BERKELEY – The California women’s soccer program has signed 12 standout players to National Letters of Intent, head coach Neil McGuire announced Wednesday. The recruiting class, which today TopDrawerSoccer.com rated as the No. 5 class in the country, is highlighted by five national team members, and a total of 10 five and four star recruits.
The new Golden Bears are: Indigo Gibson, Guro Bergsvand, Tori Bolden, Emily Boyd, Annia Mejia, Heather Walleigh, Isabel Damiani, Haley Lukas, Bryce Watts, Melissa Lewis, Melissa Wood, and Staci Burland.
“We are very excited about our 2014 recruiting class,” McGuire said. “We have been fortunate to attract many highly talented players to join us and it is a class that will help us continue Cal’s strong soccer tradition.
Of the 12, seven athletes hail from southern California and three are Bay Area locals, while Cal also net a player from Washington, and one transplant from Oslo, Norway. The Golden Bears add five defenders, two midfielders, three forwards, and two goalkeepers to the roster with the incoming class.
The new Bears join a team that has reached the NCAA Tournament in 10 consecutive seasons and produced a number of professional players on both the domestic and internation level, including U.S. Women’s National Team superstar Alex Morgan, New Zealand Football Ferns’ starter Betsy Hassett and Liverpool Ladies and Icelandic National Team member Katrin Omarsdottir. In 2013, Cal produced an 11-5-5 record and reached the first round of the NCAA Women’s Soccer Tournament, which followed a 16-6 record and appearance in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2012.
“Each of these women are academically focused, athletically motivated and understand that being a Cal women’s soccer player means more than just what we do on the field. They are dedicated to playing like champions but also are committed to the ideals of our program," McGuire said.
Get to know each of Cal’s 12 signees below:
Hometown: Las Flores, Calif.
School: Tesoro High School
Club: Slammers FC
The Basics: Indigo Gibson, a defender and five-star player according to Top Drawer soccer, joins the Bears from Las Flores, Calif. Gibson, who Top Drawer Soccer has as the No. 12 recruit in the country, was named conference Player of the year as a junior at Tesoro High School. The varsity soccer player also ran cross country and track at Tesoro while playing club soccer for Slammers FC, where she was awarded CalSouth Female Player of the Year for 2013. She was also named to the All-CIF Third Team as a junior.
What Head Coach Neil McGuire says: “Indigo is a very talented all-around player. She can play multiple positions to a very high level. She is blessed with great technical skill, is a fine passer of the ball, and has exceptional speed."
Why I chose Cal: “I chose Cal because I loved the atmosphere on campus and as those typical stories go, Cal just felt like home to me. I felt that by getting both a soccer experience and an education from Cal, new doors will open for me in my years after college. It was also a completely different feel than the environment I live in at home. It is a new chapter in my life that I cannot wait for."
Hometown: Oslo, Norway
School: Wans High School
Club: Stabaek Soccer Club
The Basics: A center midfielder from Oslo, Norway, Bergsvand joins Cal with international playing experience from the U-19 European Championships. The four-star Top Drawer Soccer talent also played in the Norway Cup and represented her country as a member of the U-17 and U-19 National Teams. Bergsvand was named Player of the Year in 2013 at Wans High School and was a member of Stabaek Soccer Club.
What Head Coach Neil McGuire says: “Guro is a very gifted holding midfield player who has great vision and a strong passing game. Her passing range, coupled with our speed on the front line is going to force teams to have to make tough decisions on where to play their backline. Guro has great composure and sense for the tempo of the game.”
Hometown: Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
School: Los Osos High School
Club: Fram F.C.
The Basics: A forward and Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. native, Bolden was Los Osos High School’s top scorer as a junior. Bolden is a four-star athlete and ranks as the No. 40 recruit in the country, according to Top Drawer Soccer. She was named All-CIF and MVP Offensive player two years in a row. Bolden helped lead Fram F.C. to the Region IV U.S. Youth Soccer National Championship in 2012 and 2013. She also attended 2013 U-18 National Camp and was named 2013 US Youth Soccer Best XI.
What Head Coach Neil McGuire says: “Tori is a natural goal scorer and will torment opposing defenses with her blistering pace. She has a knack for making goalscoring chances out of nothing and the ability to be a major impact."
Why I chose Cal: "I chose Cal because I instantly fell in love with the school. I knew it was the right fit for me."
Hometown: Seattle, Wash.
School: Nathan Hale High School
Club: Crossfire Premier
The Basics: Goalkeeper Emily Boyd comes to Cal from Seattle, Wash., where she was a four-year varsity soccer player at Nathan Hale High School. Boyd is a four-star athlete and ranks as the No. 43 recruit in the country according to Top Drawer Soccer. She was named to the All-Metro First Team as a freshman after shutting out oppnonents in the first ten games of the season. She attended ECNL National Training Camp in 2013 and was invited to the ODP Regional Team event in Costa Rica. Boyd played for Crossfire Premier and was named to the U.S. U-15 National team twice and U-18 National team once.
What Head Coach Neil McGuire says: “Emily is a special talent in goal. She has very good shot-stopping ability, good reactions and is comfortable with crosses. Emily strikes a ball superbly well and will create many opportunities for us in transition moments."
Why I chose Cal: "Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to go to a California school. I stepped on the campus and it felt like home. Along with half my family living there, Cal is one of the best school in the country with both academics and athletics in one. Last but not least, the coaches are amazing and I don't think I would want anyone else coaching and looking out for me for the next four years of my career. Go Bears!"
Hometown: Bloomington, Calif.
School: Bloomington High School
Club: Fram Soccer Club
The Basics: Annia Mejia, a centerback from Bloomington, Calif., joins the Bears after playing four years of varsity soccer at Bloomington High School, where she was First Team All-League every year. She is the No. 25 recruit in the country and is a four-star athlete, according to Top Drawer Soccer. Mejia made All-CIF Third Team as a sophomore and All-CIF Second Team as a junior. She has led her high school team to league championships two years in a row and set a school record for the most goals in a season at 19. She also played club ball with Fram Soccer Club.
What Head Coach Neil McGuire says: “Annia in a highly gifted soccer player. She is very composed, highly skilled and outstanding in the air. She can play a number of positions very well and her versatility will prove valuable this season. Annia is also a fierce competitor."
Why I chose Cal: “I chose Cal because it is one of the best schools in the nation academically. The women's soccer program is excellent. Cal is the best fit for me because it's a university that will help me grow as a student and as an athlete.”
Hometown: Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.
School: Santa Margarita Catholic High School
Club: West Coast Futbol Club
The Basics: Heather Walleigh is a forward and four-star Top Drawer Soccer recruit who hails from Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. At Santa Margarita Catholic High School, Walleigh played varsity soccer and also ran one year of varsity track. She played club soccer with West Coast Futbol Club’s U-18 ECNL team. She was also a member of the 2013 National Champion ODP Cal South ’96 team.
What Head Coach Neil McGuire says: “Heather is an extremely powerful and explosive forward who can create chances due her remarkable speed. She can score in a multitude of ways and will be a fine asset on our front line.”
Why I chose Cal: “I chose Cal because it was everything I wanted in a university. The first time I stepped foot on Berkeley's beautiful campus I couldn't see myself going anywhere else. From the athletics to the amazing academics there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to be a Bear."
Hometown: Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.
School: Palos Verdes Peninsula High School
Club: Bay League Blues & Southern California Soccer
The Basics: Isabel Damiani is a defender who joins Cal from Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. and a three-year varsity starter at Palos Verdes Peninsula High School. She is a four-star athlete according to Top Drawer Soccer. Damiani was team captain in 2013 and ran varsity track in 2012. She has played club ball for the Bay League Blues and Southern California Soccer clubs, where she received an outstanding defense award. Her team was named Bay League Champions two years in a row and also won the ECNL Southern California Conference Championship in 2013.
What Head Coach Neil McGuire says: “Isabel is a smooth and composed defender who fits very well into our possession-style game. She has good pace, and solves problems in a very efficient way. She is simple in her play and executes well.”
Why I chose Cal: “I chose to commit to Cal because the school not only excels in academics but also has an amazing soccer program. The Cal team is able to play at an impressively high level of soccer while simultaneously experiencing that noteworthy education and social diversity that the university offers. Visiting the campus and seeing how welcoming these future teammates are, I could easily picture myself attending Cal. The incredible athletic facilities and various vegetarian options are only a bonus. I'm excited to be a Golden Bear playing in the Pac-12 next year!”
Hometown: Pleasanton, Calif.
School: Foothill High School
Club: Mustang Soccer Club
The Basics: Haley Lukas is one of the few Bay Area natives joining the Bears next year. The defender from Pleasanton, Calif. comes to Cal with four years of varsity soccer and track experience at Foothill High School, where she was team captain for three years in both sports. Lukas was named First Team All-League two years in a row in soccer and three years in a row in track. She also played club ball with Mustang Soccer Club and was a member of the ODP-State soccer team from 2008-2011. Lukas is a four-star recruit according to Top Drawer Soccer.
What Head Coach Neil McGuire says: “Haley is a first class defender who loves to attack out of the back. She is naturally left-footed and is a very good passer of the ball which will add a great deal to our offense. She is also blessed with tremendous speed.”
Why I chose Cal: "I chose Cal it was the all-around best fit for me. The uniqueness of Berkeley, the excellence in academics as the top public university in the world, and being a part of one of the top-ranked soccer programs made Cal my No. 1 choice."
Hometown: Torrance, Calif.
School: Bishop Montgomery High School
Club: Fram F.C.
The Basics: Bryce Watts is a left wing who joins the Bears from Torrance, Calif. She is a varsity soccer player at Bishop Montgomery High School where she received seven honor awards for her 4.0+ GPA. Watts was a member of the Fram F.C. team that won the 2013 Regional Championship, and a 2012 ODP National Champion and runner-up in 2011. She is a four-star talent according to Top Drawer Soccer.
What Head Coach Neil McGuire says: “Bryce is a dynamic left-sided attacking player who has excellent service and a powerful shot. She is crafty with the ball and gets into back space very well.”
Why I chose Cal: “I chose Cal because of its academic prestige, diverse student body, and the large-school feel. I love the atmosphere and I can already see myself there, and it has a great soccer program.”
Hometown: Danville, Calif.
School: San Ramon Valley High School
Club: Mustang Soccer Club
The Basics: Melissa Lewis, a center midfielder from Danville, Calif., comes to Cal with four years of varsity soccer experience at San Ramon Valley High School. She was named team captain as a senior and was named to the EBAL Second Team two years in a row. She is a three-time NCS and CIF Scholar Athlete. Lewis aided the Mustang Soccer Club to CYSA-N State Cup Championships in 2008 and 2010. She is a four-star recruit according to Top Drawer Soccer.
What Head Coach Neil McGuire says: “Melissa has great creative flair, and plays the No. 10 role very well. She has the ability to score and assist and will prove dangerous when attacking our opponents backline."
Why I chose Cal: “I chose Cal because it offers me the opportunity to play the highest level of soccer at one of the top academic universities in the country. Coach McGuire and his staff have developed an amazing soccer program at Cal and I’m excited to be a part of it! I also love that Berkeley is close to my home and I will have the opportunity to play in front of both family and friends.”
Hometown: Belmont, Calif.
School: Carlmont High School
Club: Mountain View Los Altos (MVLA) Soccer Club
The Basics: Melissa Wood is a defender who joins the Bears from Belmont, Calif. The varsity starter at Carlmont High School was named co-captain as a junior and 2013 Player of the Year in the Peninsula Athletic League. She aided her team in winning the 2012 Peninsula League Championship and also ran varsity track as a freshman and sophomore. Wood has played with the MVLA (Mountain View Los Altos) Soccer Club from 2010-2014, where her squad won the 2010 US Youth Soccer National Championship. Wood's and her team also claimed the 2010 and 2012 West Regional Championships, plus the 2011 Surf Cup Championship and 2011 Cal-North State Club Championship.
What Head Coach Neil McGuire says: "Melissa is an accomplished outside defender who loves to attack. She keeps possession of the ball well and has a very good soccer I.Q.”
Why I chose Cal: “I chose Cal because it has an excellent academic program, soccer at the highest level and coaches that really care about our success in the classroom and in life, not just on the field. Plus, Berkeley is a diverse and fun place with a fascinating history.”
Hometown: Carlsbad, Calif.
School: La Costa Canyon High School
Club: San Diego Surf
The Basics: Staci Burland is a goalkeeper who joins Cal from Carlsbad, Calif. The four-year varsity starter at La Costa Canyon High School was named Scholar Athlete two years in a row. She was named Co-MVP and helped lead La Costa Canyon to a CIF Championship. She also played club ball with the San Diego Surf for ten years, and won the Surf Cup Championship in 2013. Burland has been the captain of her San Diego Surf team for four years.
What Head Coach Neil McGuire says: “Staci is a talented and experienced goalkeeper who has good technique and a very good upside. She has good hands, distribution and is a very good shot-stopper."
Why I chose Cal: "I chose Cal because it has always been a dream of mine to play in the Pac-12. The thing that I loved most about Cal was how all the coaches made me feel extremely welcome and like I was a part of something. Not only does it have a fantastic soccer program, it also offers top academics that you can't get at most universities."