BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—Birmingham-Southern Head Women's Soccer Coach Benji Walton announced today that he will welcome six outstanding student-athletes to the Hilltop this fall as his 2012 incoming class.
The members of the 2012 freshman class are:
St. Pius X Catholic High School
Club: GA Rush
Mattie Gereben played on the junior varsity soccer team for St. Pius X Catholic High School. She was named best defensive player for their team in 2009. She then used her athletic talents in the swimming pool for the past four years, where she swam in the state championship meet her junior and senior years. While she cross-trained, she also kept up her soccer endeavors while playing with the GA Rush club.
While at St. Pius, Gereben also excelled in the classroom. She has been a member of her school's Honor Roll all four years, making Dean's List in 2010, and was a member of the National Honor Society from 2010 through this year. She plans on being a Pre-Health major at Birmingham-Southern.
"I think Mattie already bleeds black and gold," Coach Walton said. "She is extremely eager to get out here this fall and prove herself. She is a deceptively quick player that is constantly moving off the ball and trying to spark play. She also brings us another ball winner that always proves to be extremely valuable against quality opponents. I look forward to working with her and finding out the kind of player that she can be."
Bob Jones High School
Sarah Lombardi was a member of Bob Jones High School's varsity soccer program her junior year. She is a member of the Birmingham United Soccer Association (BUSA) club, along with fellow incoming Panther Avery Newcomb. Together they helped the club to a State Cup title in 2009. She has been a member of their Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) team from 2009-2012. Lombardi was a three-year participant in the Alabama Olympic Development Program (ODP), and a Regional Camp attendee one of those years. She has been very involved in her community with her involvement in two Bob Jones extra-curricular club programs, the Key Club and Junior Civitans, which focus largely on service projects.
Lombardi plans on studying art history at Birmingham-Southern.
"Sarah is one of the top midfielders from the state that we are fortunate to have battling in the center of the field for us this fall," Coach Walton said. "She is a very versatile player that I think could excel in a variety of roles. I look forward to having her athleticism and tactical understanding on the field. Her experience and soccer IQ will be very valuable as we look to take the next step in postseason play in 2012."
Position: Center Midfield
Bob Jones High School
Avery Newcomb was a member of the varsity soccer program at Bob Jones High School in 2009 and 2011. During her freshman campaign, she led the team in assists (10) and was the third top goal scorer (9). In her junior year, Newcomb also led the team in assists and was one again the Patriots' third top goal scorer. She has continued her competitive soccer by playing for the Birmingham United Soccer Association (BUSA) the past four years. Most recently, their team has participated in the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL), facing some of the top talent from around the country. Newcomb was also a member of the Alabama Olympic Development Program (ODP) from 2005 until 2009.
At Bob Jones, Newcomb performed very well in the classroom. An Honor Roll member from 2009-2011, she has also been in the National Honor Society in 2008, 2010, and 2011. She plans on majoring in Pre-Health at Birmingham-Southern.
"Avery is one of the smoothest center midfielders that I have seen play at the club level in several years," Coach Walton said. "Tactically she understands the game extremely well and has an amazing ability of distributing balls with great accuracy. I think she is a player that could have an immediate impact for our team in the middle of the field as either a holding or an attacking midfield role. She has played at the highest level within the club game for Birmingham United's ECNL team and I believe that experience will prove to be very valuable for her transition to the college game. We are very excited to have her join our program."
McGill-Toolen High School
Club: Mobile Soccer Club
Ashley Prouty will come to BSC after attending high school at McGill-Toolen, where she was a four-year starter for the squad and obtained team defensive MVP honors her junior year. She served as team captain her senior year. Prouty has also played her club ball with the Mobile Soccer Club for the past four years, and was a member of the Alabama Olympic Development Program (ODP) for two years.
Academically, Prouty is another well-rounded student. She ranks 48th in a class of 300, was a 2010 inductee into the National Honor Society, and has obtained an Academic Letter from McGill-Toolen. Prouty plans to study Biology while on the Hilltop.
"If you want to win against the top teams in Division III you have to have defenders that like to instigate physical play and not shy away from it," Coach Walton said. "This is exactly what we have in Ashley. She might be one of the more tenacious young defenders I have seen play in a while. She will really add athleticism to our back line and allow us to have one of the deepest defensive lines on our schedule. I am excited to see the energy she brings in the fall."
Position: Forward/Outside Midfielder
Harrison High School
Powder Springs, Ga.
Club: Cobb FC
Jessie Sperry will come to the Hilltop from Harrison High School, a powerhouse soccer school in Georgia. She is a three year letter winner, and senior team captain, on a team that was AAAAA Georgia State Champions in 2011. Sperry was also named to the Marietta Daily Journal All-County Team as an Honorable Mention in 2011. In 2009, she was voted as her team's offensive most valuable player. Sperry has played with the club program Cobb FC for nine years, six years spent under the tutelage of Coach Shaun Baddock, who has sent Ian Everrett, a member of the men's soccer team, to Birmingham-Southern as well. Sperry was Cobb's team scoring leader from 2009-2011, and was also named their offensive team captain this year.
A Georgia Certificate of Merit Recipient in 2011, Sperry takes her academics as seriously as she does her athletics. She was also member of the Beta Club in 2010. She plans to be a Pre-Health major as a BSC Panther.
"Jessie will bring instant technical control to our outside midfield or forward position," Coach Walton said. "She also has a knack for coming up with clutch goals when her team needs it the most. I think she is a player that will really bring more skill in our attack. I look forward to see how quickly she adjusts to the college game. To me it's only a matter of time before she takes off as an offensive threat in our league."
Club: Macon Soccer Club
Katie Williams will come to the Hilltop after a highly decorated high school campaign at the Deerfield-Windsor School, both in the classroom and on the pitch. In the classroom, she has been a Beta Club member from 2008-2012 as well as a National Merit Commended Student in 2011. Williams was also the recipient of the Headmaster's Award in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Williams has taken her committed work ethic and applied it to her athletics as well. She helped anchor a team as a goalkeeper for the Deerfield-Windsor Knights. Williams is a five-time letter winner for a team that won the GISA 3-AAA Regional Championship three times (2008, 2009, 2010) and was runner-up in 2011. She was named All-Region four straight years (2008-2011). In 2011, she was also named to the All-State team. Williams has served as a co-captain of this squad in 2011 and 2012. She has also participated with the Macon Soccer Club from 2008-2012.
"We are thrilled to add a keeper like Katie to battle in the net for us in 2012," Coach Walton said. "She is a fearless player that likes to be active off her line and doesn't mind playing a bit physical, which is extremely important. I think her work ethic is what sets her apart. It's my hope that her energy and excitement becomes contagious throughout the entire team."