Newest recruiting class welcomed to PSAC-winning women’s soccer

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The Slippery Rock women’s soccer team announced their recruiting class for 2020, which consists of six players, on Thursday. The class is a small one that includes two midfielders, two forwards, a defender and a goalkeeper.

“They’re fast and there is an extreme amount of athleticism. This is really exciting
because I think we learned speed really trumps a lot of things in this conference,” SRU women’s soccer coach Jessica Griggs said.

Among the speed that is coming in is Brandie Nauman, who Griggs is very excited
to see in action.

“Brandie is very exciting, she reminds me of Ashley Rea and a few others who just have that speed, athleticism and feistiness,” Griggs said.

Nauman and incoming goalkeeper Brooke Lively both went to Ambridge High School and played for the same club team. Now, they will both be coming to play under Griggs, which is something she has looked forward to for some time.

Lively will join an already stacked goalkeeper room, featuring Emma Yoder, who had
eight shutouts last season.

“You have to look at the goalkeeper core as a whole and not just the starting goalkeeper with experience, and if you’ve ever seen some video footage when Emma makes a big save, Jordyn and Alaina are the first to cheer her on,” Griggs said.

This off-season will also include Griggs looking for a new assistant coach/goalkeeper coach as long-time assistant coach Mark Sappington accepted a position at Campbell University. Sappington and Griggs had been together for all five years at The Rock, with their final season together culminating in a PSAC championship.

“It’s a small class and I did that on purpose, we were looking for quality over quantity
because we still have that huge class that will be our rising juniors and there’s ten of them. We don’t really need numbers, we need quality and I think we got that with them,” Griggs said.

The upcoming junior class has already made their mark and consists of goal scorers like
Rachel Edge, Jordyn Minda and Yoder. Edge had a breakout season leading the PSAC in goals (15) and points (39) and was named PSAC Western Division Player of the Year. Minda built on her impressive freshman year as she scored eight goals and had five assists and joined Edge on the first team All-PSAC squad.

“We always get our kids together before they actually get to campus, because they come
to our camps and get to know each other beforehand so it makes the transition smoother for both them and the team,” Griggs said.

The most challenging part has obviously been the transition during the COVID-19
outbreak for the team. Griggs has been trying to put together workouts for the players to be able to do at home, but she has liked the way the girls have responded to it.

“Shannon McIntyre has been our leading captain and she was one last fall; she texted me
the other night and said it’s going to sort of be like our Costa Rica experience because when we get back we’ll be so grateful and that’s cool because that’s not something I can really control,” Griggs said.

The incoming freshman will help fill some holes left by the graduating seniors, but as for
the other holes, those will be filled by the seniors and juniors. Those holes are what Griggs
considers to be the most important role of the team and it’s leadership. Some of this has
already been addressed as Griggs named senior Sofia Harrison and Yoder captains.

Another hole that was left was on the defense with Madison Johnson graduating, but
Griggs hopes that incoming defender Madison Olsen can help make a difference on the defensive end. Olsen is coming off of an injury, but Griggs believes that she’s going to make an impact on defense.

“She’s a future leader for sure and she has an awesome attitude and great
communication skills,” Griggs said. “I think the injury let her step back and enjoy some time with family, enjoy some other things that she knew she enjoyed but didn’t have time for because she was always running around from soccer practice to track practice.

“Syd [Patrick] is going to be really good and she’s going to learn the game really quickly,
and once she does it’s going to be kind of exciting,” Griggs said.

Patrick is the other forward coming in, and Griggs believes that she has the raw athletic talent that could be dangerous for other teams. Patrick and Nauman have the opportunity to make an already explosive attack featuring Edge, Minda and upcoming sophomore Kayla Swope even more lethal.

The Rock will also be adding two midfielders, Dani Ianuzzo and Sophia Tyler. “Dani
reminds me a lot of Miranda Gallucci, she’s very composed on the ball and very small and she plays at a very high level with her Riverhounds club team so that’s really exciting,” Coach Griggs said.

Ianuzzo scored the game-winning goal in the state championship game for her high
school Norwin in 2017 and was also a captain on her club team. Tyler is the only player from outside Pennsylvania and the WPIAL in this class.

“She is also a future leader on this team, when we were recruiting her at the beginning she was actually looking at Ivy League schools and she chose Slippery Rock for her reasons, but you love to bring in kids who want to be at Slippery Rock,” Griggs said. “She actually reminds me a lot of Tyler Spence, our longtime captain, because of the mentality that she has and all of that, and think she’ll be an incredible addition to the leadership aspect, and the culture and the accountability.”

Griggs is excited to get to work with this class and really believes that they are exactly
what they were looking for and that’s quality players.

“There is some raw talent in there that I’m excited for, and it’s a challenge for me because I get to coach them to be better players than what they get away with because of that athleticism and speed,” Griggs said.

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