First-Year Head Coach Adds Six Women's Players For 2007 Campaign

First-year Ferris State University women's soccer head coach Neathan Gibson has announced the recent addition of six recruits, all of whom have committed to attend FSU and compete for the Bulldogs beginning with the fall 2007 season.

The group, which represents Gibson's first FSU recruiting class, includes a pair of Schoolcraft (Mich.) College transfer players in defenders Julia Zilan (Wixom) and Chelsey Wagner (Ann Arbor). Additionally, the class includes four prep players in goalkeeper Kathryn "Kayti" Downin (Rockford, Ill./Hononegah), midfielders Kara Lovelace (East Kentwood) and Megan Stec (Novi) along with forward Carlee Boyle (Lockport, Ill.).

Women's Soccer Action The Bulldog women's soccer program has added six recruits for the 2007 season

"This group of players will provide a big lift to our program," Gibson said. "They're all hard workers and good competitors with true soccer mind sets. Academically, they're extremely strong as well."

The 5-4 Zilan, who has two years of collegiate eligibility remaining, was among the nominees for the 2006 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) All-America Team after finishing second among Schoolcraft's leaders with 12 assists during the 2006 campaign. The Ocelots posted a 16-2-2 overall record in 2006 and qualified for the NJCAA Division I National Tournament under head coach Bill Tolstedt while repeating as both regional and district champions for the fourth year in a row. A team captain, Zilan also tallied three goals this past year while earning all-region recognition. She totaled five goals and three assists as a collegiate freshman (2005) for the Livonia (Mich.) institution.

Along with Zilan, Wagner helped Schoolcraft to a fourth-place overall national tournament finish in 2006 with seven assists. As a freshman in 2005, the 5-4 Wagner earned all-tourney team accolades at the national tournament while helping the school to a 17-3-4 overall record. She totaled three assists in her initial collegiate season and will have two years of competition remaining at FSU.

"Both Julia and Chelsey have two years of national tournament experience and are hungry to win," said Gibson. "They're defensive-minded players who will give us strength and experience in the back."

A four-year prep varsity starter at Lockport (Ill.) High School, Boyle is presently midst her final prep season. She earned all-conference honors the last two years and was an all-section team pick in 2005-06. In addition, Boyle has competed for the Windy City Pride Soccer Club and totaled 18 goals while leading the club to a pair of first-place tournament finishes last year. The 5-3 Boyle helped the Windy City Pride to a fourth-place performance in the Illinois State Cup during the 2004-05 campaign. She enters her prep senior season listed third on the school's career assists leaders list.

"Carlee will give us an athletic presence up front and a different dynamic with her speed and vision," Gibson said. "Her addition will aid our depth and allow us to become more offensive in the final third."

The addition of Downin is expected to help offset the loss of four-year Bulldog starting goalkeeper Carla Gilbertson, who concluded her career as the program's all-time winningest keeper last fall. The 5-6 Downin, who has significant prep and club level experience, started in goal as a freshman for Rockford (Ill.) Lutheran High School before spending the last three years at Hononegah Community High School. Additionally, she's competed for a variety of club teams including the Rockford United Soccer Club, FC Rockford Soccer Academy and the Dactyls FC Premier Soccer Club. Currently, she's also the starting goalkeeper for the Rockford Raptors club team in the premier under-17 league and has totaled a 12-4-2 record to date this campaign along with 133 saves and a .936 saves percentage.

"Kayti is solid between the sticks and has the ability to succeed," said Gibson. "I expect her to compete hard with our only returning goalkeeper (Kari Alsager). Hopefully, they'll push each other to be the best they can be, which in turn will help our program."

Stec helped Novi High School claim a second-straight Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) Division I State Championship as a junior in 2006. In the process, the squad became the first team in MHSAA Division I Women's Soccer history to repeat as state champions. The team also posted its first-ever undefeated season (24-0) and won a conference championship for the fourth year in a row under head coach Brian O'Leary. The 5-5 Stec has also played for the Michigan Hawks club team as well as Vardar III and the Livonia Meteors.

Finally, Lovelace helped East Kentwood High School to a 17-2 mark as a junior in 2006 under head coach John Conlon. One of four East Kentwood players who have signed to play collegiate soccer, Lovelace has also competed on the club level for the Grand Valley Soccer Club and is extremely familiar with Gibson, who also works as the director of coaching and player development for the Kentwood-based club.

"Both Kara and Megan have good vision and see the field well," Gibson said. "They'll help compliment the returning players in our program and combined with our other incoming recruits will enable us to take our training systems to the next level."

Gibson directed Ferris State to a 7-11 overall mark along with a fifth-place tying 3-5 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) finish as the program's interim head coach during the fall 2006 campaign. Gibson, who was appointed interim coach prior to the start of the fall season after the departure of former head coach Melissa Lalonde in early August, was appointed the program's permanent head coach this past January.

Ferris' seven victories in 2006 tied for the sixth-highest seasonal total in school history while the squad's 120 total points and 46 goals both represented the highest single-season production in school history. Among FSU's 2007 returnees will be senior midfielder Kristie Smilanich (Kalamazoo/Christian), who became the first All-America player in school history by being named to the 2006 Daktronics All-America First Team.