Stanford Women's Soccer Inks Nine Recruits

Feb. 4, 2005

Stanford, Calif. - The Stanford women's soccer coaching staff announced the signing of nine incoming freshmen to the Class of 2009 today. Stanford will welcome Marisa Abegg, Kelley Birch, Allison Falk, Austinn Freeman, Alex Gamble, Hillary Heath, Lea MacKinnon, Kate Mannino and Lauren Shapiro to The Farm this fall, as they join a squad that advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season.

'We have signed nine exceptional student-athletes for our 2005 recruiting class,' noted head coach Paul Ratcliffe. 'Each player will bring a special element to our team and complement our talented returners. We have very high expectations for this group of recruits because they have the ability to make an immediate impact on the Stanford Women's Soccer program.'

Abegg hails from Lake Oswego, Ore., where she helped her club team to four Snickers State Cup Championships (1999, 2000, 2002, 2003). She has captained the Oregon ODP 87 squad from 2001-04 and was a member of the Region IV ODP squad in 2003 and was a pool member in 2004.

'It has always been a dream of mine to play for Stanford Soccer and it has finally come true,' commented Abegg. 'I am so excited for the next four years as a Cardinal.'

Birch, who, as a senior, captained her Torrey Pines High School squad in San Diego, Calif., was a Wendy's High School Heisman nominee in 2004. She helped Surf Soccer to the US Youth Soccer National Championship in 2003, a pair of Far West Regional titles and three Southern California State Championships. Birch has also been a member of the California state ODP for five years.

'Playing soccer for Stanford has been my dream,' noted Birch. 'I was looking for a prestigious academic school that also had a very competitive soccer program. Stanford was the one school that I found to have the highest levels of both athletics and academics.'

Falk, from San Ramon, Calif., is a 2004 NSCAA/adidas High School All-American and an NSCAA/adidas High School Scholar All-American. She is a two-year captain at San Ramon Valley HS and was named the East Bay Athletic League Soccer Player of the Year by the San Ramon Valley Times. Falk was also named a First-Team All-League Defender three times in the EBAL.

'Stanford has a prestigious academic reputation, as well as a highly regard, Division I soccer program,' said Falk. 'Next year, I am looking forward to taking my game to the next level, making new friends, and enjoying the college experience.'

Freeman, a local recruit from Palo Alto High School, is a four-year letterwinner in soccer and holds the school record for career assists. She was named an All-Mercury Soccer Player and is a two-time First-Team All-DeAnza League selection. Freeman also helped her club team to the Futsal California state championship in 2003 and was a member of the California ODP team in 2003-04.

'Growing up in Palo Alto, I have seen countless Stanford women's soccer games and I have continually been in awe of the genuine talent and teamwork,' noted Freeman. 'All the girls are unbelievably skilled, academically motivated and overall fun people. The coaches are motivating, experienced and down to earth. I cannot wait to contribute to the team and I cannot think of a more positive or competitive environment that will help me excel. I am definitely ready to be a Cardinal!'

Gamble hails from Temecula, Calif., where she was a four-year letterwinner and two-time captain in soccer at Temecula Valley HS. She was a member of the U19 National pool in 2004 and was named Goal Coast Player of the Year. A member of the Region IV ODP in 2004, Gamble also helped her squad to the Surf Cup Girl's Under-17 Championship in 2003 and was named MVP of the Tournament. That year, she was also received the Adidas Golden Glove Award at the USYA National Championship after helping her team to the Under-16 title.

'I am excited to become part of the Stanford women's soccer team and contribute to future championships!' said Gamble. 'Stanford possesses the best college atmosphere and I can't wait to be a part of it.'

Heath, from Seattle, Wash., helped her club team to a pair of Washington State Championships in 2001 and 2004, as the squad advanced to the regional quarterfinals. She captained her high school team as a senior, which was named All-Academic State Champion for the second time in her four years. Heath was a U14 87 National Camp invitee in 2001 and a member of the Region IV ODP team at the Boca Raton Inter Regionals in 2001 and 2002. Also in 2002, Heath was a member of the Region IV ODP squad at the Texas Shootout.

'I'm really excited to come to Stanford because I know it will challenge me in every aspect of my life and make me a happier person in the process,' noted Heath.aMacKinnon helped her high school squad to a runner-up finish in the state tournament at 5A. She was an ODP team member in 2002 and 2003 and helped the Region IV squad to a runner-up finish in 2004. MacKinnon is also a member of the Honor Roll and National Honor Society.

'I am very excited for the opportunity to both play soccer and to attend school at Stanford and am looking forward to a great season,' said MacKinnon.

Mannino, out of Bellingham, Wash., captained her team at Squalicum High School last fall as the team advanced to the State Cup playoffs for the fourth-straight year. She was honored as a First-Team All-League selection three times and is a four-time member of the Honor Roll. Mannino has also been a member of the Washington state team since 2000.

'Going to Stanford is a dream come true for me,' commented Mannino. 'I'm excited to be in a place where I know everybody wants to be. It's like Disneyland ... without the rides!'

Shapiro, from Scottsdale, Ariz., attended the U-17 National Team Camp in July 2004 and October 2004. She has helped her club team to five Arizona State Cup titles (1998-99, 2002-04), a 2004 Far West Regional Finals appearance and a 2003 Far West Regional Semifinal appearance. As a junior, Shapiro led her Chaparral High School squad to the 4A State Championship and was named First-Team All-Region by the Arizona Interscholastic Association and the Scottsdale Tribune. She was also honored as a First Team selection by the AIA and the Arizona Republic as a sophomore, while garnering 4A-2A Player of the Year honors by the Scottsdale Tribune.

'I'm extremely thankful for such an awesome opportunity,' noted Shapiro. 'Stanford is the perfect combination -- outstanding academics, a talented team and an excellent coaching staff. I'm really looking forward to making a contribution to the team.'

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