BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Birmingham-Southern College women's soccer welcomes an 8-member freshman class for the upcoming 2016 season. The group will balance out a roster that includes seven upperclassmen and nine sophomores.
"We are very excited about the 2016 class," said Head Coach David Di Piazza. "These young ladies bring a ton of talent to the Hilltop, both in the classroom and on the soccer field. We look forward to blending them in with the current players to help the team compete for a conference championship."
BSC finished the 2015 season 8-8, 3-4 in conference. They earned seven All-Southern Athletic Association honors and ranked nationally in 12 categories.
Below is more information on the recruiting class.
Eva Byrum, Midfielder
Hoover, Ala. ● Hoover HS
Hoover Soccer Club
Eva Byrum was a three-year varsity player for the Hoover High School Lady Bucs. On the soccer field, she was regarded as a skilled utility player, earning playing time at forward, midfield, and defender. Her consistency both on the field and in the classroom earned her recognition as a 2016 HHS Booster Club Merit Scholarship winner. Byrum played competitively for Hoover Soccer Club for 10 years as part of Lady Phantoms teams that claimed state and regional titles.
She participated in International Baccalaureate classes, earning the IB certificate, and was inducted into the Spanish Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, and the National Honor Society. She was an active member of the HHS chamber choir for two years, serving as president her senior year. She also serves as a youth leader at her church and was the 12th grade representative to Music & Arts Week at Camp Sumatanga.
"Eva has attended soccer camp at BSC for many years and her work ethic is superb. She is a selfless and loyal player that will put her team first," said Assistant Coach Linda Amaya. "We are excited to have her join us next fall."
Ann Mirette Carroll, Defender
Decatur, Ala. ● Decatur HS
River City United Soccer Club
Ann Mirette Carroll was a four-year starter for Decatur High School's Varsity soccer team. She helped her team to a 6A top-ten ranking her junior and senior years. She has played soccer for 13 years on numerous teams. Carroll played for River City Raptors '98 for three years and River City Raptors '97 for two years where her team won two Division II state championships. As a sophomore and junior, Carroll played for Huntsville Futbol Club where her team was a Division I State Cup finalist and then won a Division I State Cup championship. She returned to River City United Soccer Club for her senior year where her team was a DII State Cup finalist.
At Decatur, Carroll graduated eighth in her class and held a 4.3 GPA. She was a member of the National Honors Society and Spanish National Honors Society as well as being an IB Diploma Program candidate. At Birmingham-Southern she will be a part of the Harrison Honors Program.
"Ann Mirette's speed helps her hunt down opponents," said Amaya. "She excels at winning the ball and finding an open teammate to maintain possession. We are looking forward to her impact on our squad."
Tessa Craft, Midfielder/Forward
Grayson, Ga. ● Grayson HS
Gwinnett Soccer Association
Tessa Craft was a four-year starter at Grayson High School in midfield. In 2014, she helped her team become 6A Region Champions and 6A State Runner-ups. Individually, she was named All-County that same year. In 2015, her team were Region Champs for the second time and Grayson HS won the 6A State Championship. Craft played club soccer with GSA 98 ECNL for six years, and was a member of Georgia ODP for two years.
In the classroom, Craft garnered a 4.0 GPA and was a member of National Honor Society, Science National Honor Society, and Beta Club. Craft was also an Honor Graduate and was awarded Literature Student of the Year. At BSC, she plans to major in biology.
"Tessa is a technical and smart player that looks to possess the ball," said Amaya. "She is talented with both feet and won't hesitate to take shots from distance. Her skills will be an asset to our team's midfield or forward line."
Libby Groark, Goalkeeper
Huntsville, Ala. ● Saint John Paul II Catholic HS
United Soccer Club
Libby Groark played Varsity soccer at Pope John Paul II her junior and senior years of High School as goalkeeper. Her junior year, she received Most Improved Player. Groark Played competitively with United Soccer Club in Huntsville, Alabama finishing in 2nd place in 2013. In 2014, she played for Huntsville Futbol Club.
In the classroom Groark held a 4.3 GPA while being active in extracurricular activities. She was a member of National Honor Society and the Spanish and French Honor Societies. Her accolades garnered her on the Honor Roll each year. Groark was also a part of campus ministry while in high school.
Groark joined BSC Women's Soccer team as a walk-on in the 2016 Spring Season. During her freshman year at BSC, Groark immediately got involved in religious and social life on campus. She is on the servant team for Reform United Fellowship (RUF). She is an associate member of AED, a Hilltop Host, and a member of Chi-O sorority.
"Libby's motivation and passion for the game will be contagious to our team next fall," said Amaya. "She trains hard and learns quickly. Her fearlessness and competitiveness will help us in the net."
Jenny Kastner, Midfielder
Hamilton, Ala. ● Hamilton HS
Tupelo Futbol Club
Jenny Kastner has played soccer for 13 years with the competitive Tupelo Futbol Club in Mississippi. With TFC, Kastner helped lead the team to three soccer state championships in 2012, 2013 and 2015 as a central midfielder. She also played on the Olympic Development Program (ODP) State team in 2012 and 2013. Kastner also played basketball and ran track for Hamilton High School where she garnered All-County and All-Conference awards in basketball and broke her school's record for the fastest 400m & 800m.
Academically, Kastner excelled as well. She was a member of National Honor Society all four years and involved with the Student Government Association her last two years.
"Jenny is a crafty and skillful player who likes to take opponents on," said Amaya. "She always has her head up looking for the next pass and is constantly thinking a step ahead. Her attacking mind will give other teams trouble."
Nicole Malegni, Defender
Huntsville, Ala. ● Saint John Paul II Catholic HS
Huntsville Futbol Club
Nicole Malegni comes to BSC from Saint John Paul II Catholic High School in Huntsville, Ala. She has been a member of the school's varsity soccer team since her freshman year. Malegni was awarded offensive MVP with outstanding Offensive Performance her junior year. During her senior year, as a team captain and right back defensive starter, Malegni helped lead her team to victory over longtime division rivals finally reaching the Final Four for the first time since 2011. She also played club soccer the past 7 years, the last 4 years with Huntsville Futbol Club, rounding out her club career with a division one state win.
At Saint John Paul II, Malegni was active in the campus ministry as well as the senior retreat team. She has graduated with a 3.87 GPA and plans on majoring in chemistry at Birmingham-Southern.
"Nicole's speed on the outside and intensity going forward will be a spark," said Amaya. "You can tell she loves to play and continues to ask how she can improve. We are happy to add a player like her to our roster."
Rachel Motamed, Midfielder/Forward
Birmingham, Ala. ● Indian Springs HS
Vestavia Hills Soccer Club
Rachael Motamed joins the Panthers after playing five years for Indian Springs School's Varsity Soccer team. She began playing with her school team as an 8th grader and was a starter for four years. As a junior, she was named leading goal scorer for her team and was runner-up her senior year. She was named to the All-Tournament Team in the 2015 Shamrock Classic, named All-County Team and All-Metro team in 2014, 2015, and 2016. In 2015, she was selected as a North-South All-Star Athlete among the state of Alabama. Motamed played club competitively within the Birmingham area since she was 11 years old.
In the classroom, Motamed garnered a 4.24 GPA upon graduation meanwhile being involved in volunteer and school activities. She was a member of Key Club, was a Student Tutor, and a Student Ambassador at Indian Springs School. In 2015, she won the Andy Abrom's Memorial Scholarship at Auburn Sports Science Camp while attending lectures at Auburn's Kinesiology Department.
"We are thrilled to add Rachael to our roster this fall," said Amaya. "She has a powerful shot and great game awareness. Her creativity on the field and eagerness to attack will add some danger to our offense."
Mackensie Terry, Defender
Spanish Fort, Ala. ● Daphne High School
Gulf Coast Texans
Mackensie Terry played Varsity Soccer for Daphne High School all four years. She lettered and was named Best Defender her freshmen and sophomore years. Her team earned the Highest Team GPA amongst the other athletic teams at Daphne HS during her sophomore year. In 2013, her team won Island Cup. She was named to the All-County Team and Battle of the Bay Showcase. For club soccer, she played with Gulf Coast Texans. In 2014, her team won Super Y League North American Finals, and by the next year she attended Super Y League ODP National Camp. She led her club soccer team as a Team Captain.
Terry succeeded academically as well. She was a National Merit Finalist, International Baccalaureate Candidate, and President of her school's National Honor Society. She was selected into BSC's Harrison Honors Program and plans to study pre-health.
"Mackensie is a tenacious and aggressive player who will fight to win the ball. Her athleticism and willingness to work for her teammates will set her apart," said Amaya. "We are looking forward to her growth in the college game."