“First and foremost I’d like to thank our assistant coach, Nick Whiting, in making the connection with many of these young women and evaluating their talent over the past year,” praised Coach Morrill. “He has done a phenomenal job in the recruitment process of our current 10 signees for the 2012 class.”
Sahar Mahar (Jacksonville, Fla.), Mikkie Gallagher (Pittsboro), Sydney Maddox (Fairview), Kate Brandon (Charlotte), Anja Decker (Palm Harbor, Fla.) and Erica Allen (Norton, Ohio) join an already deep and talented recruiting class as the Bobcats prepare for a run at their second consecutive Conference Carolinas Championship.
“What a great group of six girls to add to this freshman class,” said Morrill. “We are extremely pleased with the quality of character that this program will be receiving both on and off the field at Lees-McRae. Their soccer knowledge and ability to compete at a high level are going to be key components to the return of another Conference Carolinas Championship to Banner Elk, North Carolina.”
Erica Allen – Forward/Midfielder – 5-8 – Norton, Ohio
Allen joins the Bobcats from Norton High School in Norton, Ohio, where she was a four-time all-conference first team selection and a two-time all-district performer. The 5-8 forward/midfielder led her team to the district championship match as a senior, while earning the Akron Touchdown Club All-Star Award as both a sophomore and junior and Rookie of the Year honors as a freshman.
A member of the Internationals Soccer Club, which plays in the U.S. Club National League, Allen has led her team to the past two state cup championships. The Norton, Ohio native is also a regular on the Ohio Olympic Development Program squads, playing on the state team, qualifying for the program’s regional camp in each of the last four years, and attending the ODP European Tour as a freshman. She is the daughter of Brad and Darlene Allen and has one sister, Stephanie.
“Erica has been on our radar for quite some time,” Morrill said. “We were able to establish a connection with Erica through a summer camp last year that our coaching staff was working. She is a strong athlete with an unbelievable leg and a deadly long range shot. We look forward to having her attack on our front line or as one of our attacking center-mids come September.”
Kate Brandon – Defender – 5-3 – Charlotte
Brandon joins the Bobcats from Providence High School in Charlotte, where she was a two-time all-conference and all-region performer during her junior and senior seasons. During her last two campaigns at Providence, Brandon posted 24 goals and 16 assists, leading her team on a run to the Class 4A state semifinals as a senior. A member of Charlotte Soccer Academy, Brandon was selected for the North Carolina Olympic Development Program and to regional camp in 2007 and 2008.
Off the pitch, Brandon is a member of the National Honor Society, PHS Senior Board, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and HOSA. She also volunteers with Sharon Weekday School, Habitat for Humanity and with Happy Feet Soccer Camps. Brandon is the daughter of Dan and Kim Brandon, and has one brother, Matthew. Her father Dan played baseball at Wingate University.
“Kate has been a great surprise to our recruiting class this season,” said Morrill. “She is an absolute workhorse and knows the feeling of success after coming off a tremendous run with her high school soccer team this past season (Providence High School). Kate will be seen as an outside back for us next fall, or even possibly as a center-mid.”
Anja Decker – Midfielder – 5-8 – Palm Harbor, Fla.
Decker comes to Lees-McRae from perennial powerhouse Palm Harbor University High School, where she led her team to four district championships, two regional titles, and two state crowns, scoring the winning goal in the Florida High School 5A State Championship match as a freshman. A native of Palm Harbor, Decker was selected to the Pinellas-Hillsborough Senior All-Star game this past year.
The 5-8 midfielder played club soccer for West Florida Premier, which plays in the Region III Premier League has been a perennial top-five team in the state of Florida for the past six years. Decker was also a member of the academic honor roll all four years and is a certified nursing assistant. She is the daughter of Marty and Denise Decker, has two brothers, Lukas and Landon, and one sister, Emmy.
“Anja has a natural presence on the field and a calm and collected style of play that shows her knowledge and experience with the game,” Morrill said. “She comes from a soccer driven area on the West Coast of Florida and has been quite successful with both her high school and club programs. We are excited to watch her transition quickly to the collegiate game and bring a good bit of poise to our midfield play.”
Mikkie Gallagher – Forward – 5-6 – Pittsboro
Gallagher joins the Bobcats after stints at both Chapel Hill High School and Northwood High School, where she was a three-time all-state performer. She led her team in assists as a junior and goals as a senior, and has spent the last eight seasons with the Triangle United Soccer Association 94 Gold team at the club level, captaining the squad for the last six years.
The Pittsboro native is the daughter of Henry and Maria Gallagher and has two brothers, Danny and Matt, and one sister: Kerry. Her brother Danny played soccer at Louisburg College and East Carolina University, while her brother Matt currently plays soccer at Catawba College.
“Mikkie has the game of soccer in her blood,” said Morrill. “We were extremely excited to land Mikkie and look forward to watching her continue the family legacy of playing collegiately at a high level. Her leg strength and poised demeanor on the field will be needed in the midfield and up top for us next season.”
Sydney Maddox – Forward/Midfielder – 5-5 – Fairview
Maddox comes to Lees-McRae from A.C. Reynolds High School in Asheville, where she was a four-year starter and ranks in the top five in program history in both goals and assists. A three-time all-conference and all-region selection, Maddox led A.C. Reynolds to a Mountain Athletic Conference championship as a junior while earning all-Western North Carolina honors.
The Fairview native is also a product of the Carolina Elite Soccer Academy, where she has played the past four seasons in the Elite Club National League – the highest level of club soccer in the country. She has helped her team to six South Carolina State Championships, three Region III quarterfinal appearances and has been a two-time Region III Premier League runner-up. She has also been a member of North Carolina’s Olympic Development program, and is the daughter of Steven and Shelly Maddox.
“Personally, one of the best aspects of coaching collegiate soccer is getting to know your recruits and players,” said Morrill. “Coach Whiting and myself have known Sydney for quite some time and when the phone call came through on her commitment, we were ecstatic. She is such a physically strong forward and has a knack for scoring goals. We know she is going to flourish here and we can’t wait to get her on the field.”
Sarah Mahar – Forward – 5-2 – Jacksonville, Fla.
Mahar comes to Lees-McRae from Paxon High School, where she scored over 100 goals in her career. She was a four-time all-Gateway Conference member and earned Florida Times Union all-First Coast honors four times. Mahar finished her senior season with 32 goals and 11 assists, leading Paxon to its third consecutive Gateway Conference title and a spot in the regional quarterfinals.
A National Champion at the Club level, Mahar joins the Bobcats after leading her Clay County Soccer Club team to the 2010 U.S. Club Soccer National Cup championship, scoring both goals in the title match to give her team a 2-1 victory. She led Clay County to the Florida State Cup Final 4 her junior year and to the Elite 8 as a senior. Mahar is also a member of the FC Jax Destroyers of the W-League, and is the daughter of Tom and Virginia. She has two sisters, Jessica and Alyssa.
“Sarah will add an aggressive style of play to our front line next season,” Morrill said. “She is an absolute spark plug and loves the game of soccer and finding the back of the net when on the field. She will be coming off of a summer with extensive training from Jacksonville’s W-League team, the Jacksonville Destroyers. We are excited and ready to have Sarah with us this Fall.”
Lees-McRae (13-5-3) enjoyed one of the best seasons in program history this fall, advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history after capturing the program’s first Conference Carolinas regular season and tournament championships since 2000. The Bobcats posted a 13-5-3 overall record while going 11-1 in league play, setting a program mark for most conference wins in a season.
Lees-McRae College, a four-year, co-educational liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church, USA, is located in the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains of northwestern North Carolina. Being a year-round tourist destination, the area provides the best of a vibrant college community coupled with natural beauty and a rich history. Visit www.lmc.edu for more information.