BOCA RATON, Fla. – The Florida Atlantic University women’s soccer team will welcome a dozen new faces to the program in 2016 as Head Coach Patrick Baker and his staff get 12 signees on National Signing Day. Ten of the 12 hail from Florida while FAU also signed players from Canada and New York.
Makenzie Burton comes to FAU from Vero Beach High School where she boasts an outstanding academic and athletic resume. Burton’s 4.33 GPA has placed her in the top ten percent of her class each of the last two years while being a member of the National Honor Society. On the pitch, Burton has started every game of her high school career and was named All-State and All-Area as a freshman. She helped lead her Space Coast United Elite club team to the Florida State Cup Final Four, two CDL Showcase Championships and a Disney Showcase championship. She was also a member of the US Club Soccer Player Development Program and was selected to the ODP Inter-Regional in 2014.
“I chose FAU to attend school because as soon as I stepped on campus I was treated like family and felt right at home,” Burton said. “The coaching staff is incredible and is developing the soccer program into something I want to be a part of.”
“Mak is rated as one of the top forwards in Florida this year and has shown great versatility to her game,” Baker said. “She has size, power and speed which makes her difficult to defend in many ways. Her ability to create chances in high percentages on a consistent basis is something that caught our eye from the beginning of her recruitment process. Mak has enjoyed individual soccer success at the high school, club, state and regional levels. She was the first verbal commitment for our 2016 recruiting class and helped shape the group we signed today. We are excited to have Mak join our soccer family and look forward to her career here.”
Emily Cady is the all-time leading scorer at East Lake High School with 78 career goals. She helped guide her squad to district and regional titles as a freshman and earned another district championship as a senior. Another National Honor Society member, Cady also won the U13 State Cup.
“There are many reasons why I chose to commit to play soccer at FAU,” Cady said. “One of the biggest reasons for me was the family aspect between the players and the coaches. I feel at home and very comfortable around the girls and coaches. Staying in Florida was a must for me, considering I hate the cold, but I also wanted to be in close range of a beach, and the fact that there is one located just three miles from campus was icing on the cake!”
“Emily is a very talented player that can play multiple positions on the field,” Baker said. “She is more known for her attacking qualities as she broke the East Lake HS school scoring record this year. Emily has a tremendous work ethic and possesses a great will to win. Her addition to our class adds to the quality attacking players on their way to campus this fall. She has the ability to beat defenders in so many ways and has shown great composure in front of goal. Emily verbally committed to us earlier this year and our team got better the day she dedicated herself to our program.”
Alyssa DeSantis is a decorated signee from Canada, where she won a National Championship, two league titles and two Ontario Cups over the last five years, leading her team to a 69-12-7 overall record. DeSantis was named the MVP of her team in 2012 and 2013 and took first place at the 2013 CASL Tournament, composed of players from both the U.S. and Canada.
“I'm thankful that I was given the opportunity to continue playing the sport I love while getting an education at the same time,” DeSantis said. “Florida is already a second home to me and I'm thrilled to live part of my life in such a beautiful place. A big thank you to my parents for always supporting me, especially my dad for helping me reach my full potential. I'm excited to see what the future holds for me at FAU. Go Owls!”
“Alyssa is our lone international player in this recruiting class,” Baker said. “She is a wide player that works up and down the flank area very well. Alyssa is a tremendous passer of the ball and serves from the wide positions with great accuracy. She has some great technical qualities and makes the game easy for those around her. Alyssa and her family have followed our steps in building this program over the past three years and she will be a welcomed addition to our team. We believe her best soccer is still in front of her and can’t wait to have her here on campus.”
Elisha Holmes comes to FAU by way of Tampa Bay Technical High School in Seffner, Fla.
“Elisha is arguably one of the fastest players in the state and can create chances out of nothing,” Baker said. “She has top-end quickness and speed which allows here to test any defender or back line. We were fortunate in the recruiting process with her, because we had her specific major of interest and she knew a number of our other 2016 commitments. Elisha recently joined the 2015 National Championship Tampa Bay United team and will grow from her new environment. She is a tremendous young lady that has a very bright future here at FAU.”
Alex Maxson boasts 57 career goals and 47 assists and helped guide her Community School of Naples program to a Regional Championship last year. An All-Area honoree in 2014-15, Maxson and her team won the District Championships for the third consecutive season. As a senior, Maxson scored 22 goals and tallied 22 assists as a fourth-year team captain and was named All-State.
“I chose FAU for the opportunity to play soccer for a great coach who is building yet another top collegiate program,” Maxson said. “I also really liked the architecture of the new buildings and felt really comfortable on campus. I’m very excited to get started with all the new recruits, many of whom I already know from my club experience. I’m thankful that in addition to playing soccer I will get a great education. I’m so excited to get started that I plan on enrolling this summer.”
“Alex is one of the best center backs graduating in the state of Florida this year and we are delighted to have her as part of our 2016 recruiting class,” Baker said. “She possesses size, strength and speed in the back line and has been a key figure in both her high school / club teams success. With the loss of three very talented center backs the past two years, having someone of Alex’s talents was crucial to our class. She is a good organizer, heads and tackles with conviction and connects the game out of the back very well. Alex is a tremendous student-athlete that will do very well on and off the field at FAU.”
Jessica Monteiro is a midfielder from Estero, Fla. where she ranks as the assists leader and second-highest scorer in Estero High School history. Monteiro led her 2015 squad to the District Championship as a captain after playing on the varsity team all four seasons. Her Florida Fire Juniors club team is ranked No. 2 in the state and made an appearance in the 2014 Final Four State Cup.
“When I first found out about FAU and its soccer program I was very excited because I had only heard good things about the team, players and coaches,” Monteiro said. “Before I committed, I knew that FAU was where I wanted to attend because of the people who make it what it is and the team’s goals for becoming better. I could see how much time and effort the coaches put in to what they do and realized that it is what I want to become a better player and a better student. I want to be a part of achieving those goals and be a part of a team that has such good intentions. I knew FAU was my school and that being a part of a team like this will be the most exciting part of my college career.”
“Jessica is an extremely gifted soccer player that is committed to playing both sides of the ball,” Baker said. “She runs box to box, has a willingness to defend as much as she wants to attack and can make the special happen at any moment. Jess has that unique blend of vision, touch and skill and possesses that “it” factor in the midfield. Watching her and Alex Maxson together the past two years on the same club team has been nice, but it will be even better this fall when they are here representing FAU. Jess has tremendous qualities and we are excited to see where her game goes in college.”
Mary O’Hara comes to FAU from Islip High School where she is on pace to earn an Advanced Regents Diploma in June. The 2015 New York Player of the Year, O’Hara led her Islip team to the State Class A Championship for the first time in school history. O’Hara was named All-State and All-County each of the last three years as well as garnering All-Region, All-Metro, All-Newsday First Team and All-American Watch honors last season.
“I am very excited to be a part of the FAU family,” O’Hara said. “Going to school in Florida has always been a dream of mine and FAU's location is perfect. When I visited FAU for the first time, I knew that the school was right for me. I was impressed by the campus, facilities, academic support, and athletic complexes. Coach Baker's enthusiasm for his team, and the game, reminds me of my club coach and I look forward to playing for him and being part of FAU's future.”
“Mary is a special talent that we are very excited to have join our program this fall,” Baker said. “She hails from one of the best club teams in the Northeast and has enjoyed tremendous success at the high school / club levels. This past fall, she led Islip HS to a state championship and received NSCAA All-Region honors for her high level of play. She can play in the midfield or up front, but we like what she does in the central part of the field. Mary has a tremendous soccer IQ and can solve the game in so many ways - she has been an extension of her coach on the field for years. Mary will impact our team right away and look forward to her game being on display at FAU.”
A Broward County Honorable Mention, Abby Ribas comes to FAU from Archbishop McCarthy High School in Pembroke Pines, Fla. The Rookie of the Year on the track team, Ribas is a member of the Honor Society and has logged more than 600 hours of community service.
“I participated in soccer camps at various colleges, but it was following the FAU camp that I decided I would like to play there if given the opportunity,” Ribas said. “ FAU met what I was looking for. I really enjoyed working with Coach Baker and his “Live Like Champions!” approach. My preference was to go to college in Florida and FAU is in the perfect location. I will have the opportunity to be on my own but I will still be close enough to my family. My Dad, Mom, and little sister are really excited that I will be close enough to visit and that they can come watch me play! I couldn’t be happier to be an Owl!”
“Abby has some of the traits you can’t teach - real speed, ability to score goals and a strong desire to develop her game,” Baker said. “She really loves FAU and our Live Like Champions theme. Abby had been a terrific two-sport athlete and we are thankful she chose to pursue soccer in college. We feel like her best soccer is still to come and are excited to see her development in our training/playing environments. Abby’s pace will put you on the edge of your seat, but there is a lot more to her game than just her pace. We feel she will add a number of dimensions to our attack.”
Meredith Roberts comes to FAU from Manatee High School where she was named the 2014 and 2015 Offensive MVP. Roberts also earned All-Area honors while maintaining a 4.3 GPA. She is involved in numerous community service projects, including the SOPHIE Project.
“My decision to commit to FAU and continue my soccer career is because of the program's extraordinary head coach, Patrick Baker,” Roberts said. “Coach Baker, Coach Jordan, and Coach Crane will be amazing mentors, encouraging and challenging me to be the best student-athlete I can be. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to continue to play the sport I love while building new friendships with future teammates. The team chemistry, determination, and competitiveness will help develop and improve my technical skills, mental toughness, and overall fitness. I am excited to major in Exercise Science at FAU because of my interest in sports, medicine, wellness, and psychology, leading to my career goal of becoming a Physical Therapist. Go Owls!”
“Meredith is one of the top instate talents in the state of Florida this year,” Baker said. “She has shown the abilities to hurt teams in three ways - off the dribble, through her passing and by scoring goals. Meredith’s ability to solve pressure and unbalance a defender with the ball is some of the best we have seen - she is a savvy 1 v. 1 attacker. She could play up front or anywhere in the midfield positions, but her craft and skill will be welcomed additions to the team. Meredith excels in three key areas of our Live Like Champions theme - in the classroom, within the community and on the soccer field.”
Another honor roll student, Maddie Winch won the Presidents Day Cup with her Jupiter United team. A 2014 Palm Beach County All-Conference honoree from Jupiter High School, Winch spends time volunteering at the Jupiter Medical Hospital and teaching younger players the game of soccer.
“While in the process of selecting schools, FAU stood out in many ways,” Winch said. “FAU offers the major I am looking for, as well as academic help that I will need to move forward in my choice of study. However, I think the thing that stood out most to me was the team’s chemistry. I could picture myself playing and getting along with the girls, and that was the most important thing. It is also the perfect distance from home and the beach, which is a major key.”
“Maddie is another very talented center back from the state of Florida and can also play outside back as well if needed,” Baker said. “She has size, speed and keeps the game very simple out of the back. Maddie joined Team Boca last year and has been a key piece to the team’s progression into one of the top sides in the state this year. She is good in the air, strong on the tackle and has a strong desire to grow as a player. Having worked with her first hand, she is a pleasure to coach and will fit into our program very well. Maddie has continued to develop her ball skills and soccer IQ over the past few months - she will be a welcomed addition to our crop of defenders.”
Libby Wissman comes to FAU as the MVP of Calvary Christian High School in Palm Harbor, Fla. Wissman led her team in goals scored and won a national championship with her Tampa Bay United club team. A three-sport athlete, Wissman also runs track and plays softball and volunteers at the YMCA.
“I decided to commit to FAU because I wanted to go to a D1 school within the state of Florida,” Wissman said. “The campus is really nice and I have heard all great things about the academics. I committed to FAU soccer because I wanted to play the sport I love in college with a team that has great potential. Coach Baker really made me feel welcome and part of the team on my visits. Being close to the beach isn’t a bad thing either!”
“Libby is one of the most improved players we have seen since our arrival at Florida Atlantic University,” Baker said. “Moving up through the ranks of her club, she played a pivotal role in TBU’s run to the USYSA National Championship last summer. She has all the tools to be an elite college player - size, athleticism, speed, skill and ability. She has grown in so many ways over the past two years - it’s a true to credit to Libby and her club for where she is today as a player. She can change the game with one run, one pass or one shot - exciting player to watch. Our fans will enjoy watching Libby play here at FAU.”
A first-team All-Conference player at Park Vista Community High School in Lake Worth, Carolynn Wotring took her club team to the State Cup Final Four and the Disney Showcase Championship in each of the last four years, winning the Disney Showcase all four seasons.
“I love that I will have a family away from home even if I’m just 30 minutes away!” Wotring said. “The atmosphere and environment is always positive and uplifting with a lot of spirit school-wide. I will receive tons of support from my coaching staff, teachers and my new teammates/friends! I was looking for a program where the coaching staff would affect me and my life off the field in a beneficial way… and I found that! I can’t wait to learn new lessons and create many new opportunities! I am so happy to be committed to FAU and start the next chapter in my life as an Owl!”
“Carolynn was one of our later commitments, but may become one of our most impactful,” Baker said. “She is best suited to play wide in the back, but can play centrally if called upon. As we have watched Carolynn play, we realized that her projection as a college player was very good. She uses both feet well, puts a premium on possession, strong in the air, has a long throw and is someone that really pushes herself. As we have built this program, we have needed young ladies that are committed to doing more not less, Carolynn typifies that phrase. We are excited about keeping one of the area’s best local prospects close to home at FAU.”