CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Virginia field hockey coach Michele Madison has announced the signing of five future student-athletes who will join the Cavaliers this fall.
Maddie DeCerbo (Surf City, N.J./Southern Regional), Jenny Johnstone (Paisley, Scotland/The High School of Glasgow), Kelsey LeBlanc (Haverford, Pa./Haverford), Rachel Sumfest (Lewisburg, Pa./Lewisburg) and Jessica White (Linfield, Australia/Ravenswood School for Girls) have signed National Letters of Intent to be members of the Virginia program in 2011-12.
"This class collectively has as much potential as any class I have ever recruited," Madison said. "They are all exceptional students and will thrive in Virginia's academic environment. Not only do they play multiple positions already, they are dynamic and mobile with and without the ball. Speed tips the scale in favor of these highly regarded young athletes. Sumfest and White love to go to the goal. Johnstone and DeCerbo take the defensive role personally; LaBlanc will surprise people.
"The future keeps getting brighter for UVa field hockey. This class complements the current roster and will undoubtedly be great ambassadors for the University of Virginia."
DeCerbo, a back, was the 2010 Ocean County Player of the Year and a three-time all-conference selection out of Southern Regional High School. She is a two-time participant in U.S. Junior National Camp and competed for the Spirit of USA club for five years.
"We are happy to welcome another Spirit of USA player to UVa," Madison said. "There are not many young players who thrive on their defensive role as Maddie DeCerbo. Her commitment and dedication to defense reminds me of a 1996 Olympian, Pam Bustin (Madison's former assistant coach). She took her defensive role personally, and so does Maddie. If you don't beat her the first time, you will have to try, try and try again. She does not go away."
"From the moment Maddie stepped on the field as a freshman, I knew one day she would play for a good college field hockey program," Katy Snyder, DeCerbo's coach, said. "Her knowledge and love of the sport, her athleticism and her leadership by example and encouragement have made her the person she is."
Johnstone has 33 international caps representing her native Scotland and is currently training with the under-21 national team. A goalkeeper, she helped her squad to two west district runner-up performances and a championship in 2010.
"Jenny lives and breathes the position," Madison said. "Her quickness and aggressiveness, yet composed style, will be an added strength to the goalie team. The lengthy recruiting process should pay big dividends for Jenny and UVa. When she finally realized there was not a better field hockey and academic combination in the United States, she enthusiastically chose Virginia."
LeBlanc is a first-team all-state selection out of Haverford High School. She led the squad with a team-best 20 goals and 17 assists as a senior en route to a Central League Championship. A midfielder, LeBlanc also played three seasons with the WC Eagles club team.
"Kelsey plays older than her years," Madison said. "She understands the fundamental tactics and uses it to build the midfield play. Her club coaches - June and Richard Kentwell from the WC Eagles - and her high school experience have prepared Kelsey to play Virginia's attacking style; she is a perfect fit. She's mobile because she can read the play. Add to that mobility a keen anticipation fired by a mentally tough "thrive under the pressure" composure and you get Kelsey LaBlanc at her best."
"Kelsey's competitive spirit adds a remarkable degree of focus and intensity to the game," Samantha Lloyd, LeBlanc's coach, said. "Stellar stick work paired with her ability to neatly distribute the ball add to her effectiveness on the pitch. Her competitive spirit coupled with her skills makes her a significant attacking threat."
Sumfest is a Futures Eilte selection who helped her team win the junior women's national championship in 2010. A forward out of Lewisburg High School, Sumfest was a first-team all-state selection as a senior last fall. She is also a member of the Pennsylvania Junior High Performance team.
"Rachel believes she was born to score," Madison said. "She is fearless; she has played defense but loves to attack. We want her to attack. Mentored extensively by Bill Guadette and Mendoza (Argentina former national coach), Rachel has really taken advantage of the opportunities to become an impact player."
"Rachel's dedication and love of the game made her the best player in our area," Sumfest's coach, Emily O'Connor, said. "She is a natural leader with creative vision, an unselfish teammate and the easiest player on the field to coach. UVa will provide the most competitive atmosphere where she will be challenged and continue to thrive at an elite level. Lewisburg will miss her, but we are so proud of her and wish her all the best."
White, another forward, joins Virginia's Elly Buckley and Chloe Pendlebury as a third in a trio of Australians on the Virginia roster. She has spent the past five years as a member of the IGSSA hockey team.
"Jessica was also looking for a university that would provide a powerful academic opportunity with the highest field hockey challenge," Madison said. "She will thrive in UVa's fast-paced attacking system and high pressing defensive routine adding fire power and speed to the front line."
"It was only two years ago that Jess switched from high level soccer to concentrate on her hockey," White's coach and current president of Australia Hockey, Stuart Grimshaw, said. "In this time she has developed into an amazing and exciting player whose speed and athleticism is fantastic to watch. She has incredible potential and tries to achieve this each time she has a stick in her hand."