The upcoming fall season will put the Francis Marion University (FMU) women’s soccer team to the test,and to help meet their goal, the Patriots have signed five high school seniors and added three other players to the team.
The five new signees are Kelly Anthony, Allie Duckworth, Caroline Edmonds, Bre Henderson and Tori Whigham.
Head coach Frank Pitt said he is looking forward to what the girls will bring to the team.
“All of the girls are good people,” Pitt said. “For me, that is a major part of having a good team.”
Anthony, a forward from Woodstock, Ga., racked up a total of 10 goals and seven assists during her senior year at Etowah High School.
Pitt said she has good control with the ball and also has “good vision” on the field.
Along with Anthony, Henderson will be joining the team as a forward.
Henderson, a leading goal-scorer from Germantown, Md., played for the Maryland Rush ’93 Club, which was ranked No. 1 in the state of Maryland.
Assistant coach Brandon Heembrock said that Henderson will bring “athleticism” to the team.
Whigham, a forward/midfielder from Ocean City, Md., had a senior career of 17 goals and 11 assists.
Pitt said that Whigham was very “versatile and athletic” on the field.
Proven by the 42 goals she scored during her junior and senior years,Edmonds, a midfielder from Evans, Ga., is recognized as a high goal-scorer.
“I’m thinking of her as someone who sets up goals,” Pitt said.
Pitt explained that while watching Edmonds play, he really liked the way she crossed the ball and was impressed by her skill as a high school player.
Duckworth, a defender from Rome, Ga., received the award of Most Valuable Player for her high school team.
Duckworth will try to fill the void of Hoekstra, a senior who surpassed NCAA eligibility in soccer.
Along with the five signees, Dani Velasquez, Kim Newton and Kylie Allen will also have their debut season with the Patriots this fall.
Velasquez, a sophomore at FMU,trained with the team in the spring. However, this will be her first year playing on the team. Heembrock said her speed will be a great asset.
“Dani is very good technically.” Heembrock said, “She does a very good job in training.”
Newton is a “walk on” freshman that will be playing as a goalie in the fall.
Heembrock said Newton will add “depth” to the team.
Last season, the Patriots only had one goalkeeper, Taylor O’Berry, which added some stress to the team.
“Taylor had some injuries that she had to work through last season,” Heembrock said.
Allen is a sophomore who transferred from the University of South Carolina – Beaufort.Allen will work with Duckworth to fill the place of Hoekstra, who played the center back position for the Patriots for four years.
“One of those two is going to fill that slot,” Pitt said.
Pitt explained that in soccer, the center back and center mid positions are similar to the quarterback position in football. He said that it will be hard to replace Hoekstra’s athleticism, a quality which is very important in soccer.
The Patriots will work to beat their record of 7-9-1 from last year. Their season kicks off Aug. 26 against Charleston Southern.