Hopes high for large signing class, returning core

BREVARD, N.C. – Head coach Shigeyoshi Shinohara and the Brevard College women’s soccer team enter the 2014 season hungry to improve with a solid core of returners and a number of talented newcomers in this year’s 22-member signing class.

“I’m absolutely delighted with this year’s recruiting class,” Shinohara remarked. “We hope that the mix of characters and talents that we have will make this the best recruiting class we’ve ever brought in. I also believe that we’ve established great foundations for this program, and I have strong faith in our upperclassmen to continue building on what they’ve already accomplished. We’re ready to go to the next level and we thank all the supporters of this program. We hope that this will be an amazing year for us.”

Lizzie Graham, a senior midfielder, will look to anchor the Tornados’ attack in 2014. She has seen action in 50 games in her career, scoring two goals and placing half of her 46 career shots on frame. Sophomore Kaitlin Burns, last year’s second-leading scorer with three goals, and junior forward Katherine Nickels, who scored twice on the season, will also be key contributors in attacking roles for Brevard this season.

The Tornados will return three defenders from last year’s team. Juniors Alexis Griffis and Currin Sessions will team with senior Althea Dunn to anchor a back line that improved vastly last season, giving up 10 less goals than it had during the 2012 campaign.

A strong recruiting class will bolster the Tornados at every position. Midfielder Shannon Bava returns to the Tornados as a junior after graduating from Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College. Bava played in 18 games with 13 starts for the Tornados as a freshman in 2012. Jocelyn Springer will strengthen a goalkeeper unit left depleted after the graduation of Brittany Webster, who played every minute in goal for the Tornados last season.

The midfield will gain a boost from the additions of Anita Maryskova, who grew up in the Czech Republic and comes to Brevard by way of Division I California State University Bakersfield, and Estelle Rault, a French native with an extensive club soccer background. Kimiko Nakanishi, who hails from Japan, is a versatile player that can step into a number of roles on the field and is expected to bolster the Tornados’ attack.

Although the team hopes to improve on the field, the Tornados are proud of their work off the field as well. Dunn and Megan Jenkins, a senior midfielder, have both recognized for their stellar work in the classroom, and the leadership of fifth-year senior goalkeeper Bree McMahon will help the large signing class adjust to the rigors of collegiate soccer.

“Our main goal for this program is always academics,” said Shinohara. “We have a strong tradition of having a good academic standing, and I believe we have a great system being put into place this year by [former Director of Internal Operations and Academic Services] Jamie Atkinson to help our athletes succeed even more in the classroom. I’ve always been so proud of our girls for being dedicated on and off the field and I admire what they’ve done in their academic work.

Brevard opens regular season play on Thursday, September 4 against King University in Bristol, Tennessee. The Tornados will play their home opener two days later with a 1:00 p.m. match against Shorter on Saturday, September 6.

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