Soccer collects eight signees

Sophomore forward Shelby Wall (left) goes up for a header against Mississippi College Oct. 16, 2016 at the UNA soccer complex. UNA added eight recruits on National Signing Day Feb. 1.

The North Alabama soccer team added eight new names to the 2017 roster Feb. 1, some of which were a mile a way, while others were on the other side of the world.

The new signees include three international prospects from Finland, England and Australia. From the United States, UNA landed one player each from Indiana, Illinois and Georgia. Two of the earliest signees came from Alabama, including Florence High School standout Mary Margaret Borden.

“We have a real diverse group,” said UNA head coach Chris Walker. “Overall, I think we strengthened some of our weaknesses from the past season and just added to the depth of the team.”

Borden, a 5’8’’ defender, won the 2016 Times Daily Player of the Year award. She also received an All-Area selection, an Alabama North-South All-Star slot, the Golden Boot award and was Florence’s team MVP.

“She will come in and compete for playing time straightaway,” Walker said. “She was great at Florence, and we expect her to continue to improve and keep it going.”

Joining Borden in the defense is Taylor Farmer of Dallas, Georgia, and Emma Stice of Sycamore, Illinois. The three will hope to replace the likes of Alyssa Bova, Susan Lang and Samantha Parrish who graduated from the team last season.

In the midfield, UNA added Lexi DeCamp, a 5’7’’ prospect from William Henry Harrison High School in West Lafayette, Indiana. UNA returns all three starters from last year’s midfield in Beatriz Fernandes, Margarida Sousa and Kristen Sinden.

“I think we’re gathering some good weapons,” Fernandes said. “We need some help, and I believe that the recruits that are coming in will help a lot if not this coming year, then the next year when we go to Division I.”

With the loss of senior forward Ele Costello, UNA added three forwards to join the likes of junior Kylie Huey and sophomores Shelby Wall and Audrey Tanner. Madeline Guillen, Sara Litmanen and Shalom College transfer Kate Ennett hope to help bolster the front line next season.

Rounding out the 2017 class is goalkeeper Charlotte Johnson from Bridport, England. Johnson will compete with current goalies Kate Webster and Savannah Stewart immediately, Walker said.

This recruiting class has been in the works since last August, Walker said.

“All eight of them have been done for a long time,” Walker said. “It’s not like football where they’re deciding today where they’re going to school. We could’ve signed this class six months ago, so today’s just another day. But it’s nice for the girls to (sign) and that we can finally talk about it.”

Walker said he believes all eight players embody the high-character personalities he seeks.

“Away from the soccer field, we’ve spent a lot of time recruiting this group,” Walker said. “You can be the best player in the world, but if your personality isn’t going to fit what we’ve already got, we will look in a different direction.

“I think student-wise and personality-wise, this group of eight will add to what we’ve already got here. They’re great students, and they all have good grades. They’re the right people we want to bring to UNA as we take that step forward with our last season in Division II.”

The Lions will play their first of four spring games March 8 when they host Alabama-Huntsville at the UNA soccer complex.

The new recruits will join the team next fall.