue Devils returning in 2012 include All-ACC Tournament team selection Kim DeCesare, Callie Simpkins, Alex Straton, Audrey Gibson, Katie Trees, Avery Rape, Katy Colas, Erin O’Connor, Tabria Williford, Anastasia Hunt, Ali Kershner and Meghan Thomas.  Duke registered a school-record 22 victories in 2011 and return 92.0 percent of its scoring for 2012.  The Blue Devils return their entire defensive unit that accumulated a school-record 16 shutouts on the season. 

“Depth has been the thing that has helped us the last couple of years,” said Church.  “When we change players on the field, there is no drop in quality of players on the pitch. Next year is going to be at the highest level it has ever been here at Duke. It’s going to present its challenges in finding enough minutes for everybody, but it is really going to make our trainings very competitive. We are looking forward to it. We will be able to play a lot of people and be fresher on the weekends. We are looking forward to a big 2012.”

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