RINDGE, N.H. (June 8, 2019) – Head coach Jonathan Garbar and the Franklin Pierce University women’s soccer program are proud to announce the team’s incoming 11-player recruiting class. The group features a quartet of international signings, as well as seven players who will join the Ravens from the American high school ranks.
The international imports hail from three different countries, led by a pair of Spaniards in Gema Fernandez (Madrid, Spain) and Ithaisa Viñoly (Canary Islands, Spain). Meanwhile, Evelina Ihl (Stockholm, Sweden) will join the Ravens from overseas as well, while Keyla Gonzalez Jaen (San Jose, Costa Rica) will remain in the same hemisphere for her trip to Franklin Pierce.
Franklin Pierce’s domestic products all come to Rindge from the Northeast, including a trio of signees from neighboring Massachusetts: Samantha Brody (Clinton, Mass.), Marissa Orlando (Peabody, Mass.) and Zoe Sofferman (Maynard, Mass.). The Ravens have also procured one player each from a quartet of other states in the region: Marissa Gordon (Albany, N.Y.), Emily Lizotte (Hudson, N.H.), Tess McKenzie (Warren, R.I.) and Camille Sahirul (North Haven, Conn.).
Name: Samantha Brody
Hometown: Clinton, Mass.
Previous Teams: Francis W. Parker Charter Central School, FC Stars MA, GPS National Team, GPS Mass State Elite, GPS NH National Team
Accomplishments: Brody participated in the Massachusetts Olympic Development Program as a goalkeeper, striker and midfielder. She was a three-time All-League selection at Francis W. Parker, and the team qualified for the State Championship on three occasions as well. At the club level, Brody earned a championship with GPS NH National Team in 2015 and advanced to the national tournament with GPS Mass State Elite in 2016. She is a first-degree black belt in martial arts and has also competed in horseback riding and track & field, in addition to soccer. Brody has been a class representative in her school’s Community Congress throughout her high school career.
Why she chose Franklin Pierce: “The reason I chose Franklin Pierce University was not only for its strong academics and athletic programs, but also for its beautiful campus; it gives me a home-like feeling. I plan to study either criminal justice or physical therapy throughout my career at Franklin Pierce.”
Coach Garbar on Brody: “Samantha is a player we identified as one with tremendous potential for quite some time. Her blend of athleticism and fearlessness immediately caught the eye of our staff. Additionally, she is capable of effectively stepping into a number of different roles on the pitch, due to her innate qualities. Our staff is looking forward to working closely together with her, refining her skills and exploring the most effective ways to utilize and develop her abilities.”
Name: Gema Fernandez
Hometown: Madrid, Spain
Previous teams: Louisiana Tech, Monroe College, Rayo Vallecano Youth
Accomplishments: Fernandez’s Rayo Vallecano teams earned top-three rankings in each of her two seasons with the club. She was named the Team MVP at Monroe College for the 2017-18 season.
Why she chose Franklin Pierce: “I chose Franklin Pierce because I know that the coaching staff can help me to develop and improve my soccer skills. The team has gotten amazing results and I would love to be part of it. I can´t wait to start, and there is no better way than being back with my extended family: my Coach and my former teammates from my first year in Junior College. Thank you for the opportunity FPU.”
Coach Garbar on Fernandez: “Gema has always possessed a tremendous amount of skill and tactical acumen. Her ability on the ball, and mature decision making were elements that really separated her from her peers. However, over the past three years, it’s been her physical and mental development that have truly propelled her to another level. Couple these factors with her uniquely engaging and impactful character, and it’s clear that we have connected with the right player and person. I am personally thrilled to have the privilege of coaching Gema again.”
Name: Keyla Gonzalez Jaen
Hometown: San Jose, Costa Rica
Previous teams: Costa Rica Youth National Team, Desamparados
Accomplishments: Competing in her native Costa Rica, Gonzalez Jaen twice captured the title in the nation’s major women’s soccer league. She also took home championships from larger tournaments as well, including one which featured teams from across Central America. In addition to her interest in soccer, Gonzalez Jaen is an avid traveler and bike rider.
Why she chose Franklin Pierce: “Playing soccer in the USA always was my dream, for this reason the most important step was to choose a great university. From the first moment Franklin Pierce gave me a great impression, it has a really good program and the team is very good but the most important is how they made me feel. The coach and all his staff are good people, they always want to help you and make you feel comfortable. I took the decision after I visited Franklin Pierce because they gave me the opportunity to know all the people, the campus, and the girls of the team. I liked what I saw, and it is amazing to see how they are with girls that are international. This is important for me to feel secure as I am at my home, so for all of that I chose Franklin Pierce.”
Coach Garbar on Gonzalez Jaen: “Keyla is someone who has worked tremendously hard to realize her competitive goals. We are very impressed by her level of maturity, and humility both on and off the field. She approaches her responsibilities and ambitions with great commitment and pride. On the pitch, her creativity, speed, and fluidity make her more than an exciting player. Combined with her instincts, unselfishness, and comfortability on the ball, witnessing her development within her new program is going to be a sight to see.”
Name: Marissa Gordon
Hometown: Albany, N.Y.
Previous Teams: Guilderland High School, The Alleycats
Accomplishments: Gordon was a four-year starter in the defensive midfield for Guilderland. She was a two-time recipient of the team’s Coaches Award and was also an Honorable Mention All-Area selection as a senior. Gordon served as the team captain in her senior season as well. Off the field, Gordon is a National Honor Society member and is also involved in the Med Cross Club, Student Government and the International Club. She was a chairperson for Student Government and served as the president of the International Club as a senior.
Why she chose Franklin Pierce: “The reason why I chose Franklin Pierce University was because the first time I stepped onto the campus, it felt like home. I attended an ID Clinic and fell in love with the coaching style, the technical and tactical skills that were introduced to me, and most importantly the energetic environment! This school also offers my field of study and to find out that many other students on the soccer team were focused on health sciences, was great to see. FPU was a perfect match academically and athletically for me as an individual.”
Coach Garbar on Gordon: “Marissa immediately impressed our staff with her mature balance of soccer quality and competitive identity. She possesses a blue-collar style of work rate, and is open-minded and excited to learn. Her instincts and presence on the pitch have already given her a tremendous base, and guide her towards the next step of her development. Stepping in as a center back, with the kind of history our back four has achieved these past two seasons, would be a great challenge to any incoming player. We are confident that Marissa has the characteristics as both a player and as a person, to embrace the opportunity.”
Name: Evelina Ihl
Hometown: Stockholm, Sweden
Previous teams: Alvsjo AIK, Tyreso FF G19, Hammarby IF G19, Djurgardens IF G19, Vendelso IK
Accomplishments: Ihl has been a part of numerous soccer programs in her native Sweden, most recently competing in Stockholm’s Division 1, with Alvsjo AIK. Her current club has qualified for the Swedish Cup, which allowed her to compete against teams from Sweden’s highest leagues. In 2016, while with Hammarby IF, Ihl won a silver medal in futsal at the Swedish Championships.
Why she chose Franklin Pierce: “I chose Franklin Pierce University since it seems to be a serious school in both soccer and academics. That is something that is very important for me in order to reach my high-set goals in both parts.”
Coach Garbar on Ihl: “Evelina comes to FPU with a wealth of high-level, competitive experience. One of the elements we found most impressive about her, is the manner in which she has been always seeking to compete in the most challenging environments, at such a young age. Where many players would prefer to be the most impactful competitor on a team whose level is lower than her own, Evelina has always sought out the most challenging settings possible. She has a tremendously balanced ability to impact all phases of play, and has as much of a passion for work, as she does for the game. We love that.”
Name: Emily Lizotte
Hometown: Hudson, N.H.
Previous teams: Alvirne High School, GPS New Hampshire
Accomplishments: At the high school level, Lizotte was a four-year All-State selection, a two-time team MVP, and an Offensive Player of the Year selection as well. She led her team in scoring each of her four seasons, and her 51 career goals established a new program record at Alvirne. With GPS New Hampshire, Lizotte has been the State Cup champion on two occasions.
Why she chose Franklin Pierce: “I choose Franklin Pierce because it had everything I was looking for as a soccer player and as a student. The soccer program here is extremely successful and that was something that I wanted to be a part of. The coaching staff is very experienced and have a passion and love for the game, as well as all of their players, which is extremely attractive to an aspiring college athlete. I was also attracted to the school because it had the programs I was looking for in terms of my field of study, and with the small class sizes, it would be very easy for me to build relationships with my professors and classmates.”
Coach Garbar on Lizotte: “Emily brings with her the distinct ambition and ability to score goals. Her combination of power and pace, coupled with true love for the game will suit her well with her new program. We believe that within our way of play, she will discover great success and stretch the standard she has created for herself. Her athletic ambitions, along with her mature and humble character, make it natural to look forward to our work together. Our staff can’t wait to get on the field with her.”
Name: Tess McKenzie
Hometown: Warren, R.I.
Previous teams: Mt. Hope High School, Bayside FC Bolts
Accomplishments: At the high school level, McKenzie was a four-time All-State and All-League selection and finished her career with 104 points, on 35 goals and 34 assists. Mt. Hope was a three-time state semifinalist during her time on the roster. With Bayside FC, McKenzie collected seven state titles, along with a regional championship and a national semifinal appearance in 2015. In the classroom, she is a National Honor Society and Foreign Language Honor Society member and served as the vice president of her class.
Why she chose Franklin Pierce: “I chose Franklin Pierce University because of the competitive, welcoming, energetic, fun, and highly focused nature of the soccer program I noticed the first time I stepped foot on campus at an ID Clinic. I felt very confident that I would fit into this program in the future since it was everything I was looking for. I also chose FPU because of what the school had to offer for me academically. I have been interested in pursuing a degree in Physical Therapy and Franklin Pierce offers the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program after four years of Health Sciences, which was perfect for me.”
Coach Garbar on McKenzie: “Tess caught our attention due to her composure and quality on the ball. Her vision, and ability to read space and timing are elements that stood out to the staff. Furthermore, she presents herself as an exceptionally grounded and motivated competitor. It is clear that she is committed to engaging and representing a competitive and progressive lifestyle. We are excited to begin our work together, as we recognize a tremendous amount of potential and ability in her.”
Name: Marissa Orlando
Hometown: Peabody, Mass.
Previous teams: Peabody Veterans Memorial High School, Bishop Fenwick High School, NEFC NS Elite
Accomplishments: Orlando is a three-time Salem News All-Star selection, a two-time Eastern Massachusetts All-Star and a three-time All-League selection at the high school level. Her Peabody Veterans team advanced to the sectional final in her senior season, while her Bishop Fenwick teams captured divisional titles in her freshman and sophomore seasons. Orlando was named her team’s Rookie of the Year at Bishop Fenwick in her freshman season.
Why she chose Franklin Pierce: “The reason I chose Franklin Pierce University was I feel that I can get a great education at Franklin Pierce. I also chose Franklin Pierce because I was extremely impressed with their great soccer program. I was very impressed with the coaches as well as how talented and welcoming the team is. “
Coach Garbar on Orlando: “Marissa competes with the kind of vigor and confidence that leaves one surprised that she is an incoming freshman. Her work rate, energy levels, and comfortability with the physical side of things immediately transfer to the expectations our program has for its players. Furthermore, her goal-scoring ambition and instincts, match up with her love of training and commitment to development. Exactly the recipe we look for.”
Name: Camille Sahirul
Hometown: North Haven, Conn.
Previous teams: North Haven High School, Yankee United NPL, GINGA FC
Accomplishments: Sahirul was an All-Conference Second Team and All-Division selection for North Haven in her junior season. She was also the top goal scorer for GINGA FC in 2018. In addition to soccer, Sahirul was also a four-year letterwinner in rifle, indoor track & field and outdoor track & field. She served as team captain for rifle and outdoor track & field as a senior. Academically, Sahirul will graduate in the top 10% of her class at North Haven and is a member of the National Honor Society, the Spanish Honor Society and the Art Honor Society.
Why she chose Franklin Pierce: “I chose Franklin Pierce because the first time I arrived on campus, the views were breathtaking. When I met the members of the team I appreciated their welcoming and friendly atmosphere. As I continued to visit throughout the year, I felt at home and wanted, and the team and students at FPU were accepting and outgoing. The coaches seemed like the most qualified people to be able to bring my game to the next level and motivate me to better myself on and off the field. Watching the FPU women’s soccer team and their style of play is similar to how I see myself playing in the future and continues to amaze me with their talents.”
Coach Garbar on Sahirul: “What impressed us most about Camille was how her ambition and drive for excellence was evident in all areas of her competitive life. She clearly believes in her abilities, but even more so in recognizing the fact that she had not yet come close to reaching her developmental ceiling. Her athleticism, inquisitive nature, and cerebral approach to the game, truly make her an exciting player. Her variety of qualities and cognitive ability, will prove to be most effective within our program as she is someone who can fulfill a number of different roles and be emblematic of the functionality we love to achieve.”
Name: Zoe Sofferman
Hometown: Maynard, Mass.
Previous teams: Maynard High School, Global Premier Soccer
Accomplishments: Sofferman has been an All-State selection at Maynard, and earned team MVP honors along the way as well. She has helped her high school team to multiple postseason appearances.
Why she chose Franklin Pierce: “I chose Franklin Pierce for many reasons, most importantly for the extremely successful women’s soccer team. Aside from that, the close-knit community Franklin Pierce offers, the beautiful campus, and the respected Health Sciences program are what drew me to this school.”
Coach Garbar on Sofferman: “Zoe is a player who competes with the kind of edge and grit that our program appreciates and holds itself accountable to. Her engine in the middle of the field, as well as her love for having the ball at her feet, will absolutely serve her well when she steps on the field with her new teammates. Furthermore, her positive attitude and infectious spirit will certainly prove impactful on the program.”
Name: Ithaisa Viñoly
Hometown: Canary Islands, Spain
Previous teams: San Bartolome, Tacuense, Granadilla
Accomplishments: Viñoly was accomplished enough to be invited to train with her U16 National Team at the age of just 14. She has played for multiple clubs in the Canary Islands, including those which have competed in her nation’s first and second divisions. Viñoly has represented the Canary Islands as a goalkeeper at both the U16 and U18 levels, and has competed at such prestigious tournaments as La Copa De La Reina.
Why she chose Franklin Pierce: “The main reason I chose FPU is to have the ability to combine my studies and sport, effectively. At FPU, what they are searching for is that if you are a student you can participate in sports, and if you are an athlete you can study a college degree. For this, they design programs that allow the development of practical and not just theoretical skills. This way it is possible to arrive better prepared to the labor world. Also, in my case I play soccer, a sport which is still developing here in Spain and that still needs a few more years to look like the professional soccer of the Women's National League, but there is no doubt that it is growing by leaps and bounds. Without a doubt, going to study and play in the United States is the perfect opportunity to live a unique experience in the most open and developed country in the world. For this and many other reasons, I am sure that FPU will broaden my vision and increase confidence in myself.”
Coach Garbar on Viñoly: “Ithaisa exemplifies what our program looks for in young recruits. She is driven, talented, mature, hard-working, and most of all, represents the level of character that aligns naturally with that of our program. Her shot-stopping ability, command of the box, analytical and decision-making qualities, and impressive presence, do not match up with her young age. Her transition to this new environment of competition is one that we are thrilled to be by her side for. This is going to be an adventure that we will all be proud to part of.”
The Ravens are scheduled to open the 2019 campaign at home on Friday, Sept. 6, against Nyack, with a 4 p.m. kickoff. The team will open its Northeast-10 Conference schedule eight days later, at home against Southern Connecticut State on Saturday, Sept. 14, at 7 p.m.
For more information on Franklin Pierce Athletics, please visit the official website of Franklin Pierce Athletics (https://www.fpuravens.com). Also be sure to follow the Ravens through the Department of Athletics’ official Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/FranklinPierceRavens), its YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/franklinpiercesports) and its Twitter feed (http://twitter.com/FPUathletics). Fans wishing to purchase Franklin Pierce soccer apparel can do so at the Department of Athletics’ brand new online store (https://www.fpuravens.com/store).