The UCLA Women’s Soccer team has announced that they have completed their 2017 recruiting class. They signed 10 incoming freshmen with a mix of forwards, midfielders, defenders, and a goalkeeper. With these signings, the UCLA freshmen class has been ranked No. 2 in the nation by Top Drawer Soccer.
This announcement comes just two weeks after Mallory Pugh announced she had made the decision to leave UCLA and turn pro. While Pugh’s departure did leave a dent in the attack, the Bruins made up her loss with the new recruits. Specifically, with the No. 1 recruit U.S. Women’s National Team member Ashley Sanchez and Canadian Women’s National Team member Kennedy Faulknor. These two youngsters, along with Jessie Fleming, are going to be the talk of Westwood when August comes around.
Sanchez will be a powerful weapon in UCLA’s arsenal with her speed and vision. I clearly remember watching her play in the U-20’s 2016 World Cup and noticing her blazing speed and getting by the opponent’s defense. No doubt she will continue to aggravate defenses at the collegiate level.
While it’s always great to have an extra attacking player, defense is where UCLA needs their most work. Last season after Darian Jenkins broke her tibia, the Bruins continued to score goals from a number of players who stepped up to the plate. While the goals went in on one side of the field, they also went on the Bruins side as well. It was as if, when the Bruins made a goal, they would allow one in. Their defense could not hold up after the work their offense did to score the goal in the first place. Kennedy Faulknor can be the defensive player they need. She is a left-footed center back, which is hard to find. She can also play on the flank as well. She has experience at the national team level with a couple caps under her belt.
While many will look forward to watching both Sanchez and Faulknor play this fall, I’m looking forward to watching one of the other freshmen breakout. In every team, there is always a surprise player who steps up that no one expected to make a lot of noise. I’m not exactly sure who it will be, but, considering how loaded this incoming class will be, I’m very much looking forward to someone surprising me.
With the No. 2 recruiting class in the country, UCLA is looking to bring the national title back to Westwood where it belongs. This incoming class along with the current team makes a very good case for themselves. I would not want to be a defender going up against the duo of Sanchez and Fleming, or a forward going against Faulknor.
Since it’s only May, it might be a little early to give any solid evaluations. But this coming 2017 season is going to be nothing short of exciting.
Here is a list of the 10 Freshmen:
Olivia Athens - Midfielder
Issy Bellinghausen - Forward/Midfielder
Lauren Brzykcy - Goalkeeper
Kennedy Faulknor - Defense
Karina Rodriguez - Defender
Ashley Sanchez - Forward/Midfielder
Dani Satterwhite - Defender
Hannah Sharts - Defender/Midfielder
Delanie Sheehan - Forward/Midfielder
Viviana Villacorta - Midfielder