April 1, 2014
DALLAS (SMU) - The SMU Mustangs have added eight incoming freshmen for the 2014 season, the team announced Tuesday. The group will look to make an immediate impact for the Mustangs in 2014, head coach Chris Petrucelli's third season at the helm on the Hilltop.
"Both (assistant coach) Nicole Nelson and I starting working on this class the day we arrived at SMU," Petrucelli said. "We were focused on trying to replace some talented players who have graduated and trying to increase both the technical and physical abilities of the team overall. I feel confident in saying that we've accomplished what we set out to do."
The coaching staff firmly believes that this freshman class will help the program move forward and succeed promptly.
"This is a talented group in many ways," Petrucelli said. "They are good soccer players, good students, and good citizens. We were able to add speed, size, and physical abilities to our team. All of these players can pass a ball as well; therefore, they will fit with our style of play. I'm excited about this group and the overall impact they will have on our program. Our expectation is that everyone in this class will be capable of competing for starting spots immediately. They'll give our team a different look and more versatility to how we play the game moving forward. The competition it will create within the team can only make us better."
With 14 returning players and the incoming eight freshmen, Petrucelli is very optimistic and excited about the upcoming season and seeing how his team comes together on the pitch in 2014.
"With this class our 2014 roster will be young, talented, and athletic. We still have a good deal of work to do to become a high performing team. However, the pieces are in place to have success on a high level. We're all excited to get started. August can't come fast enough."
Lauren Guerra | F/MF | Yorda Linda, Calif.
Guerra plays club soccer for Slammers FC ECNL in Newport Beach, Calif., along with fellow 2014 signee Claire Oates. Guerra helped lead Slammers FC to an ECNL U16 National Championship and an ECNL club championship in 2012. Her team also won the 2011 Region IV Championships and was a finalist for the 2010 Nike Manchester Cup in Portland, Ore. The Slammers FC team also won the U15 Regional Championship in 2011 and is currently ranked 23rd overall in the Southern California area according to TopDrawerSoccer.com. Lauren participated in the 2008-09 id2 Regional Training Camp and the Cal South ODP from 2009-11. Since 2013, she has also played at Esperanza High School in Anaheim, Calif., and at Calvary Chapel Downey from 2011-12. Lauren was named All-Delphic league in 2011 and 2012 and All-Century league in 2013.
Petrucelli on Guerra: "Lauren is a talented attacking player. She can set play as well as score. She has outstanding ideas and plays the way we want to play. She's a great fit for SMU soccer."
Guerra on SMU: "I chose SMU because of all it has to offer. I absolutely love the campus and the atmosphere. I really enjoy all the coaching staff because they put a lot in the program and are great people. The soccer program itself is outstanding. I really love everything about SMU and can't wait to be a part of the team."
Lauren Harrington | D/MF | Katy, Texas
Harrington plays club soccer for the Albion Hurricanes FC ECNL in Houston, along with fellow 2014 signee Chinelo Odobulu. Harrington served as captain for the team from 2011-14 and was invited to the ECNL Player Development Program in 2013. She participated in the South Texas ODP program in 2009 and 2011 and made the ODP Regional Pool in 2011. Harrington also played for Seven Lakes High School in Katy, Texas, and was team captain in 2013 and 2014. She was named first team all-district 2011-13, second team all-region in 2013 and was Newcomer of the Year in District 19-5A in 2011. Harrington was named Offensive MVP in 2011 and 2012 and Defensive MVP in 2013. Her team was also ranked 35th overall in the state of Texas. Lauren was also a two-year letter winner in cross country.
Petrucelli on Harrington: "Lauren is a standout in more ways than one. She's an outstanding student as well as a talented player. She has great versatility, playing a number of different positions in both club and high school soccer. She excels no matter what she does."
Harrington on SMU: I chose SMU because of its beautiful campus, prestigious academics, and competitive soccer program. Upon meeting the coaches and the team, I knew that SMU would be a great fit for me not only on the field, but in the classroom. Both of my parents graduated from SMU, so I'm excited to continue the family tradition while getting to play the sport I love.
"With this class, our 2014 roster will be young, talented, and athletic.... We're all excited to get started. August can't come fast enough."
SMU head coach Chris Petrucelli
Diana Kay Manley / D / Dallas, Texas
Manley plays club soccer for the Dallas Texans ECNL and at Highland Park High School. Her high school team was UIL State Champs in 2012 and the UIL State Runner Up 2013. She earned first team all-district in 2012 and 2013 and was Defensive MVP in 2013. Manley has been a three-year starter on the Highland Park varsity team. She also made the ODP `95 State Team 2008 - 2012 and went to Region III camp in Alabama from 2008-2012. Her Dallas Texans made it to ECNL Nationals in 2012 and Regionals 2013.
Petrucelli on Manley: "Diana has had success with both her high school and club teams. She's an outstanding defender who is used to playing against top attacking players. She's a great addition to our program."
Manley on SMU: "Athletically, I look forward to the competitive atmosphere and following the footsteps of some of my soccer club's past members. Academically, SMU offers outstanding business and computer science prorgams with a close-knit classroom environment. Additionally, growing up next to campus my entire life, becoming a Mustang has always been a dream of mine. I look forward to being able to play for the home team, while viewing Dallas in a different retrospect."
Claire Oates | MF | Long Beach, Calif.
Oates plays club soccer for Slammers FC ECNL in Newport Beach, Calif., along with fellow 2014 signee Lauren Guerra. Oates served as captain in 2013 and 2014 and helped lead Slammers FC to an ECNL U16 National Championship and club championship in 2012. In 2011, her team won the Region IV Championships and was a finalist for the 2010 Nike Manchester Cup in Portland, Ore. Slammers FC also won the U15 Regional Championship in 2011. Oates also plays high school soccer at Woodrow Wilson Classic High School where she earned numerous honors in 2013, including NSCAA/Adidas All-Region, All-CIF first team, All-Moore League first team, team Offensive MVP and Excalibur All-Tournament team recognition. In 2012, Oates earned first team All-Moore league honors. Claire will graduate as a four-year distinguished scholar with a 4.24 GPA.
Petrucelli on Oates: "Claire brings some much needed size and a heading presence to our team. She's an outstanding player both in the air and on the ground. She's competitive and a winner. She'll have an immediate impact on our team."
Oates on SMU: "I chose SMU because of their amazing academics, business school and soccer program. I knew SMU was the right fit for me as soon as I stepped onto the campus. The coaching staff and the players were so nice and welcoming. Having the chance to play for a great nationally respected coach such as Chris Petrucelli just sealed the deal."
Chinelo Odobulu | F | Garland, Texas
Odobulu plays club soccer for the Albion Hurricanes FC ECNL in Houston, along with fellow 2014 signee Lauren Harrington. Her Albion Team is ranked sixth overall in the Texas Conference. Odobulu also played for Pope John XXIII High School in Katy, Texas, where she led her school to a third-place finish in 2011-12. CJ was a first team all-district selection in 2010-11 and second team in 2011-12. She was also named Newcomer of the Year in 2010-11.
Petrucelli on Odobulu: "Speed is what comes to mind when you think of CJ. She has the pace to get behind anyone. She'll give us a weapon we've been missing. She was one of the fastest players I saw on the recruiting trail."
Odubulu on SMU: "I was already familiar with SMU's reputation as a great college with caring faculty and talented student body, but what really convinced me that SMU was the best choice was meeting the soccer coaching staff and hearing about their goals and how they plan to achieve them."
Sarah Toelkes | D | Brentwood, Calif.
Toelkes plays club soccer for the Pleasanton Rage ECNL and at Heritage High School. Her club team is rated 28th overall in the Northern California/Hawaii region. Toelkes was named first team all-league in 2013 and earned second team honors in 2011 and 2012. She was named Defensive MVP in both 2011 and 2013 and led her high school team to the playoffs three straight years from 2011-13, advancing to the semifinals in 2011. She also lettered one year in cross country and two years in track and field.
Petrucelli on Toelkes: "Sarah is a very good defender. She's had great success on a high level giving her the experience she'll need to come in and be successful. She'll compete hard and will be ready to play right away."
Toelkes on SMU: "I knew SMU was the right place for me as soon as I set foot on the campus. The outstanding academics, amazing coaches, and friendly teammates made it an easy choice. I'm looking forward to being a Mustang for the rest of my life."
Vanessa Valadez | F | Kingwood, Texas
Valadez plays club soccer for Challenge SC ECNL and at Kingwood Park High School. She also participated in the 2013 and 2014 ECNL Player Development Program in Frisco, Texas. Valadez co-captained her Challenge team in 2013-14. She was named to the 2012 all-event team in Sanford, Fla., and was the leading goal scorer during the 2012 ECNL Regionals. She was named first team all-district in high school three straight years from 2010-13 and named honorable mention all-state in 2013. In 2011 and 2012, she led her team to a bi-district championship. After scoring 40 goals with 17 assists in 2012-13 her team advanced to the regional semifinals. Valadez earned one VYPE Magazine Houston Player of the Month honor and was named academic all-district 2010-13.
Petrucelli on Valadez: "Vanessa has a number of tools that make her a talented player. She scores goals, has pace to get behind teams and demonstrates tremendous effort in the box. She's courageous in the air and strikes a ball very well. She loves to score."
Valadez on SMU: I chose to attend SMU because of the school's reputation for academic achievement, small class sizes that allow students to receive individual attention, the beautiful campus and a soccer program where the coaches genuinely care about their athletes.
Malanna Wheat | D | Los Angeles, Calif.
Wheat plays club soccer for Real So Cal in the ECNL and at Harvard-Westlake School in Studio City, Calif. She co-captained her high school team in 2013-14, and was co-defensive MVP in 2013. Wheat was named first team all-league in 2012, and led her club to league championships in 2011 and 2012 and Mater Dei Tournament championships in 2012 and 2013. Her high school advanced to the CIF finals in 2013 and semifinals in 2012.
Petrucelli on Wheat: "Melanna is a talented player. She can defend and is a quality player with the ball. She can play central or wide. She plays for top club and high school programs. She'll be prepared to play at a high level."
Wheat on SMU:' I chose SMU because of the warm southern hospitality it provides. I wanted a school with strong academics whose athletics would parallel in terms of intensity and vigor. Being partially raised in the city of Los Angeles, it's easy to get lost in the heat of the moment and the city life. SMU offers a slower pace and appreciation for its rural surroundings, and allows me to connect to my Charlotte, N.C. roots as well. Being given the opportunity to play collegiate soccer, especially for a Division I program, is such an amazing opportunity. I'm not only attracted to the idea of the intense camaraderie and pride associated with representing SMU's women's program, but am also fully invested in representing the University as well."