Special to the News-Telegram
COMMERCE – A&M-Commerce head soccer coach Neil Piper recently announced the seven incoming freshmen that comprise the 2013 recruiting class. Each of these future Lions will begin competing for A&M-Commerce this fall.
Among those listed was former Sulphur Springs goalkeeper Emalee McMillan.
"Overall, this recruiting class is very dangerous, " said Piper. "Each player brings us something we were missing last year. We have added depth at goalkeeper, size at midfield and natural goal scorers up front. I am very excited to get the season started. With the return of all our injured players from last season, 2013 looks to be very promising."
Three forwards will be looked upon to add to the Lions' scoring threat, highlighted by Dani Chantry, Savannah Henderson and Jessica Tait. All three have had explosive prep careers as Henderson was named the unanimous All-East Texas Player of the Year after logging 75 goals as a senior at Mabank, bringing her career total to just shy of 140. Chantry was the District 9-4A Offensive Player of the Year from Frisco Liberty, adding 22 goals of her own, while Tait was a key player for the British Colleges National Team in 2012, hailing from York, England.
One of the largest holes on the A&M-Commerce roster was at the goalkeeper position, a gap Piper fills with a pair of talented freshmen between the pipes. Callie Ballard was a two-time all-district selection from Richmond Travis that tallied 17 shutouts with a 0.79 goals against average in the last two seasons while Emalee McMillan was another first team all-district honoree from nearby Sulphur Springs, posting 385 saves and 22 shutouts during her prep career.
The seven incoming freshmen will be looked to bolster a talented A&M-Commerce roster which was riddled by injuries in 2012. Piper is hoping the combination of veteran leadership and young talent will help lead to a turnaround season for the Lions in 2013, which begins Friday, Sept. 6th against nationally-ranked Fort Lewis.
5-6 • Goalkeeper
Sulphur Springs, Texas
Sulphur Springs HS Prior to A&M-Commerce: Three year letter winner at Sulphur Springs High School … Finished her prep career with 385 saves and 22 shutouts … Helped lead the Wildcats to a playoff appearance in 2013 … First team all-district selection as a junior … Captured second team all-district honors as a senior while picking up team MVP honors … All-district honorable mention selection as a sophomore … Three-time Academic All-District honoree … Coached by Jesus DeLeon … Member of Liverpool FC America club team … National Honor Society member.
Personal: Born March 1, 1995 in San Antonio … Daughter of Brian and Janene McMillan … Plans to major in mathematics.
Piper's thoughts: "Emalee is a local talent who is very good technically. She has great hands and gets down low very quickly."
5-2 • Forward
Frisco, Texas (Liberty H.S.)
Prior to A&M-Commerce: Four year letter-winner at Frisco Liberty High School … Helped lead the Lady Redhawks to the regional quarterfinals in 2013 … Named the District 9-4A Offensive Player of the Year, finishing with 22 goals on the season … Named second team all-district as a junior and was honorable mention all-district as both a freshman and sophomore … Two-time team offensive MVP … All-State Academic Team selection … Coached by Cissy Blaisure … Also lettered three times in softball … Member of the Texas Football Club from 2009-12 and Andromeda Football Club from 2012-13.
Personal: Born December 3, 1994 … Daughter of Marcus and Sue Kelly … Undecided on collegiate major.
Piper's thoughts: "Dani is a natural goal scorer. She is very crafty in the 18-yard box and can score in a myriad of ways."
5-11 • Goalkeeper
Richmond, Texas (Travis H.S.)
Prior to A&M-Commerce: Three year letter-winner at William B. Travis High School … Two-time first team All-District 23-5A selection … Named team MVP as a junior and senior … Tallied 17 shutouts during her career in 33 games played with a 0.79 goals against average … Also scored six goals and five assists in one season as a forward … Two-time team captain … Coached by Melissa Fox … Also lettered once in volleyball … Spent the last four years as a member of Eclipse Soccer Club team …. Also spent six years as a member of Fusion Soccer Club (2004-09) and four years with Sugarland Soccer Club (2000-04).
Personal: Born May 31, 1995 … Daughter of John Ballard and Marti Wilhite … Collegiate major is undecided.
Piper's thoughts: "Callie is a very tall and athletic goalkeeper. She is an imposing figure in goal and is very good in the air."
5-4 • Midfielder
Justin, Texas (Northwest H.S.)
Prior to A&M-Commerce: Four year letter-winner and starter at Justin Northwest High School … Second team All-District 4-5A selection … Helped lead the Texans to the 2011 5A playoffs … Coached by Lincoln Hunt … Member of D'Feeters Soccer club … Also spent three years with the Dallas Texans Soccer club from 2010-12.
Personal: Born December 7, 1994 … Daughter of Curtis and Kay Cannon … Plans to pursue a major in interdisciplinary studies.
Piper's thoughts: "Ally is a technically sound player. She is very good at keeping possession and getting the ball to the right places."
5-4 • Forward
Mabank, Texas (Mabank H.S.)
Prior to A&M-Commerce: Four year letter-winner at Mabank High School … Unanimous All-East Texas Player of the Year in 2013 … Two-time District Offensive Most Valuable Player … Helped lead the Lady Panthers to the District 31-3A title in 2013, advancing to the regional semifinals … Set the school record with 75 goals as a senior, one year after tallying 63 as a junior, including six in a game … Two-time All-East Texas selection … All-District Newcomer of the Year … Academic All-District honoree … Coached by Jeff Downs.
Personal: Born August 30, 1994 … Daughter of Randy and Kimberly Henderson … Collegiate major is undecided.
Piper's Thoughts: "Savannah is a goal-scoring machine. She had a great high school career in East Texas and we hope that carries over to A&M-Commerce. Savannah is a very hard working, blue-collar forward that is going to cause defenders problems for years to come."
6-0 • Midfielder
Arlington, Texas (Martin H.S.)
Prior to A&M-Commerce: Two year letter-winner and starter at Arlington Martin High School … Helped lead the Warriors to the District 3-5A title, advancing to the regional quarterfinals … First team all-district selection as a senior, being named the Defensive MVP … Honorable mention all-district as a junior … Notched five goals as a defender during her prep career … Academic All-State selection … Coached by Ruth Knight … Member of the Polaris White club team since 2006 … Tallied a handful of academic accolades, including graduating cum laude and being a member of the National Society of High School Scholars.
Personal: Born October 7, 1994 … Daughter of Harry and Debbie Phillips … Plans to major in biological science.
Piper's Thoughts: "Ashley is a very tall and athletic player. She will be playing in the middle. She is good in the air and has a pretty throw-in."
5-5 • Forward
York, England (Barlby Primary)
Prior to A&M-Commerce: Key player for Barlby Community Primary School in North Yorkshire, England … Helped lead the team to a second-place finish in the College League in 2011-12 … Selected for British Colleges National Team in 2012 … Member of Sheffield Wednesday Women's club team from 2011-12 … Member of FA Centre of Excellence club team from 2005-10 … Also suited up for Middlesborough Ladies from 2012-13 … Coached by Jamie Rank.
Personal: Born April 1, 1995 in Chatham, England … Daughter of Simon Tait and Helen Dews … Undecided on collegiate major.
Piper's thoughts: "Jessica is what you want in a typical striker. She has pretty good pace and is very creative around the goal. She is technically gifted and plays the game without blinders on.
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