DeKALB, Ill. - With a full year under his belt and one of the biggest turnrounds in the country last season, Northern Illinois' head women's soccer coach John Ross added six signees in the Class of 2013.
The Huskies will usher in three defenders, two midfielders and a goalkeeper in the class, ranging geographically as far West as Arizona and as South as Texas.
"There are a lot of athletic players coming in and they are going to come in and compete right away for jobs and really add quite a bit of depth," said Ross. "A lot of players (in this year's class) have not yet reached their potential or plateaued. They will reach that level here in our program.
"From where we were last year, to the season we had in 2012 and with the returners that we have, we are going to be very deep and very competitive next season," added Ross. "A lot of of hard work from Christie (Chappell), Connor (McKee), along with supportstaff, has really paid off."
When asked about the versatility of the class, Ross added "some of them may be coming in and playing defense, some of them may be playing in the midfield. These kids are very athletic players, some are multi-sport athletes at their high schools as well. There is some flexibility with these players, a lot of them have played defense but they have played other positions as well."
Coach Ross also talked about the geography of this year's class and said "we want to get the best kids available to play here at Northern Illinois. We only had one Illinois recruit this season, and we are actively recruiting the state for next season, but we want to build a diverse culture in our program and give kids a new experience here."
Ross, entering his second season next fall, led the Huskies to an 8-9-2 record in 2012 and NIU's first Mid-American Conference Tournament appearance since 2010 with the MAC's top-defense (19 goals allowed). The gaffer took over the women's soccer program Jan. 24, 2012, only three months removed from its 2-15-2 campaign. Northern Illinois returned 17 letterwinners from the previous season with only four graduates lost to graduation.
The 2013 Huskies will return 23 players, including second team All-MAC goalkeeper Amy Carr, and welcome the six signees to the team as well. Ross reiterated the the value of the class, adding "all of these kids are going to come in and compete for time right away and with the players we have coming back with the momentum we have already built from last year, it is going to be an exciting fall in 2013."
Complete bios and quotes from Coach Ross on the Class of 2013 are on pages 2-4 of the packet.
Follow the women's soccer program on NIUHuskies.com, Facebook (Northern Illinois University Women's Soccer) and on Twitter (@NIUWomensSoccer) for updates throughout the season.
SIGNING DAY NOTES: Defender Margaret Rivera (Lake in the Hills) is the lone recruit from the state of Illinois ... Jess Wooldridge's (Center Point, Iowa) father Andy, played tight end at NIU in 1984-85 ... Haley Cummings (Spring, Texas) was home schooled throughout high school but is finishing her senior year in Naperville ... Jackie Wandt (Brookfield, Wis.) was ranked on Top Drawer Soccer's Top-20 Players in the Midwest in the Class of 2013 ... Riley Riordan (St Louis Park, Minn.) moved to Minnesota halfway through her sophomore year ... Alex Elias' (Phoenix, Ariz.) club team, SC Del Sol, reached the semifinals of the prestigious 2012 Surf Cup.