Feb. 10, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio –– The Ohio State women’s soccer team has picked up nine members for its 2014 recruiting class, head coach Lori Walker announced Monday.

Five of the recruits come from Ohio (Nya Cason, Sydney Dudley, Sammy Edwards, Caitlyn Patton and Brynn Schlemitz), two are from California (Kennedy Kraft and Emma Wangsness) and one each from Arizona (Nikki Walts) and North Carolina (Gracin Palmer). The class balances three midfielders, two defenders, two defenders/forwards and two forwards.

“These nine players join our Buckeye family with great ambition to succeed,” Walker said. “Our staff worked tirelessly to find the right players who can win conference titles and national championships. Our recruiting coordinator, Jason Goodson, added strong ties from west coast clubs that understand competition at the highest level. The class blends youth national team experience as well as multiple national championships.

The Ohio State University has deep traditions of excellence and there’s no room for average in this program. What I love about this class from top to bottom is their relentless willingness to work their tails off to find a way to help their teams win. We were young this past fall starting eight freshmen and sophomores by the end of season, but I am confident starters will emerge from this freshmen class. As our conference expands, it is critical we have depth and experience at every position. We are going to hit the ground running with our first four matches of the season being against four ACC Teams (Wake Forest, North Carolina, Duke and Virginia Tech). That alone speaks volumes to the belief we have in this class and in our team, not only for next season but beyond.”

The newest version of Buckeyes had many reasons to come to Ohio State. For Kennedy Kraft, the combination of excellence in academics and athletics made Ohio State an easy choice.

“Picking the right college is one of the biggest decisions a teenager can make,” Kraft said. “By choosing The Ohio State University, I have dedicated my next four years to hard work on the field and in the classroom, and to the legacy that many have laid before me in the traditions of the school and athletic programs. Making the decision to go to Ohio State may have been one of the biggest decisions in my life, but it was also one of the easiest.”

For Sammy Edwards, the decision also was an easy one but because of the face Ohio State always been in her blood.

“A big reason I started looking at Ohio State was because my mother, father, and sister graduated from there which has made me a buckeye fan since the day I could walk,” Edwards said. “As excited as my family is that I am going to Ohio State, they also did not pressure me into this decision. They wanted me to make this decision on my own which I very much did. Ohio State is a huge school so I knew there would be amazing opportunities there for me and my academic career, so that was not a problem at all. It was pretty clear what I wanted. When walking around campus it feels normal and my fit. I am more than excited to attend next year.”

In the case of Sydney Dudley, the people around the program stood out and made her feel Ohio State was the perfect fit.

“I chose to attend The Ohio State University because I love the campus, team and coaches,” Dudley said. “I always wanted to play in the Big Ten because it is a competitive conference. I also like that Ohio State is a big school and has a lot of majors because I still don’t know what I want to major in. I chose Ohio State because I feel comfortable on campus and I felt at home every time I came to visit.”

Nikki Walts echoed Dudley’s sentiments.

“Once I first stepped onto the Ohio State campus, I had a feeling that’s where I wanted to spend the next four years of my life,” Walts added. “Not only was the campus beautiful, but the environment was welcoming. When I sat down with Coach Walker and Coach Goodson and heard what they had to offer me as a player, I knew right there and then I wanted to be Buckeye. Listening to Coach Walker’s knowledge of the game and her philosophy made me excited to know I found a coach with the same mentality I have. I believe as a player my skills and understanding of the game will grow, not only because of the coaches, but because of the types of players representing the soccer team.”

A look at the Buckeyes who will be stepping foot on campus for the 2014 season:

Nya Cason – Defender/Forward – Worthington, Ohio
Ohio Premier; Thomas Worthington High School

Cason has six years of club experience with Ohio Premier under the direction of Chris King and Matt Ogden … lettered two years at Thomas Worthington High School … a two-year ODP member … played her freshman and sophomore years of high school at Thomas Worthington and was the second-leading scorer as a freshman … also lettered two years in basketball … enjoys working out, making ceramics, spending time with friends and family and watching football and basketball … an honor roll member and scholar-athlete at Thomas Worthington … daughter of Rodriguez and Michelle Cason … has two older siblings, Torrey and Ezra.

Coach Lori Walker“Nya is an in-state product of the highly-successful Ohio Premier Soccer Club. She is a player blessed with unrivaled speed and has a goal-scorers nose for the net. Nya will find herself competing and playing alongside one of the most athletic and dangerous front lines in the conference next season. Given her amazing athletic attributes, Nya also is versatile enough to contribute in next year’s backline.”

Sydney Dudley – Defender – Loveland, Ohio
Ohio Elite; Loveland High School

Dudley has 11 years of club experience and started all four years at Loveland High School … a three-year member of Ohio Elite and eight-year member of Cincinnati Soccer Alliance … helped Ohio Elite, led by Tim Lesiak and Doug Bracken, to a sixth-place finish in the ECNL finals in 2012 and qualified for the ECNL playoffs while leading the team in scoring in 2013 … first team All-Ohio as a senior and second team All-Ohio as a junior … Eastern Cincinnati Conference Player of the Year last two seasons … four-time all-conference … started 74-consecutive games while tallying 33 career goals and 26 assists … also named honorable mention all-conference as a freshman on the Loveland basketball team … enjoys watching movies and hanging out with friends … National Honor Society member … daughter of Dan and Karen Dudley … has two older siblings, Jackson and Carson.

Coach Lori Walker“Sydney is the kind of soccer junkie that I love to coach! She is willing to play anywhere on the field if her abilities can help her team win. She comes to us from Ohio Elite, where she orchestrates play from out wide and in the middle. Sydney has both the technical ability and tactical insight needed to influence the outcome of any match. She should challenge for a contributing role right from the start as she’s a player that has the entire staff excited for next season.”

Sammy Edwards – Forward – Dublin, Ohio
Ohio Premier; Dublin Coffman High School

Edwards has nine years of club experience with Ohio Premier and started all four years at Dublin Coffman High School … All-ECNL Tournament team in 2012 and a member of the 2013 U-18 national champion Ohio Premier team under Chris King … named a High School All-American as a junior and a senior … Ohio Division I Player of the Year as a senior … first team All-Ohio and OCC Player of the Year as a junior and a senior … tallied 68 goals and 45 assists in high school career … participated in first Girls High School All-America game in Cary, N.C., in 2013 … also lettered first two years in basketball … enjoys dancing, listening to music, poetry, snowboarding and longboarding … National Honor Society member … daughter of John and Kim Edwards … has an older sister, Kelly.

Coach Lori Walker“Sammy adds to our Buckeye family another championship pedigree as a member of the Ohio Premier U-18 national championship team. Sammy has the determination and courage to compete on the grandest of stages. A player with the pace and technical ability to exploit the best of defenders, Sammy will add yet another dimension to an already established front line.”

Kennedy Kraft – Defender – Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.
Slammers FC; Santa Margarita Catholic High School

Kraft has nine years of club experience with Slammers FC and lettered three years at Santa Margarita Catholic High School … named a Top 150 recruit by Top Drawer Soccer … member of 2012 ECNL national champions directed by Walid and Ziad Khoury … a captain of Santa Margarita Catholic as a senior and helped lead team to Trinity League championship as a sophomore and a junior … volunteers with Top Soccer, which allows kids with physical and mental disabilities to participate in the soccer community … enjoys going to the beach and spending time with family and friends … daughter of Howard and Janis Kraft … has two older siblings, Kelsey and Karsyn … sister, Kelsey, played soccer at Oklahoma.

Coach Lori Walker“Kennedy is a remarkable attacking fullback with the ability to get up and down the line. She brings national champion accolades with her from the Slammers Football Club. Kennedy has all the tools necessary to compete at the highest of levels. She brings a level of tenacity, size and fighting spirit to our team that will undoubtedly allow her to compete from day one.”

Gracin Palmer – Forward – Clinton, N.C.
CASL; Clinton High School

Gracin has seven years of club experience with CASL under the technical direction of Damon Nahas and coached by Paul Forster … her ODP team in addition to being a member of the U.S. U-14 and U-15 national teams … CASL co-captain and a North Carolina ODP first team selection … also lettered three years in swimming and was a member of the North Carolina state championship-qualifying relay team at Clinton … enjoys yoga, laughing and hanging out with friends and family … daughter of Gib and Robin Palmer … has two older siblings, Leah and Field.

Coach Lori Walker“Gracin strikes a ball as hard as any female collegiate player in the country. The foundations that have been instilled from the CASL program out of North Carolina will no doubt help set her apart in the Big Ten. She has the ability to play in multiple positions and that should allow her to make an immediate impact upon our team and within in the conference.”

Caitlyn Patton – Defender – Canton, Ohio
Internationals; Jackson High School

Caitlyn has nine years of club experience with the Internationals directed by Zdravko Poplovic … lettered all four years at Jackson High School … three-year captain of Internationals … two-time ECNL regional player development participant and member of San Diego ECNL all-event team in 2013 … won a club national championship with the Internationals in 2012 … two-time captain at Jackson and a two-time all-county selection … first team All-Ohio as a senior and second team All-Ohio as a junior … enjoys spending time with family and friends … National Honor Society member … daughter of Michael Patton and Melissa Vassas … has three younger siblings, Camille, Lucas and Mya.

Coach Lori Walker“Caitlyn comes to us from northern Ohio, where she’s experienced a great deal of success with the Internationals. She is arguably one of the top central defenders in the state. A player with unflappable nerves, Caitlyn will immediately find herself in contention for a spot on next year’s back line.”

Brynn Schlemitz – Midfielder – Dublin, Ohio
Ohio Premier; Dublin Coffman High School

Brynn has played 10 years for Ohio Premier under director Chris King … lettered all four years at Dublin Coffman High School … named first team All-OCC, second team all-district and a Super 12 captain honorable mention selection at Coffman … enjoys hanging out with friends, watching movies, skiing and playing sports … National Honor Society member … daughter of Kurt and Kathy Schlemitz … has three older siblings, Shane, Kenzie and Allie … Kenzie is a member of the Ohio State women’s soccer team … dad played lacrosse at Bowling Green and mom was a swimmer at Ball State.

Coach Lori Walker“Brynn joins us from the storied Ohio Premier Soccer Club, where she’s established herself as an effective midfielder, capable of influencing both sides of the ball. Brynn joins her sister (Kenzie) here at OSU and brings a level of consistency and depth to our roster that we need to win in the Big Ten.”

Nikki Walts – Midfielder – Scottsdale, Ariz.
Slammers FC; Desert Mountain High School

Nikki has three years of club experience with Slammers FC and played two years at Xavier College Prep … named Fiesta All-Region and a nominee for Gatorade Player of the Year while at Xavier College Prep … member of 2012 ECNL national champions directed by Walid and Ziad Khoury … member of Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos, a charity that allows her to help at an orphanage in Guatemala … also a member of Spanish Club, Key Club and Health Career Club … enjoys going to the lake, wakeboarding, skiing, snowboarding and tubing … daughter of Butch and Allyson Watts … has two older sisters, Brittney and Erin … dad played professional tennis and mom played tennis at Oklahoma and Arizona State.

Coach Lori Walker“Nikki also joins us with a championship pedigree, as she earned a national championship with the Slammers Football Club. Living in Arizona and training with Les Armstrong from SC Del Sol, Nikki has spent the last four seasons traveling with and competing for the Slammers based in Southern California. Nikki has a championship training ethic and will make an immediate impact upon our program as one of the top midfielders in the conference. A true soccer junkie, Nikki is a free-kick artist who will immediately endear herself to teammates and fans alike.”

Emma Wangsness – Defender/Forward – Redwood City, Calif.
MVLA Mercury; St. Francis High School

Wangsness has six years of club experience with MVLA Mercury under the direction of club directors Albertin and Erin Montoya and coach Seth Alberico … lettered two years at St. Francis High School … member of 2012 state club finalist and third-place MVLA Mercury team … won a 2011 Cal-North state cup championship with MVLA Mercury … helped St. Francis to a CCS runner-up finish as a senior and a WCAL runner-up finish as a junior … enjoys listening to music, hanging out with friends and family and going to the beach … daughter of Jon Wangsness and Kendra Kling … has a younger brother, Jack.

Coach Lori Walker: “Emma comes from the much-heralded MVLA Soccer Club out of northern California, where she’s been an unbelievable talisman for her team. Emma’s main ingredients are her work rate, and no-nonsense approach to defending which should allow her to compete from the moment she steps on campus. Emma will contribute to the depth of our front line and will be groomed to become an attacking wide back.”