Soccer Adds Five Recruits on Signing Day
BATON ROUGE – National Junior College Player of the Year Nicole Howard of Lewis & Clark Community College headlines Wednesday’s National Signing Day festivities for the LSU Soccer program as the Tigers add five recruits to their four January enrollees to put the finishing touches on their Class of 2016 ahead of next season.
The National Soccer Coaches Association of America recently presented Howard with her National Junior College Player of the Year award in January in conjunction with its national convention in Baltimore.
Howard headlines five National Signing Day additions for the program as she joins midfielders Lea Barnes (Bethesda, Maryland), Sara Funderburk (Bossier City, Louisiana) and Courtney Henderson (Rogers, Minnesota), along with defender Ellie Weber (Springfield, Virginia) as the final pieces of the puzzle in LSU’s Class of 2016 competing for the first time next season.
The Tigers will feature nine new faces during the 2016 season as four other recruits recently enrolled for the start of the spring semester. Former Florida State goalkeeper Caroline Brockmeier (Tallahassee, Florida), former Oregon attacker Zoe Higgins (Boring, Oregon), Australian Under-20 international midfielder Caitlin Cantrill (Canberra, Australia) and high school goalkeeper Emma Grace Goldman (Murfreesboro, Tennessee) all reported to campus in January ahead of the start of spring training in the coming weeks.
“We have a good group of players signing today to go along with those already enrolled for the spring semester. It’s another good step forward for our team as we get ready for next season,” said LSU head coach Brian Lee. “It was really important for us to address some specific needs we had in our team with this class, and we’re excited about the profile and potential of these young women joining us today.”
A two-time NSCAA First-Team Junior College All-American at Lewis & Clark Community College, Howard ended the 2015 season as the nation’s top scorer in the junior college ranks while netting 40 goals and serving up 20 assists for 100 points en route to being named the NSCAA National Junior College Player of the Year.
Howard kicked off her collegiate career by scoring 27 goals and 18 assists for 72 points as a freshman in 2014, finishing with 67 goals, 38 assists and 172 points in her two seasons at the Godfrey, Illinois, college.
Funderburk is the lone Louisiana product to join the Tigers this recruiting cycle as she will soon graduate with honors from Parkway High School in Bossier City. Funderburk is one of the top talents in the state as she has scored 72 goals and dished out 56 assists over the last three seasons while competing with Parkway High School, including a staggering 36 goals and 29 assists in her senior season in 2015-16.
Funderburk has experience at club level while competing with Shreveport United, Baton Rouge Soccer Club and the Dallas Sting Under-17s of the Elite Clubs National League in recent seasons. She has also trained with the Louisiana State Olympic Development Program Team and been a member of the Region III ODP player pool during her youth career.
An all-around athlete, Funderburk is also a state champion cross country runner and track star during her decorated prep career at Parkway High School while being nominated for the Louisiana Gatorade Girls’ Cross Country Runner of the Year in 2014-15. She was crowned the Class 5A state champion in cross country in the fall of 2014 and 3,200 meters on the track in the spring of 2015 a year ago.
The Tigers have filled out their Class of 2016 with elite prospects from across the country as Barnes, Henderson and Weber are among the top recruits in their respective states this recruiting season.
Henderson signs with the Tigers from Rogers High School in Rogers, Minnesota, where she has earned a pair of all-state selections in each of the last two seasons as one of the state’s top scorers at the Class 2A level. It is a prep career in which Henderson helped lead Rogers High School to the Class 2A state tournament for the first time in school history in 2015.
A decorated defender at Lake Braddock Secondary School in Virginia, Weber will finish off her high school career this spring while serving as team captain prior to her arrival in Baton Rouge in the summer.
Weber emerged as one of the top prospects in the state of Virginia during her junior season in 2015 while earning second-team all-state, first-team all-conference and first-team all-region honors as one of her school’s starting outside backs. It was a 2015 season in which she was also named to the Washington Post All-Metro Second Team and TopDrawerSoccer.com Spring All-Star Team in the state of Virginia.
Weber has played club soccer with Prince Williams Soccer, Inc., which she has helped lead to such tournament championships as the PDA Showcase in 2014 and the CASL and WAGS showcases in 2014 and 2015.
A product of Academy of the Holy Cross in Bethesda, Maryland, Barnes has been a First-Team All-Independent School Leagues performer and all-metro selection during her prep career while also leading her club team McLean Force to a pair of state cup titles in her age group in 2013 and 2015.
With their 2016 recruiting class now signed on the dotted line, the Tigers look forward to the start of spring training in the coming weeks as they are set to kick off their spring exhibition season on Friday, March 11, with a home match against in-state rival Northwestern State. Check back with LSUsports.net for a full report on LSU’s spring exhibition schedule later this week.