POSTED: Thursday, February 2, 2012 - 4:27pm
UPDATED: Thursday, February 2, 2012 - 4:34pm
BATON ROUGE, LA — In the wake of a 2011 campaign in which the LSU Soccer program again proved itself as an SEC Championship contender, the Tigers solidified their position among the league's elite for years to come with the addition of a talented crop of five recruits signing National Letters of Intent as part of 2012 National Signing Day festivities on Wednesday morning.
Among the five prep standouts set to compete during the 2012 season include a highly-recruited Canadian international, two recruits ranked in this year's final TopDrawerSoccer.com National Top 100, and two of the premier prospects in the state of Florida for the Class of 2012.
Joining the LSU Soccer program Wednesday as part of an outstanding Class of 2012 are Haley Emerson (Fort Myers, Fla.), Jade Kovacevic (Georgetown, Ontario, Canada), Colby Maffei (Tampa, Fla.), Heather Magee (Colleyville, Texas) and Morgan Ruhl (Hereford, Md.).
This year's signing class will fill the void left by a five-member senior class that led the Tigers to a fourth SEC Western Division championship and NCAA Tournament appearance in the last five seasons.
"We're excited that each of these young women decided to continue their athletic and academic careers as LSU Tigers," said LSU head coach Brian Lee. "We feel this class is potentially the most talented we have signed as a group as we continue to build a championship program at LSU. They have the chance to build upon the foundation we've already laid and help us compete for championships for years to come.
"We're sad to have to say goodbye to a tremendous senior class, but the future is certainly bright with this year's class and the quality of student-athletes we'll continue to recruit in the coming seasons."
LSU's midfield unit will receive an immediate infusion of talent with the addition of Emerson, Kovacevic and Magee, while Maffei looks to crack the playing rotation along the front line and Ruhl will compete as one of the nation's top young goalkeepers in all of college soccer this fall.
As a veteran of the Canadian Women's National Team system, Kovacevic joins the program as one of the most highly-recruited players in North America for the Class of 2012.
Kovacevic earned three international caps while representing her country during the 2010 FIFA Under-17 Women's World Cup while competing in group play against the likes of Brazil, Ghana and Ireland. While preparing for her appearance at the 2010 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup, Kovacevic opened the scoring with the first goal of the match in Canada's 2-1 win over Japan in friendly competition.
A product of Acton High School and the Oakville Soccer Club, Kovacevic honed her skills with the U-17 Canadian Women's National Team in 2010 and U-20 Canadian Women's National Team in 2011.
Magee and Ruhl are four-star recruits and ranked among the Top 100 prospects in the United States in the TopDrawerSoccer.com National Top 100 for the Class of 2012.
Magee has signed with the Tigers following a brilliant prep career at Grapevine High School where she is the No. 31-ranked recruit in the country and the No. 5-ranked recruit in the talent-rich state of Texas for this year's signing class by TopDrawerSoccer.com. She is also tabbed the No. 39-ranked prep prospect on the year for the Class of 2012 in the ESPN High School National Top 150.
Magee has earned national team experience in her own right during her prep career as a member of the U-17 U.S. Women's National Team player pool during the 2009 campaign. She is also a three-year veteran of the Region III Olympic Development Program Team from 2009-11.
In addition, Magee helped the '94 Solar-Chelsea Soccer Club claim the U.S. Youth Soccer U-16 National Championship during the 2010 season in the premier club championship at the youth level.
While competing for The McDonogh School during her prep career, Ruhl has solidified her position as an elite goalkeeper in the class as the nation's No. 80-ranked high school prospect by TopDrawerSoccer.com and the No. 131-ranked recruit nationally in the ESPN High School National Top 150 for 2012.
Ruhl has also competed at the highest levels of youth soccer in the United States as a member of the U-15 U.S. Women's National Team player pool in 2009. In addition to serving as a two-year member of the Region I ODP Team, Ruhl also earned a place with the Adidas ESP All-Star Team and the recipient of the Adidas ESP Golden Glove Award as the team's top goalkeeper in 2009.
Magee and Ruhl actually faced one another for club national supremacy in the 2010 USYS U-16 National Championship Game when Magee's Solar-Chelsea SC of Dallas, Texas, took home the gold medal with a 1-0 victory over Ruhl's McLean Strikers of McLean, Va., in the tournament final.
The Tigers have also signed two of the elite talents in the state of Florida for 2012 with the inking of both Emerson and Maffei to National Letters of Intent on Wednesday.
A product of Tampa Preparatory School and the Tampa Bay United club program, Maffei has received an impressive four-star rating as the No. 8-ranked recruit in the state of Florida by TopDrawerSoccer.com.
Like Magee, Maffei has competed with the Region III ODP Team during her high school career as a four-year veteran from 2008-11, which includes international ODP tours of both Germany and The Netherlands during the 2010 season. She was also invited to compete with the Region III ODP Team with the ODP National Camp in February 2011 along with many of the nation's elite youth prospects.
Emerson will join the LSU Soccer program following a standout career at Fort Myers High School during which she has been named among the 2012 ESPNRise High School Players to Watch.
A three-star recruit by TopDrawerSoccer.com, Emerson is the all-time leading goal scorer for Fort Myers High School with 132 goals during her prep career, including a season-high 54 goals as a senior for 2011-12. Emerson was named the 2011 News-Press All-Area Girls Soccer Player of the Year as a junior.
"We're certainly excited with the overall talent level of this year's recruiting class," Lee said. "We should also recognize the work of Debbie (Hensley) and Kevin (Dempsey) in putting this class together. I'm very pleased with the quality of student-athlete joining our program this year and in the years to come. We will look forward to what the future holds for this group of young women."