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NAU Women's Soccer Signs 12 Additions to the Lumberjack Family

NAU Women's Soccer Signs 12 Additions to the Lumberjack Family

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona University women's soccer team has signed 12 future Lumberjacks that will officially join the team in the fall of 2016. Adding to an already talented pool of players, Head Coach Andre Luciano and his staff are excited to welcome aboard the newest additions- from all over the country and abroad- to the NAU Soccer family.

Amanda Bennett

Bennett will join the squad from Desert Ridge High School in Mesa, Ariz. where she was a four-year starter and one-year captain on the soccer team. She racked up 56 goals and 29 assists from her sophomore to senior seasons, becoming Desert Ridge's all-time leading goal scorer. Bennett was named by her teammates the Most Valuable player in both 2015 and 2016, and has also won three state championships with the Arizona Arsenal under the direction of Matt Midkiff.

"Amanda [Bennett] is a tenacious defender; a natural left-back who loves to attack," Luciano said. "She's an incredibly tough tackler of the ball and is relentless in her play."

Heather Donais

Donais is a multi-sport athlete at Kamiakin High School out of Kennewick, Wash. Donais was a four-year starter and one-year captain for the soccer team, garnering First Team All-State, All-Conference and All-Area nods in her senior season. In track, the Washington native was the 2015 state champion in the 300-meter hurdles, 100-meter hurdles, 4x100-meter relay and 4x200-meter relay. Donais is the second-fastest 300-meter hurdler to ever go through Kamiakin High School.

"Heather [Donais] is a physical specimen and one of the fastest players we've recruited here," Luciano noted. "She is a player that can get in behind teams offensively with her pace, but can also be put in the back line to shut down any opponent she faces."

Synne Flem

Flem will be the first-ever European to suit up for the Lumberjacks and will come to Flagstaff from Norway. She attends the Norwegian College of Elite Sports, bringing an abundance of overseas soccer experience with her to the United States. Flem won a championship with the 2014 U-19 Stabaek team and was a finalist in 2015. Flem's father, Andre Flem, was also a professional soccer player for 15 years and a Hall of Famer for Stabaek Soccer Club.

"Synne [Flem] was a two-year process in terms of identification and flying to Norway to see her train and play," Luciano said. "We feel she could be an incredible asset to our program. She's an extremely cerebral player, great in the air and a good communicator."

Carly George

George, a Littleton, Colo. native, will come to Northern Arizona University from Chatfield Senior High. In her senior season, she was named First Team All-Conference and helped her team advance to the second round of the 2015 high school state playoffs. In 2012, George was also a district champion in tennis, helping lift her team to a district title. She comes from an athletic background as both parents are former college athletes and her cousin, Thomas Jaeshke, is a professional volleyball player.

"Carly [George] is just a blue-collar player," Luciano commented. "She battles for everything on the field and definitely has a lot of upside to her game."

Tatum Heeres

A four-year starter and letterwinner from Desert Vista High School, Heeres will make the trek up north to continue her soccer career in the blue and gold. In three seasons, she scored a combined 52 goals for her high school team. Heeres has a plethora of soccer accolades to her name including the 2013-14 Tempe District Player of the Year, as well as being named to the All-City Tribune Second Team and A.I.A. Division I Section First Team for the last two seasons.

"Tatum [Heeres] is an extremely quick forward and has played on an excellent club team winning numerous state titles," Luciano said. "She's a crafty finisher in front of the goal."

Hannah Householder

Householder was part of a three-time Arizona State Tournament qualifying team at Basha High School that accumulated a record of 49-15 over four years under Head Coach Greg Johnson. For the 2014-15 season, the Chandler, Ariz. native garnered Division I Soccer Honorable Mention, Division I, Section 2 All-Section Second Team and First Team All-CUSD honors.

"Hannah [Householder] is a player we identified through our camps, so we've watched her a lot over the years in Arizona," Luciano noted. "She's a terrific athlete who will add a strong dimension to our team."

Haley Kern

Despite a season-ending injury heading into her senior season at Sandy High School, Kern was named to Second Team All-League her freshman year, First Team All-League her sophomore year and Second Team All-League her junior year. The Sandy, Ore. native has played on a multitude of club teams including the Eastside Timbers Future Stars Academy, the Olympic Development Program and Thoms Academy.

"Haley [Kern] is a prototypical central player and is great in the air with strong technical skills," Luciano said. "She has a coach's brain; we look forward to having her back from her ACL injury."

Ashlyn Lovell

Lovell comes to Northern Arizona from Highland High School in Gilbert, Ariz. where she was a three-year starter and one-year captain under John Berzinz and Andy Barber. Lovell's team won four state titles and finished third in regionals in 2015. She was also an All-Division Second Team selection her junior season and an honorable mention selection the year before. Lovell's dad, Jon Lovell, played soccer at Brigham Young University.

"Ashlyn [Lovell] is a box-to-box midfielder who can cover a lot of space and ground," Luciano commented. "She has a great work ethic and is an excellent passer."

Malia Lyken

Born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, Lyken attends A.J. Dimond High School where she played for Assistant Coach Carolyn Savage for one year. Her team won the Regional Presidents Cup and the National Presidents Cup where she scored a combined 18 goals in that run. In October of 2015, Lyken was invited to the U-19 National Team Camp.

"Malia [Lyken] was a player that we identified very early on through Carolyn's [Savage] association with her in Alaska," Luciano said. "She is a powerful one-on-one player who is extremely dynamic and fast on the dribble. She will provide us the necessary pace that we need up top."

Kambree Meskill

Meskill is another future 'Jack who will stay in her home state of Arizona to play soccer. She attends Perry High School where she was a four-year starter and one-year captain. Meskill earned All-Section Second Team honors in 2013, and a year later, was selected to the All-Arizona First Team, All-Section First Team, Arizona Republic All-Arizona First Team and EV Tribune Honorable Mention. She also won four state championships with the Arizona Arsenal.

"Kambree [Meskill] is a playmaker," Luciano said. "She's quick, dynamic and has great vision with the ability to score inside the 18."

Shelbie O'Connor

A local commitment out of Flagstaff High School, O'Connor led her team in both goals and assists for four years. The Eagles went undefeated in regular season for nearly two years and made it to the second round of the state tournament in 2013. O'Connor is a three-time Arizona Daily Sun Soccer Athlete of the Year and was named to the All-Section First Team in 2015.

"We've watched Shelbie [O'Connor] play since she was 12 years old here in Flagstaff," Luciano said. "She's a prolific goal-scorer for her high school team and has done extremely well in club. We're excited about what her potential can be."

Willicia Smith

Rounding out this year's signing class is Smith, coming to Flagstaff from Surprise, Ariz. For Willow Canyon High School, she tallied 22 goals and 15 assists in a three-year span and was recently named the Offensive MVP among her peers. Smith's team strung together back-to-back undefeated seasons and section championships in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 campaigns.

"Willicia [Smith] has a tremendous upside as a player," Luciano said. "She is extremely athletic and dynamic, has a great work ethic, and I feel like she will have a bright future here."

Q&A with Senior Cierra Gamble
September 4, 2015 Q&A with Senior Cierra Gamble