Maintaining the dynasty: GVSU soccer inks 15 new recruits on National Signing Day
With the conclusion of National Signing Day on Wednesday, Feb. 7, Laker fans finally got the chance to see the new faces who will impact our sports programs for the next four years.
But to Grand Valley State soccer head coach Jeff Hosler, National Signing Day was especially important for a dynasty that welcomed 15 new players to the ranks of this prestigious program.
GVSU soccer is no stranger to the National Championship scene. But during the past fall season, the Lakers lost in the Elite Eight to No. 1 ranked Central Missouri, ending their season on a bitter note. However, GVSU lost much more than just a game. With the graduation of seven seniors, the team now has to fill crucial positions, including that of former forward Gabriella Mencotti, who scored 30 goals this past season and 29 the season prior.
“We’ve been telling our returners the same thing we’ve told our recruiting class,” Hosler said. “Everyone has got to do a little bit more to make up for the loss of 30 goals.”
Hosler had time to prepare to recruit this incoming class as he knew he would lose some of his best players due to graduation. His recruiting philosophy did not have anything to do with the personnel he lost this year. Instead, it was all about talent. With that mindset, GVSU recruited the best players available among high school and transfer students.
“We like versatile players capable of playing multiple positions (and adapting) their roles to best fit our group," Hosler said.
Although this group is talented, Hosler knows the team may be lacking experience. The roster for the upcoming season will be largely composed of first- and second-year players, while there will only be one junior and four seniors.
Hosler did get four transfers who already have a year of college experience under their belts. Among the transfer recruits are Caitie Baron, a midfielder from Xavier University; Tokyo native Riko Sagara; defender Sydney O’Donnell from Vanderbilt University; and Olivia Trombley from Michigan State.
"I’m excited about that group,” Hosler said. “The transfers and the 2018 class counts for half of our team.”
Hosler is especially looking forward to working with Sagara, a Japanese international player whose soccer IQ stands out to Hosler. The dynamic midfielder led her Japanese club in the National Tournament four consecutive seasons and led the Grand Rapids FC to a National Championship. Hosler expects his players to learn a lot from her experience on the biggest stages.
Hosler is also looking forward to the incoming 2018 high school class. Three forwards had already committed to joining GVSU next season, including Greta Deloach (Grosse Pointe, Michigan); Chantel Carranza (St. Charles, Illinois); and Madeline Becker (Ada, Michigan).
Another big recruit for GVSU is also international, from Haiti. Darline Radamaker is a striker who already has two international caps under her belt. The 18-year-old striker will be a major asset for the team and will help the younger players with her experience.
“This group is working really hard,” Hosler said. “We’re going to be a young group, but a group that works hard, that’s motivated and that is getting along. You combine that chemistry with that energy, we have the potential to do something special.”
Hosler signed 11 high schoolers to his team. Although things may be different with the departure of key players, the expectations are still high for the young group, and the workload will be as heavy as the expectations.
“We can’t take any shortcuts, any days off with this group,” Hosler said. “We have to be at our best in training every day, and the results will follow.”