Women’s soccer reloads with seven recruits

GVL Archive / Taylor Raymond
Girls head soccer coach Dave DiIanni instructs his team. DiIanni has seven new recruits lined up to join the teams ranks.

GVL Archive / Taylor Raymond Girls head soccer coach Dave DiIanni instructs his team. DiIanni has seven new recruits lined up to join the teams ranks.

Jon Adamy

It is said that defense wins championships, but for the Grand Valley State University women’s soccer team, signing another top-notch recruiting classes certainly can’t hurt.

After winning back-to-back NCAA Division II National Championships, the soccer team is adding seven recruits to its roster. Of the seven, five are from Michigan and two hail from Canada. GVSU head coach Dave DiIanni said that this is one of the bigger recruiting classes from the past few years, which will help alleviate depth issues the team has faced due to injuries in previous seasons.

One unique aspect of this year’s group of recruits is that they all come from schools that have provided GVSU with talent in the past.

“It’s the first class that we’ve had multiple student athletes coming from high schools or clubs that we’ve had success with recruiting in the past,” said DiIanni. “I think that that bodes for why some of them signed with Grand Valley because maybe their teammates in the past that are in the program currently are having a good experience.”

An example is Portage Central High School forward Charlie Socia, who follows in the footsteps of GVSU freshman midfielder Shelby Humphries and senior defender and recent Division II player of the year Jenna Wenglinski, both of whom signed with Grand Valley after playing for Portage Central. Socia said she is excited to get the opportunity to play with Humphries for another three years, and there was no competition with Grand Valley when she made her college decision.

“Grand Valley was always my first choice,” said Socia. “I knew I wanted to come here since the beginning of high school, but when I was asked to play I was really excited.”

Though Socia was the leading goal scorer in Division I high school women’s soccer in both of her last two seasons, playing college soccer was not necessarily something that Socia expected to do early on in her high school career.

“I didn’t really think I was able to play college soccer,” said Socia. “I really wanted to, but I didn’t really think I was like at that level. But I knew either way I wanted to come to Grand Valley.”

Lake Orion High School defender Alyssa Wesley said she also had no problems figuring out where she wanted to go to college. Wesley has a family connection to GVSU with her uncle GVSU head coach Ric Wesley serving as the coach for the men’s basketball team.

Wesley said that she has already been able to get to know the players on the team as well as the rest of her incoming recruiting class by spending time at Grand Valley and being around the team.

“Knowing the girls is one thing on a personal level, but being able to play with them, their talent is so high it’s something else,” said Wesley. “Something I’ve never experienced.”

DiIanni said that it is a competitive situation for athletes to be chosen to play for the team, but described the process of recruiting as a two way street.

“In recruiting it’s about building relationships and finding the right fit for each student athlete,” said DiIanni. “So as much as it is the coach or the institution looking for the right player that fits their program based on personality and skill level, it’s also about the student athlete finding the right fit in the university.”

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