BOCA RATON, Fla. – The Florida Atlantic University women’s soccer team and Head Coach Patrick Baker are able to announce the first batch of newcomers for Wednesday’s 2018 National Signing Day.
As of this point, the Owls have six freshmen headed to Boca Raton. They run the gamut of positional needs, with five coming from in-state programs and clubs, and another hailing from Minnesota.
“The FAU women’s soccer team got better today and we are excited for the six young ladies that will be joining our program,” said Head Coach Patrick Baker. “Signing Day is a special day each year and we feel this class improves us in many areas. From the back to the front of our system, we are adding quality pieces that fulfill our wants and needs. These six young ladies are dedicated students and have strong academic backgrounds. The recruiting class also has achieved great individual and team success in the game of soccer. Each line of our system has an addition - in goal, backline, midfield and at forward. Recruiting good people has been a pillar of ours since 2013 and this year is no different - our foundation is strong and this class adds another building block. We are excited for the 2018 fall season and feel with our returners and this year’s recruiting class, we have the potential for a tremendous fall.”
The six announced on Wednesday morning are:
- Madison Davenport – Midfielder – Jacksonville, Florida – Christ’s Church Academy – Florida Elite Soccer Academy
- Emma Grissom – Midfielder/Defender – Cantonment, Florida – Tate High School – Gulf Coast Texans
- Hailey Landrus – Defender – Andover, Minnesota – Anoka High School – Maplebrook Club
- Jenna Ortiz – Midfielder/Forward – St. Johns Florida – Creekside High School – Florida Elite Soccer Academy
- Taylor Smith – Defender – Apopka, Florida – Apopka High School – Orlando City ECNL
- Cassidy Wasdin – Goalkeeper – Jacksonville, Florida – Bolles High School – Armada Youth Academy
Here are more details on the incoming class:
Davenport was named Christ Church’s Academy MVP in 2015-16, and their Best Attacking Player the year prior. She is part of a team that had the school’s highest GPA, and she held a 4.85 as a junior. She also was honored with the Ronald Reagan Student Leader Award and with the Distinguished Christian High School Student Award.
Why Davenport chose FAU: “I toured many campuses and was convinced that out of state would be for me. I heard about FAU from coaches, friends and schoolmates, and even attended an ID Camp. I walked the campus, and still my heart was steering me out of state. After several months of campus tours, I decided to give FAU another visit. This was a detailed tour, and something that day began to click. While driving down the paths and roads encased by palm trees, and taking in the smell of saltwater with every breath, I began picturing my future self living, learning and playing soccer at FAU. I could not stop smiling, and this was the day I knew FAU was exactly where I wanted to be. I fall more in love with the campus and Boca every time I am there, and I am ecstatic to be given this opportunity. Go Owls!”
Coach Baker on Davenport: “Madi is one of the best attacking midfielders coming out of the state of Florida this year. She is tricky on the ball, has very good vision, is an excellent passer and can score goals in a myriad of different ways. We love midfielders who can be consistent in their play and she not only does that, but can make some magic happen in the final third. Madison embodies what we are looking for in our student-athletes and has a very promising future here at FAU. Our 2018 midfield will be the most talented collection of players in that area of the field that we have had since our arrival.”
Grissom was Tate High School’s Offensive Player of the Year and a three-time member of the FHSAA All-State Team. She broke the school record for most goals scored in a season with 32 and was Florida District 1-4A Player of the Year for 2017-18. For her club team, at the Disney Showcase, they were Qualifier Champion in 2015 and Third Place in 2017. Off the pitch, she is No. 13 in her class with a GPA of 3.89 (unweighted) and 4.74 (weighted), and was a member of the Florida All-Academic Team (2016-18) and the National Honor Society, as well as being vice president of the Science Honor Society.
Why Grissom chose FAU: “When I first visited Florida Atlantic, it felt like home. So many things exuded a charm that pulled me in: the beach, the atmosphere, the people. Everyone there made me feel so welcomed, and I knew that I’d have a great four years if I attended FAU. Seeing how Coach Baker ran the soccer program is what really made me committed to FAU, and hearing from him and the rest of the coaching staff made me extra excited to play soccer at the collegiate level.”
Coach Baker on Grissom: “Emma is a terrific athlete, student and person. She has a special blend of skill and athleticism which will help her create a very successful career here at FAU. Her playmaking ability and soccer IQ stood out to us the very first time we saw her play. Through her development over the last eight months, we see her being a pivotal part of our midfield from the very start. She makes the game easy for those around her and is a very good passer of the ball. Emma loves to compete and we can’t wait to add her tough mentality to the team in 2018.”
Landrus served as her Anoka High School team captain, was awarded Ms. Defense, and was chosen both 2017 Minnesota All-State and All-Conference. She was also Honorable Mention All-Conference twice. Her teams have had much success as well, with Anoka making state in 2014, and her MapleBrook Club team winning state three times (2014, 2015, 2017). She will graduate with a 3.6 GPA and numerous trimesters of Honor Roll achievement.
Why Landrus chose FAU: “I committed to Florida Atlantic University for many reasons, one of them being because I adore the warm weather. Living in Minnesota for the last 17 years and enduring the cold has made me really favor the warmth and I want that year-round. I also love the location of the school, it is in a convenient area where I can get access to almost anything and the best part, it is only three miles from the beach! The feeling I got from being on campus was warm and welcoming making it feel like home. Finally, being introduced to Coach Baker and spending a day-and-a-half with him really sealed the deal for me as I really respect him as a person and is who I can see myself being coached by for the next four years.”
Coach Baker on Landrus: “Hailey is a quality left-footed defensive player who we think will fit right into the way we defend and attack out of that back. Her athleticism, dedication to fitness, and ability to connect the game has impressed us from the very beginning. Hailey is in a great soccer environment right now and we are excited to help her excel as an FAU Owl. She solves areas of the field and the lines of oppositions at a high level with her passing and is a good 1v1 defender in the wide area. Hailey will be a welcomed addition to the defense that continues to be one of the best in C-USA.”
Ortiz was team captain for both Creekside High and Florida Elite. Her Creekside team was Class 4A state runners-up in 2017, participating in the Final 4 State Cup. She also competed for varsity track and field and on the cross country team. A member of the A&B Honor Roll, she is also involved in the National Honor Society, American Sign Language Honor Society and Rho Kappa.
Why Ortiz chose FAU: “The moment I stepped on to the Florida Atlantic campus, I fell in love. Right away I could see myself really enjoying campus life because of the beautiful campus, surrounding area, and welcoming atmosphere; It felt like home. I told my club soccer coach, Terry Foley, about my interest in the school and he helped me through my journey to commit. Coach Patrick (Baker) and Coach Laura (Jackson) are both awesome, and I cannot wait to start my life and my soccer journey at Florida Atlantic University.”
Coach Baker on Ortiz: “Jenna is a versatile player with a tremendous work ethic and can play a number of different positions for us. While recruiting her, we saw a relentless player that didn’t just stop working off the ball, but would make intelligent decisions once she was in possession. We believe Jenna will battle and push the players not only in her class, but our returning players as well. We look forward to having her here at Florida Atlantic University and know she will represent us well in our ‘Live Like Champions.’ ”
Smith was voted MVP three times at Apopka High, and also was a recipient of the school’s Coaches’ Award. Additionally, she was named All-Metro and All-Conference. She ranks among the top 20 percent of her graduating class, holding a 4.3 GPA, and is a member of the National Art Honors Society.
Why Smith chose FAU: “When I first stepped on campus, I instantly fell in love with FAU. I love the beach and the Boca area. It’s only three hours from home which is a plus as well. FAU has a home-like environment that I am very excited to be a part of.”
Coach Baker on Smith: “Taylor is a very talented student-athlete and one of the better defenders in our state. She excels in the classroom and on the soccer field, and we are very excited to have her joining her club teammate Sammy Vitols at FAU. Taylor is that prototype outside back most people are looking for: tall, athletic, good speed, can get up and down the flank, and play both sides of the ball. She is one of our first commitments in this class and helped shape it to become one of our best groups. Our fans will enjoy watching Taylor play and feel she will have a wonderful career here at FAU.”
Wasdin tended goal as part of three FHSAA Class1A state champions (2015, 2016, 2017), and the 2017 St. Johns team was ranked No. 1 by USA Today/NSCAA. She will graduate from Bolles School as a member of the National Honor Society, recipient of the AP Scholar Award and of the Bright Futures Florida Academic Scholars Award.
Why Wasdin chose FAU: “The first time I walked on campus I knew that FAU was where I wanted to be. The coaches, the team, the facilities, and just the overall environment was a community that I knew I wanted to be a part of. It is something special and I look forward to growing as a person and as a player. I’m so blessed and excited for the opportunity to continue playing soccer at the next level and look forward to officially being an Owl!”
Coach Baker on Wasdin: “Cassidy is a talented young lady and we are excited to have her in Boca Raton for the next four years. In our recruitment cycle of goalkeepers, we needed an impactful one in this class and feel Cassidy fits that mold for us. She has good size and presence in goal, makes the routine saves and then has the capability to make that special save as well. Cassidy’s kicking game has continued to improve and her growth this past year at Armada has been enjoyable to watch. She along with current goalkeepers Jennifer Ocampo and Brianna Waggoner makes for a very talented corps of goalkeepers for years to come.”
The Owls’ season will begin in mid-August, with this influx of newcomers joining the squad as the fall semester begins. The first spring match for returnees is this upcoming Friday, Feb. 9, hosting the University of Victoria.