WOMENâ€™S SOCCER SIGNS FIVE FOR 2007 RECRUITING CLASS
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The Sacramento State women’s soccer program announced its five-member, 2007 signing class today, which includes goalkeeper Savannah Ambercrombie, forward Leah Larot, midfielder Kylee Blatz, and defenders Nicole Cristino and Cori Shreve.
For the past two years, Soccer Buzz Magazine has ranked the Hornets’ recruiting classes second in the Big Sky Conference, and once again, the women’s soccer program continues to build with young talent. In 2006, the Hornets produced their best season in program history, advancing to the Big Sky Tournament championship match and finishing with a 10-7-4 record.
This is the first recruiting class for head coach Randy Dedini. An assistant coach with the program for three seasons, Dedini was hired as head coach earlier this month after three-year head coach Katie Poynter resigned.
“We are very excited about this class and the athleticism they are going to add,” Dedini said. “ We want to return to the Big Sky championship game, and with this class, we focused on bringing in athletes who are going to contribute right away and help us reach that goal. This class has created a whole new level of potential for our program.”
Ambercrombie, a current senior at El Camino High School, led the Eagles to a 9-5-4 record last year with a team-best seven assists while adding five goals. A two-year varsity striker for head coach Al Posner, Ambercrombie was named second team all-Capital Athletic League, but is expected to play in goal for the Hornets.
A multiple-sport athlete at El Camino, Ambercrombie was a two-year goalkeeper on the men’s varsity soccer team, and also played two years of varsity basketball and volleyball. Ambercrombie has played club soccer for nine seasons with the Sacramento United Storm as a goalkeeper and striker. This past summer, the Storm visited Italy taking third in the tournament there, and winning the Copa Catalunya Championship, a tournament held in Spain. At the tournament, Ambercrombie scored the game-winning goal and stopped three penalty kicks to advance to the championship match.
“I think Savannah can come in as a true freshman and push our two current goalkeepers right away,” Dedini said. “She has the mental toughness a goalkeeper needs, and is very comfortable with the ball at her feet. Savannah is naturally strong, and as her club coach Shawn Blakeman says, ‘Savannah is a competitor.’ She’ll continue to raise her game until she is competing for the starting job.”
Sacramento State’s second addition is Larot, a current senior at Evergreen Valley High School in San Jose, Calif. A forward with speed and quickness, she has been a three-year starter for the Cougars and head coach Michelle Sunseri.
“Leah is a very crafty player who is going to bring some flair and creativity to our forward line,” Dedini said. “More importantly, she is a proven goal scorer who has the ability to play with both feet. Along with her athleticism and speed, Leah is going to be a handful for defenders in the Big Sky. She is the type of forward who can fake a defender out of her shoes, or simply push the ball and run right past them.”
Dedini expects Larot to compete right away for playing time on the forward line, joining a squad that returns four of its top five leading scorers from last year.
Larot’s accolades at Evergreen include advancing to the CCS quarterfinals as a sophomore and being named as the Sophomore of the Year by the San Jose Mercury News in 2005. During her freshman season, she was named EVHS Female and Freshman Athlete of the Year. After four years at Evergreen, she is the only student-athlete in her graduating class to letter all four years in three different sports; cross-country, track & field and soccer.
She currently plays for the DeAnza Strykers under head coach Bob Joyce. In 2005 she guided the team to NorCal State Finals. Her club experience also includes playing in the US Soccer Club Regional, Portland Cup, Fustal National Championship and Pleasanton Showcase. The Strykers also made the semifinals of the San Diego Surf Cup and Mustang Stampede, while taking first place at Cal North District Cup.
Most recently, Larot was a part of the 2006 ODP Cal-North State team under head coach John J.T. Hanley. She also played for the District II ODP teams in 2003 and 2004.
An addition for Sacramento State’s midfield, Blatz has played for the Pleasanton Rage U-18 and U-17 club teams for the past two seasons. Her first year with the Rage, she helped guide the team to an appearance in the State Cup Finals, and that same year, was invited to state ODP final tryouts.
“Kylee is extremely hard working and brings a winner’s mentality to the program,” Dedini said of Blatz, who may also see time on the forward line. “One of her best assets as player is her tenacity. She puts unrelenting pressure on her opponents and offensively, she has the quickness to run by players. Kylee’s understanding of the game will allow her to compete for and play several positions. She’s a confident player with tons of upside.”
Blatz is currently a senior at Liberty High School in Brentwood, Calif., playing for head coach Tony Martins. A three-year varsity starter at Liberty, Blatz was slowed by an ankle injury her junior season. As a sophomore, she led the Lions to a second-place finish in the Bay Valley Athletic League and received honorable mention all-BVAL accolades. The past three seasons at Liberty, she was also named to the North Coast Section CIF Distinguished Scholastic Team.
Cristino and Shreve will be additions to a defense that already touts the 2005 co-Big Sky Defender of the Year, Kara Taylor, and 2006 second team all-Big Sky defender Katie Burton.
Cristino is currently a senior at Granite Hills High School in Apple Valley, Calif. A three-year varsity starter, she led the Cougars to the Desert Sky League tile and CIF Division V co-championship during her junior season. Named MVP of the league and CIF Division V Defensive Player of the Year, Cristino was also named MVP of the San Goronio HS Tournament as well as being named all-San Bernardino County first team and all-area Player of the Year.
“Nicole’s most noted quality is her exceptional speed, and that was one of our goals with this recruiting class,” Dedini said. “As a defender, she can play any position on the back line. She is a defender with an intelligent offensive mindset. She knows when to make runs forward and attack out of the back. Nicole is a winner and she will not rest until she finds a way to contribute to our team’s success.”
A starter for her club team Arsenal the last five seasons, Cristino’s team was a Cal South National quarterfinalist in 2005. She also competes in track and has received CIF all-academic honors the past three years. She currently holds a school record in the 100-yard dash.
Shreve has played 10 years with the Pleasanton Rage soccer club, and currently is a senior at Foothill High School. In 2006, as the team’s starting center back, Shreve led the team to a 4-0 record, winning the Tri-Valley Tournament.
This year, the Falcons finished their season with a 12-2-3 overall record and 5-1-3 finish in the East Bay Athletic League.
“Cori is a very athletic and strong defender, but also has the ability to help us out in the midfield,” Dedini said. “She is a very controlled player out of the back, but has the unique quality of not only being a strong defender, but bringing athleticism and speed along with her strength. She has the ability to be a top-notch Division I soccer player and will be a great fit for our program.”
2007 Sacramento State Women’s Soccer Signees
Name Pos. Yr. Hometown/Previous School
Savannah Ambercrombie GK Fr. Sacramento, Calif./El Camino HS
Kylee Blatz Fwd/MF Fr. Brentwood, Calif./Liberty HS
Nicole Cristino Def Fr. Apple Valley, Calif./Granite Hills HS
Leah Larot Fwd Fr. San Jose, Calif./Evergreen Valley HS
Cori Shreve Def Fr. Pleasanton, Calif./Foothill HS