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Feb. 9, 2007

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State women’s soccer head coach Lori Walker has announced the 2007 signing class expected to join the Buckeye squad this fall. Broken down by position, the Scarlet and Gray will add two forwards, five midfielders, three defenders and three goalkeepers. Four signees hail from the state of Ohio, including two from Dublin.

Genna Brand and Laura Roberts are the two forwards, while the five midfielders include Alex Burzynski, Emily Esbrook, Courtney Jenkins, Abby Merrell and Ali Whitehurst. In the back for the Buckeyes are Lauren Beachy, Lauren Hallauer and Erin McLeish and in net are Mackenzie Gilmore, Lauren Pasquesi and Kristen Touché.

In all, this group has combined for four high school state championships, 11 high school conference titles and 27 club soccer crowns.

Capable of playing both in the midfield and up top, Lauren Beachy comes to Ohio State from Loveland, Ohio. Beachy was a two-year starter at Winton Woods High School in 2003 and 2004 as a midfielder before joining the Loveland High School squad for the 2005 and 2006 seasons where she was a forward. During her high school career, Beachy garnered several honors, including earning the 2006 National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) All-America and Scholar All-America accolades. A first-team all-state selection in 2006, Beachy also was the 2006 Fort Ancient Valley Conference (FAVC), the Cincinnati Enquirer and Southwest Ohio Player of the Year. A four-year MVP during her high school career, Beachy was the team captain in 2006.

Beachy and the Ohio Premier club team were six-time state cup champions and Under-17 regional semifinalists. She also was a five-time member of the Ohio South Olympic Development Program (ODP).

“Lauren is a fit, tireless working left-sided defender,” Walker said. “Her exceptional 1 vs. 1 defending, distribution and ability to get forward will provide us with a solid option in our backline next fall.”

Genna Brand gained her playing experience with Cape Henry Collegiate School, Beach Football Club Fyre and the Beach Football Club Majix. A native of Virginia Beach, Va., Brand is the leading scorer in CHC school history as a four-year letterwinner at forward from 2003-2006. She was named to the All-State team in 2006 and earned The Virginian Pilot All-Tidewater first-team honors in 2004, 2005 and 2006 to complement her All-TCIS (Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools) accolades (2003-2006). Named the 2003 Offensive MVP in 2003, Brand helped the CHC Dolphins win the TCIS championship. Two seasons later in 2005, Brand and CHC reclaimed the TCIS title.

Brand and the Beach FC Fyre were two-time Virginia state cup champions in 2002 and 2003. The Beach FC Majix team advanced to the state cup final four in 2005 and 2006. Brand has been a member of the ODP since 2000, playing for the district and state teams from 2000-2006 and the Region I team since 2003. Playing in the Maccabiah Games in Tel Aviv, Israel, in 2005, Brand also recently was selected to play with the Under-19 national pool in California for Inter-regionals in 2007. In the Maccabiah Games, Brand was the leading scorer, earning the Golden Boot, as the U-19 team won the gold medal.

“Genna is a crafty, creative goal-scoring forward,” Walker said. “She possesses a well-developed skill on the ball, as well as makes dangerous runs off the ball to get in great positions to score. We look for her to have immediate impact in our frontline.”

A native of Naperville, Ill., Alex Burzynski, spent her high school career at Neuqua Valley High School where she was a two-year starter in the midfield and two-time Upstate 8 All-Conference for the Wildcats her freshman and sophomore years. Concentrating on club soccer Burzynski did not play for Neuqua during her junior year and opted for early graduation so she could focus on training with the Buckeyes this spring. In 2004 and 2005, Burzynski and the Wildcats were the Upstate 8 Conference champions and the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) regional champions. Additionally, in 2005, Neuqua Valley was the IHSA super sectional and class AA state champions, while also owning the No. 1 high school NSCAA and Student Sports Soccer ranking in the nation.

As a member of the Eclipse Select club team, Burzynski scored the gamewinning goal for the squad in the 2006 United States Youth Soccer Association (USYSA) National Championship game. The Eclipse was voted the No. 1 girl’s soccer program in the country by Soccer America and the national soccer ranking. Eclipse also was the Illinois state champion from 2002-2006, the USYSA Region II champions in 2003 and 2006 and the USYSA Region II national league champions in 2003, 2004 and 2006.

Burzynski ODP’s participation includes playing on the Michigan 1989 state team in 2001 and 2002, the regional pool team in 2002 and the Illinois 1989 state squad from 2003-2005.

“Alex has a tremendous brain for the game of soccer; anticipating and reading the game at an advanced level,” Walker said. “Additionally, she has a great physical presence about her, good skill on the ball and is extremely dangerous in the air. These traits will prove useful, especially in the Big Ten Conference.”

Midfielder Emily Esbrook hails from Novi, Mich., where she was a four-year starter at Novi High School from 2004-2007. In 2006, she led her team to the state championship, while also playing club ball with the Michigan Hawks since 1999. She guided the Hawks to three state championships (2003, 2004 and 2005), including two USYSA Regional championships in 2004 and 2005. They also were the USYSA national runner-up in 2005.

Esbrook’s ODP experience has been extensive. She was on the Michigan State Team from 2001-2006, as well as a Region II Team member from 2002-2006, a member of the Under-15 National Team in 2004 and Under-17 National Pool from 2005-06.

“Emily is one of the top central midfield players in the country,” Walker said. “She is a tremendously skillful player with fantastic vision of the field, good range in long services and an ability to play a lethal final pass. We anticipate her having an impact immediately in our midfield as our “swing” midfielder.”

Goalkeeper Mackenzie Gilmore was a four-year starter at Saline High School in Saline, Mich. With the Hornets, Gilmore was first-team Southeastern All-Conference for three-consecutive seasons in 2004, 2005 and 2006, while helping the team to the Southeastern Conference championship in 2004 and 2005. She also was the all-district keeper in 2004 and 2005, as well as the all-state honorable mention Division I keeper in 2005. A two-time team captain in 2006 and 2007, Gilmore was a scholar-athlete award winner from 2004-2006.

With the Saline Impact club team, Gilmore was the 2006 and 2007 team captain. Her credentials also included posting a 9-0-1 record in 2005 and an 8-0-0 ledger in 2004 with the Under-19 Impact during their U-19 Premier League championship run during those two years. With a 2005 U-18 National Indoor Championship to her credit, Gilmore also helped the Impact to the Romeo Fest championship in 2004 as a member of the U-18 team and the 2005 title with the U-19 squad.

“Mack is a very technical goalkeeper with good hands and an ability to play well with both feet,” Walker said. “We look for her to compete for time in the goal during her freshman campaign.”

Defender Lauren Hallauer hails from Fairfax, Va., where she attended Robinson High School and was a three-year starter in 2004, 2006 and 2007. With the Rams, Hallauer earned all-district, all-region and all-state honors and was named team captain in 2007. With the FCV Rockets club team, Hallauer captained a team that advanced to the semifinals of the state cup in 2006 and she was selected as a member of the Top Drawer National Team of the month. In 2005, the Rockets were the U.S. club soccer regional champions, while during the 2004 season, the squad captured the Under-16 Region I Premier League championship. The Rockets also were the Washington Area Girls Soccer (WAGS) league runner-ups, Virginia state finalists and semifinalists in the Disney College Showcase. In Super Y League soccer, Hallauer was selected to participate in the 2005 National Camp in Cocoa, Fla.

“Lauren is a physically strong, athletic talent with solid speed,” Walker said. “She has an overwhelming presence in the air and long range on her services, which will all be weapons in our backline. We look for her to compete for a time right away at either outside or center back.”

Midfielder Courtney Jenkins is a local product, hailing from Dublin, Ohio, where she attended Dublin Coffman High School after also attending Fairfield High School. A four-year starter, Jenkins was the leading scorer her freshman year in 2003 at Fairfield and for her efforts earned all-city, all-district, third-team all-state and was the team MVP. She was named the team captain in her senior year in 2006 at Dublin Coffman and later earned the Ohio Capital Conference (OCC) Player of the Year honor and was named to the first-team all-state and all-city Big 12 rosters. During her time with the Shamrocks, Jenkins helped the squad to two runner-up finishes in the state championships. Jenkins also was a member of the Ohio Premier, Fairfield Mirage and Fairfield Fever club teams. With Ohio Premier, Jenkins won three state championships from 2004-2006 under former OSU assistant coach Jon Lipsitz and advanced to the regional semifinals in 2006. Additionally the squad was the 2006 Vegas Showcase Champions.

Jenkins ODP statistics include participating with the regional pool in 2002, the regional team from 2003-2005 and attending the Under-19 regional camp in 2006.

“CJ is an extremely fit, skilled player with impressive vision, work rate and distribution,” Walker said. “She has an uncanny ability to strike balls with power and precision, either in the run of play or on set pieces. Courtney will be resourceful and add much needed depth in our midfield.”

Fellow Dublin, Ohio, product Erin McLeish attended Dublin Scioto High School where she was a three-year starter as a defender. With The Irish, McLeish earned all-league (2004-2006) and all-district (2005) honors, in addition to being named the team MVP in 2006. In 2004, McLeish helped Dublin Scioto to the OCC league championship.

McLeish also participated with the Ohio Premier squad, which were state champions in 2001 and 2003. The OP team also was the U.S. Club Regional champions in 2005. McLeish also was a member of the 2002 and 2004 district and state teams.

“Erin is a strong, smart and composed defender, who also has great range in her services, has an impact on winning balls in the air and possesses good 1 vs. 1 defending skills,” Walker said. “She will compete for time as a center back.”

Abby Merrell is a native of Milwaukee, Wis., where she played the midfield at Homestead High School from 2003-2007. A fourth-generation Buckeye, Merrell led Homestead in assists in 2005 and 2006. She also helped the team advanced to the 2005 and 2006 sectional and regional finals, as well as qualify for the 2006 finals as the team captain.

Merrell and the FC Milwaukee club team captured the state championship from 2004-2007 and were regional semifinalists in 2005. The squad was ranked as high as third in the Midwest Regional League and 10th nationally. Merrell also was a member of the Wisconsin ODP team in 2005 and 2006.

“We are so happy to have Abby aboard; she is a fourth-generation Buckeye,” Walker said. “She is a tenacious player whose ability to win balls in the air, keep possession and distribute the ball will be an asset to our team. She will either play in the midfield or backline.”

Goalkeeper Lauren Pasquesi’s gained her soccer experience with the Sockers FC Chicago club in Palatine, Ill. Playing from 2002-2007 with the Under-12 to Under-17 squads, Pasquesi helped the team to an undefeated record at the WAGS and CASL Showcase tournaments in 2006. The squad also was Region II semifinalists and state cup semifinalists in 2005. Pasquesi’s additional club soccer credentials include assisting the team to a first-place finish at the WAGS 2004 B Flight and the FC Milwaukee Invitational.

Pasquesi also had four years of experience with the Illinois ODP team.

“Lauren is a smart and confident goalkeeper, who has good range in the box and a solid overall presence in the goal,” Walker said. “She will add depth to an already good goalkeeping group.”

Forward Laura Roberts joins Ohio State after playing with the Central Bucks West High School team, the FC Bucks Lightning and PDA Fury club teams and ODP squads. With the Central Bucks, Roberts started both as a forward and midfielder and has captained the team for two-consecutive seasons. In 2005 and 2006, she was named to the First-Team All-Intelligencer by The Intelligencer Record and won the Silver Boot award in 2005 for tallying the most assists. Roberts also was a 2004 and 2005 SOL First-Team All-League selection, helping the squad to the league championship during those two years. Central Bucks West also was the league, district I and PIAA Girls Soccer State champions in 2006.

With the FC Bucks Lightning squad, Roberts collected four Eastern Pennsylvania State championships (2000, 2002, 2004, 2005) and a Summer Directors League National championship in 2003. A member of the PDA Fury, Roberts and the Fury were USYSA National Champion Series finalists. Roberts’ ODP credentials include participating with the Region I U-88 team and playing with the Eastern Pennsylvania State team that won the 2005 Region I championship.

“Laura is a quick, dynamic forward with breakaway speed, whose strength is getting behind defenses and serving balls,” Walker said. “She has the ability to be dangerous with every possession. We look for her to wreak havoc on opponents either as a starter or an immediate reserve.”

Kristen Touché is another goalkeeper who will compete for time at the position this fall. A product of the Tucson Soccer Academy in Tucson, Ariz., Touché guided the squad to an Arizona State runner-up finish in 2005 as a captain. She also was a captain in 2006. Tucson reached the Regional IV semifinals in 2004, while also finishing second in the Arizona State championships in 2004. At Salpointe Catholic High School, Touché lettered all four years, captaining the team in 2006 and 2007. She was first-team All-Southern Arizona in 2004 and 2005 and won Junior Athlete of the Year in 2006. Touché also played for the Arizona State ODP pool in 2001-02 and 2005-06.

“Kristen is an athletic, shot-stopping goalkeeper,” Walker said. “She also has good range on her services and a strong personality which enables her to lead and organize. She will compete for time as a freshman.”

Midfielder Ali Whitehurst is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, where she played for the St. Ursula Academy and Classic Hammer club team. Whitehurst was a three-year starter for the Bulldogs, playing both the forward and midfield positions. She also saw action with the Ohio South ODP team (2004-2006).

“Ali is a hard-working, athletic talent who comes from a strong club background,” Walker said. “Her talents range from a strong ability on the ball, great vision and a tough defensive work rate. We look for her to compete for time in our midfield.”