Robbie Church announced on Tuesday the addition of seven commitments for the 2013 campaign, which includes a member of the United States U-17 and U-20 National Teams and a standout on the U-17 Canadian National Team. The class is expected to be tabbed one of the top 10 nationally.DURHAM, N.C. – Duke University women’s soccer head coach
“We are very excited to bring these young ladies into our program,” Church commented. “They give us everything that we are looking for in our program and they are outstanding young ladies. All of them will do great things for Duke, both on the field, in the classroom and in the community. They are all very good students and soccer players. So we are excited to bring them in and join them with our returning players that we have next year. They are all very unique with what they bring to the table and to the soccer field, and we are excited. I think they can blend in easily with our returning players.”
Malinda Allen of Memphis, Tenn., Catherine Blair of Wrightsville Beach, N.C., Christina Gibbons of Raleigh, N.C., Toni Payne of Birmingham, Ala., Rebecca Quinn of Toronto, Canada, Lizzy Raben of Greenwood Village, Colo., and Krysia Sikora of Los Angeles, Calif. will all attend Duke University in the fall and play soccer.
“These signees can play a lot of different positions, said Church. “One thing we look at in recruiting is the versatility of the players. Can they play in the back, midfield, etc.? Depending on the formation that we play, will depend on where they will play. Maybe one game they are going to play in a certain position, maybe another game they are going to play in a different position. They give us a lot of flexibility. We also are in our developmental season, the spring time. We’ll look at a lot of different players this spring in different positions that they’ve played and see if we can discover some things in the spring time in a player that maybe is a midfielder, can she play an outside back? We have a lot of good players returning too, and now they’re getting the opportunity, especially our two goalkeepers, they’re both getting the opportunity to fill the void that leaves with graduation.”
A player-by-player listing is below:
5-11 • Defender • Memphis, Tenn. (Westminster Academy)
Regional Team Experience:
USYS Tennessee State ODP team member from 2007-11 ... USYS Region III team from 2009-11 ... traveled to Germany and Spain in 2010 and 2011 with the Region III team … member of the Region III Inter-regional team from 2009-11, while being named captain in 2011.
Ranked No. 65 in the TopDrawerSoccer.com top 150 ranking of the club soccer players ... listed No. 10 in the South Atlantic region rankings for TopDrawerSoccer.com ... invited to play with the ECNL PDP in March of 2013 … played for the Brentwood Premier ‘94 from the 9-11 grades and Concorde Fire ‘95 as a senior ... led her team to the USYS Tennessee State Championship in 2010, 2011 and 2012 ... USYS regional champion and national finalist in 2012, USYS regional finalist in 2011 and USYS regional semifinalist in 2010 ... her high school team did not offer soccer … captain of her high school basketball team from grades 10-12 ... set school records for most points scored in a game (62), highest scoring average (32.4) and most points in a career (1,617) ... her high school retired her No. 22 jersey she wore for basketball … led the city of Memphis in scoring as a senior with a 32.4 scoring average … MVP of her team from the 8-11 grades ... owned a career scoring average of 23.1 points a game … named the Commercial Appeal Basketball Player of the Week once as a senior … selected the Commercial Appeal Best of the Preps All-Metro team in Basketball as a sophomore and junior ... lettered in basketball from grades 8-12 … lettered in cross country as a freshman and sophomore ... MVP of her cross country team as a freshman and sophomore … earned Commercial Appeal Best of the Preps All-Metro team accolades in Cross Country in the eighth and ninth grades.
Full name is Malinda Cusick Allen ... born March 4, 1994 in Memphis, Tenn. ... daughter of Cannon and Jill Allen ... has one brother, Cannon, Jr. (20) and two sisters, Katharine (24) and Emily (22) ... her grandfather, A. Michael Cusick, Jr., ran track & field at Indiana from 1952-55 ... mother, Jill, played field hockey and basketball at DePauw from 1979-83 ... father, Cannon, Sr., rowed crew at Princeton in 1980 ... sister, Katharine, played lacrosse at Fort Lewis College from 2009-11 ... sister, Emily, is a senior on the Vermont lacrosse team ... brother, Cannon, Jr., is a sophomore on the soccer team at Wheaton College ... her uncle, Steve Cusick, is a 1981 graduate of Duke University Fuqua School of Business ... ninth grade valedictorian ... 10th and 11th grade salutatorian ... class president in ninth grade ... class vice president in 10th grade ... member of the Leadership Council as a senior ... active in the community … salutatorian of her senior class.
Church on Allen:
“Malinda will provide size for us and is really good in the air. It’s one of the things I think we need is a back player. Again, we look at primaries as a center back, but she can play some secondary positions, she can play a holding midfielder, she can go wide if we needed to, but her first look will be as a center back. Where a lot of people tap straight down the middle of the field, Malinda is very, very good in the air. She’s not only good defensively; she’s good offensively in the air too. She’s also a very good passer of the ball. Her short balls are very precise. She can keep great pace of the ball, but the one thing I also like is she has a great longer ball. When teams squeeze us a little bit, she’s able to put forwards in. We usually play from the back to the midfield to the forward, but she will allow us to play from the back to the forwards. If a team’s back line is too high, she will be able to put some of our speedy forwards in with one service. We look forward to Malinda joining us. She’s a fine young lady, great student too, and she’s going to have a wonderful opportunity to come in and make a great impact on the program.”
5-3 • Midfielder • Wrightsville Beach, N.C. (Saint Mary’s School - Raleigh, N.C.)
Regional Team Experience:
YSTS Region III ODP regional camp - ‘94 North Carolina team - from 2008-11 ... USYS Region III ODP Championships - ‘94 North Carolina team in 2010 ... USYS Region III ODP pool in 2009 ... played for the NCYSA ODP 1994 North Carolina state team from 2007-11.
A four-year letterwinner at Saint Mary’s School ... a three-time NCISAA All-Conference and All-Region selection ... NCISAA All-State honoree in 2011 and 2012 ... captain as a sophomore, junior and senior ... MVP in 2011 and 2012 ... a three-time Athlete of the Year honoree ... as a junior, tallied 14 goals and 25 assists ... notched seven game-winning goals ... started every match and did not miss a minute all season ... led her team to a NCISAA 3-A State semifinals ... captain of the CFSA ‘94 Wave White from 2004-09 ... received the CASL Hamilton Sportsmanship Award in 2010 ... co-captain of the CASL Elite Ladies in 2011-12 ... led her club team to the 2011 GSA adidas Invitational College Showcase champions, CASL Showcase Adizero Flight champions, NCYSA State Cup champions and Jefferson Cup Platinum Flight champions ... 2010 Disney Showcase Championship finalist ... 2009 Jefferson Cup Premier Flight champions.
Full name is Catherine Branch Blair ... born December 9, 1994 in Wilmington, N.C. ... daughter of Bill and Mary Blair ... has one brother, William (24), and two sisters, Cameron (28), and Elizabeth (26) ... her grandfather, William James Blair, Jr., played soccer at North Carolina from 1955-57 and was an All-America in 1957 ... her grandmother, Catherine Grier Stewart Faison is a 1950 graduate of Duke and her great aunt, Mary Stewart Huston was a 1955 graduate of Duke ... member of her high school honor roll each of her four years ... named to the National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society as a junior and senior ... received the Martha Sprouse Stoops Award for Humanities as a junior.
Church on Blair:
“Catherine Blair has been to our soccer camp for many years. She is a local product as she attends school at St. Mary’s in Raleigh and she’s from Wilmington, N. C. She’s just a great kid. There is no one that works harder than Catherine Blair. Catherine puts in 100 percent effort every time she is on the field. In training, in games, she works extremely hard. We have been looking at her to come in and be a midfielder. Again, at this point we aren’t sure if we are going to play three in the central midfield, two in the central midfield, but Catherine will come in and push us in practice. She will push players that are starters to really become better. She will have an opportunity to get on the field herself a lot next year with it too. She just brings us intangibles to the field. She’s just such a hard worker every time out there and she’s a very physical player. She’s good at the final ball and she can score goals from midfield. We look forward to Catherine joining our program.”
5-4 • Defender • Raleigh, N.C. (Cardinal Gibbons H.S.)
Regional Team Experience:
Played for the ‘94 North Carolina ODP team in 2008 and 2010 ... attended the ‘94 Region III ODP camp in Montevallo, Ala., in 2010.
Listed No. 34 in the South Atlantic region rankings for TopDrawerSoccer.com ... a two-time All-Conference, All-Region and All-State selection as a junior and sophomore ... MVP and captain of her high school team as a junior ... notched 10 goals and two assists her junior year ... tallied 19 goals and 11 assists as a sophomore ... played for the ‘94 CASL Chelsea Ladies club team for eight years ... 2012 U-17 ECNL National Champions and 2011 U-16 ECNL National Champions ... 2012 U-17 ECNL Southeast Conference champions, ECNL/id2 “The Chance” finalist and “The Chance National Camp” ... 2011 U-16 Region III Premier League East champions and U-16 N.C. State Cup champions ... 2010 U-15 Region III Premier League East champions and U-15 Disney Soccer Showcase champions ... 2009 U-14 Region III Premier League East champions, USYS Region III champions, USYSA National Finalists, U-15 CASL Shootout champions and U-15 Disney Soccer Showcase champions ... 2008 U-13 Super Y National Champions.
Full name is Christina Marie Gibbons ... born on December 30, 1994 in Cincinnati, Ohio ... daughter of Thomas and Elisabeth Gibbons ... has one sister, Sarah (21) ... her father, Thomas, played soccer at Clemson from 1979-81 ... her father, Thomas, is a Fuqua School of Business graduate in 1985 ... her cousin, Rachel Taylor, is currently enrolled at the Duke Divinity School with an expected graduation date of 2015, while her cousin, Michael Holesh attends Duke graduate school with a 2014 graduation date ... received the AP Scholar Honor Award as a junior, National Honor Society member as a junior and senior and a National Honor Society Marshall as a junior ... named the winner of the Scholastic Gold Key Art Award as a sophomore and senior.
Church on Gibbons:
“Christina Gibbons is coming out of the CASL program also like Catherine did. She is a local product out of Cardinal Gibbons high school. The high school has just done an outstanding job with her CASL team. She is playing on one of the top CASL teams that they’ve ever had. They have one a national championship and Christina Gibbons is the one that glues a national championship. She traditionally plays an outside back, but we can look at her in the midfield also. She is a tough one v. one defender. She is very good at attacking from the outside back which is very important. Something that we are really going to emphasize during the spring time is not only the defensive ability; we think that the players have lapped that the last four years, Maddie and Erin were fantastic defenders. Now we are also looking to add the attacking point of it too, and Christina gives that too. She’s just a really underrated player. We think she can come in and can make a major impact on the program. We are really excited to have her join our program.”
5-3 • Midfielder/Forward • Birmingham, Ala. (Oak Mountain HS)
National Team Experience:
Attended the U-20 U.S. National Team training camp in February of 2013 … member of the U.S. U-17 National team that won the 2012 CONCACAF U-17 Women’s Championship in Guatemala and qualified for the 2012 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup … traveled to Croatia, Slovenia and La Manga with the U-17 national team …. played with the U-15 U.S. National Team.
Regional Team Experience:
Member of the 95 ODP Regional III team and the 95 ODP Alabama State team … traveled with the ODP region team in 2010 on the Costa Rica tour … went to Germany and France on tours in 2011 with the region squad.
Ranked No. 10 in the TopDrawerSoccer.com top 150 ranking of the club soccer players ... listed No. 2 in the South Atlantic region rankings by TopDrawerSoccer.com ... NSCAA All-America as a junior and senior … two-time Birmingham News All-State first team selection … All-Metro Team as a junior … collected 37 goals and 25 assists her junior year at Oak Mountain H.S. … Birmingham News State & Metro Player of the Year … scored a season-high five goals on eight shots … led her squad to a 28-2 overall record and the state championship … as a sophomore, registered nine goals and six assists, while taking 18 shots … played club soccer for Busa 95 ECNL and Concorde Fire 95 ECNL … led Busa 95 Elite to the State Cup Championship and the Region III Premier League Championships 2008-10 … competed in the 2010 Disney Showcase and was a finalist, while winning the 2008 3v3 World Championship with the Atlanta Soccer Association … participated in the West Hamm United ID camp and the ECNL Disney Showcase All- Star team … lettered in track & field as well as cross country as a freshman and sophomore.
Full name is Antionette Oyedupe Payne ... born April 22, 1995 in Birmingham, Ala. ... daughter of Oyeleke and Mojemilat Payne … both parents were born in Nigeria … has one brother, Stephen (15), and one sister, Nicole (12) … member of the Minority Students Association her final two years at Oak Mountain H.S.
Church on Payne:
“Toni is one of the most athletic players in the class of 2013. She brings that athleticism that you have to have in this league. She is great on the dribble and one of the things that we love people who can beat players on the dribble. Toni is also very unselfish. She can slot players through, she can play in the midfield and also play as one of the three attacking players if we stay with a 4-3-3. Toni can play as a wide and central player. She is going to be another quality, attacking player that we will have. In the ACC, you cannot have enough of those types of players. Toni brings national team experience. She spent all last fall playing with the national team at the U-17 World Championship and has recently been at to a U-20 national team camp. She has a world of experience along with being a wonderful young lady and a very good student.”
5-9 • Midfielder • Toronto, Canada (Havergal College)
National Team Experience:
Member of the U-17 Canadian National team in 2011 and 2012 ... one of seven nominees for the Canadian U-17 Player of the Year in 2012 ... led Canada to a quarterfinalist finish at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Azerbaijan in September of 2012 ... silver medalist at the CONCACAF U-17 Women’s Championship in Guatemala in May of 2012 ... made her first appearance in the Canadian National youth program in 2010 at the game of 14.
Regional Team Experience:
Member of the Ontario Provincial Soccer team from 2008-11 ... Canadian National U-16 All-Star champions in 2010 and 2011 ... Canadian National U-14 All-Star champions in 2009 - scored five goals in five games.
Member of the Erin Mills Eagles Soccer Club U-15 and U-16 teams ... Canadian National U-16 Club Champions in 2011 ... Ontario Provincial champions in 2010 and 2011 ... member of the Scarborough Blues Basketball Club from 2009-13 ... Ontario Provincial U-17 silver medalists in 2012 and U-16 gold medalists in 2011 ... a four-year letterwinner in basketball ... MVP in 2010-11 ... led her team to the CISAA Championship in 2009 and 2012 ... a four-year letterwinner in volleyball ... her team won the CISAA Championship in 2011.
Full name is Rebecca Catherine Quinn ... born on August 11, 1995 in Toronto, Canada ... daughter of Bill and Linda Quinn ... has three sisters - Lauren (21), Erin (19) and Jillian (twin - 17) ... her father, Bill, played rugby at Western Ontario from 1981-85 ... her mother, Linda, played basketball at the University of Waterloo from 1980-84 ... her sister, Lauren, swam at Western Ontario from 2009-11 ... her sister, Jillian, will be a freshman at Northeastern University in the fall of 2013 and member of the soccer team .. named the Senior Class Prefect and Co-Head of the Sports Council in high school.
Church on Quinn:
“Rebecca Quinn comes from Toronto, Canada. She will be our first Canadian that will be joining our program. She played for the U17 World Cup with the Canadian team. She played every minute of the U17 World Cup. She’s also a central midfielder, but she’s played holding midfielder, she’s played attacking midfielder too. With Nicole Lipp leaving it leaves a void in that defensive midfield position. We’ll look at her, but we aren’t going to hold her for that defending midfield. She’s very good in the air, she’s good changing your point of attack, she’s a very good technical player, speed of play is very good and she serves a longer ball. We’re really, really excited about Rebecca coming into our program. She brings a ton of experience for such a young player in our program so we expect to see great things from Rebecca.”
5-9 • Defender • Greenwood Village, Colo. (Cherry Creek H.S.)
National Team Experience:
Selected to train with the U-18 Women’s National Team in the first training of 2013 ... member of the U-17 Women’s National team in 2011-12 ... played on the U-17 World Cup team in 2012 in Azerbaijan.
Regional Team Experience:
Played on the ODP Region IV team in 2010 ... member of the Colorado ODP team from 2007-11.
Ranked No. 24 in the TopDrawerSoccer.com top 150 ranking of the club soccer players ... listed No. 6 in the Rocky Mountains/Southwest region rankings by TopDrawerSoccer.com ... a four-year letterwinner at Cherry Creek H.S. ... NSCAA All-America as a senior ... played on the Colorado Rush W-League team in 2011-12 ... captain as a sophomore, junior and senior ... Second Team All-League, First Team 5A Soccer, First Team All-State and Academic All-State as a junior ... tallied two goals on five shots and posted one assist as a junior ... selected to the ECNL All-Tournament team in San Antonio, Texas in 2011 ... member of the 2011 State Cup champion squad, State Cup quarterfinalist in 2008-10 and State Cup finalist in 2007 ... named to the All-Tournament team for the Heart of America Classic ... MVP as a freshman and sophomore on the varsity team ... since her freshman year, has started every high school game she has been available for.
Full name is Elizabeth Pinkerton Raben ... born April 27, 1995 in Birmingham, Ala. ... daughter of David and Carrie Raben ... has one brother, Sam (15), and one sister, Mia (12) ... her father, David (1985), mom, Carrie (1986) and uncle Adam (1985) are all Duke graduates ... in high school, named to the High Academic Honor Roll as a freshman, sophomore and junior ... received the English Academic Achievement Awards as a freshman and sophomore and was a Spanish Honor Society as a sophomore.
Church on Raben:
“Lizzy Raben is another player that played in the World Championship U17, but she played with the U.S. team. Lizzy comes from a long list of Duke parents. Both her parents graduated from Duke. Lizzy’s been to camp for a number of years. She comes out of an absolutely great Colorado program and she plays the way we like to play. She’s very short possession, passes precise and moves off the ball well. She again is another player that is very good in the air. We will look at her as a central defender. She can also play as a wide defender also. Lizzy has great pace that we will need in the back. She is a very good one v. one defender, but again what we’re looking at about back players too is she can connect passes and she can go forward herself and combine with our midfielders. So, again, I think you’ll see a lot of Lizzy Raben next year on our field and we’re just very fortunate to have her come and play for Duke University.”
5-2 • Midfielder/Forward • Los Angeles, Calif. (The Archer School for Girls in Brentwood, Calif.)
Regional Team Experience:
Member of the 2012 Cal South ODP team national champions 2011 Cal South ODP team Region IV champions ... 2011 Region IV ODP pool ... 2010 ODP summer pool.
Ranked 29th in the Southern California region by TopDrawerSoccer.com ... a four-year letterwinner at The Archer School for Girls ... suffered a torn ACL and will not play as a senior ... team MVP as a sophomore and junior ... 2012 Far West Regional fall season and So Cal Development League second place finishes in 2012 ... All-League first team selection as a sophomore and junior ... registered 13 goals and 12 assists her junior year ... Archer Scholar-Athlete of the Year as a sophomore ... notched 29 goals and 17 assists as a sophomore ... named All-League second team her freshman year ... tallied eight goals and eight assists ...lettered as a sophomore and junior in track & field ... team and league MVP as a sophomore and junior ... CIF state qualification in the 100m, 200m, 4x100 relay and 4x400 relay.
Full name is Krystyna (Krysia) Marie Sikora ... born May 18, 1995 in Los Angeles, Calif. ... daughter of Zbigniew Sikora and Katherine Porter ... has one brother, Bartek (7) ... her uncle, Robert Porter, played on the Southern California water polo team in 1990 and 1991 ... was the sports editor of her school newspaper as a senior.
Church on Sikora:
“Krysia Sikora is another young lady that really is a very versatile player. Depending on what our formation is, if we play a 4-4-2 she is a great wide player. She is really good in space, great at playing her zone and she can skin players. Krysia is a great one v. one attacker, has a good service of the ball - near-post, far-post, or the middle of the goal. If we play a 4-3-3, she can go up front and play as a wide player on the outside. She brings those same qualities in the forward position with it too. Krysia is a hard-worker, has a great engine and works all the time. I think people will enjoy watching her play. She’s a very dynamic player and she’ll fit into our style especially with a lot of dynamic attacking players that we have.”
Coming off advancing to the NCAA Elite Eight for the fourth time over the last six years, the Blue Devils will return seven starters to the pitch in 2013. Included in those starters are All-America selections Natasha Anasi and Kaitlyn Kerr along with all-region honorees Laura Weinberg and Cassie Pecht. Other starters returning include Kim DeCesare, Mollie Pathman and Gilda Doria.
“We’ve begun our spring practice and we had a great start working with our speed and agility coach, working with our strength coach and the kids have really been enjoying it,” Church said. “You can see a pep in their step during this time. I’ve been in constant touch with our incoming class. They’re already working extremely hard in preparation of joining the team and when August comes we’ll be ready. Our kids will be fit. They will be ready to really mesh and we have a short preseason as we always do. We have probably the toughest opening weekend we’ve ever had here. We will play at Texas A&M and at South Carolina. The kids understand how difficult that will be.”
Other Blue Devils returning in 2013 include All-ACC Freshman selection in 2011 Kelly Cobb, as well as Alex Straton, Audrey Gibson, Katie Trees, Avery Rape, Katy Colas, Erin O’Connor, Tabria Williford, Anastasia Hunt, Ali Kershner, Meghan Thomas, Kara Wilson, Sammie Thomas and Kelly McCann. Duke registered a school-record 207 points and its 65 goals in 2012 was tied for the second-most in school history. The Blue Devils will return 93.0 percent of its scoring for 2013.
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