MORAGA, Calif. — The Saint Mary’s women’s soccer team announced the signing of a total of nine newcomers in the class of 2017. In the first of a two-part series, we’ll take a look at the new goalies aimed to compete for the top goalkeeper position, and the defenders poised to strengthen the backline.
"We are excited about this new group of Gaels,” said head coach Travis Clarke. “It is important for us to improve in a few areas and this class has the potential to do just that. This class fits in well with the group from last year and also ties into the 2018 class very well. We feel we improved our team speed, athletic ability and competitiveness today and we are excited to add these young women into our group next fall."
Sonja Rajatalo(center photo)
Club: ONS (Oulu Nice Soccer) Finland
High School: Mäkelänrinne High School
Sonja Rajatalo played her club competition for FC Honka and ONS in Finland. Rajatalo was also an accomplished youth keeper for her national team. She was a member of the u15, u16, u17 and u19 Finland National Team.
"Once we knew she was looking to attend a school in the United States and play soccer I had our goalie coach go and observe her a few times in Finland. It was important for us to see her live and not just from a video. She is an athletic goalie with good size. Her international experience playing for her country in the youth national team program will be great for us at SMC. She improves our team for sure are I am excited to see her training with us on a daily basis." - Travis Clarke
"It has always been a dream of mine to go to college in the United States. At Saint Mary's I can combine high level academic education and soccer. I am really looking forward to becoming a Gael." - Sonja Rajatalo
Brenna Crow (top left photo)
Club: San Diego Surf ECNL & Albion SC
High School: Patrick Henry High School
Brenna Crow is an outstanding talent that will add depth and pace on the outside for the Gaels. Crow was a 2-star recruit by Top Drawer soccer and also excelled in the classroom. She was honored on the San Diego Union All-Academic team.
"Brenna is a hard working outside defender who does a good job at getting up and down the flanks out of the back. She has good club level experience where she has been coached by coaches I respect a lot. She adds depth to our group of defenders" - Travis Clarke
"The first time I stepped on the campus, I knew this is where I wanted to continue playing the sport I love and further my education. The welcoming environment and small scale classrooms are a perfect fit for myself." - Brenna Crow
Valerie Sue Meyer (bottom left photo)
Club: San Juan ECNL
High School: Carson High School
Meyer is an accomplished player with a tremendous resumé. She was named to the All-State Nevada first team, and was a member of the Nevada Olympic Development Program (ODP) from 2012-15. She was also a member of the 2016 Player Development Program (PDP) in 2016 and was named a Top Drawer 3-star recruit. Meyer won the Sierra League Defensive Player of the Year award in 2015 and 2016.
She helped Carson high school to an undefeated record (16-0-2) and the Sierra League Championship in 2016. Meyer was an outstanding track athlete, as she holds the school record in the 400 meter and was the regional champion in 2014.
"Valerie is a very hard working defender who brings a lot of competitiveness and toughness to our roster. She has good size, is a good athlete and can play several defensive positions for us." - Travis Clarke
"I chose saint Mary's because I couldn't find any reason not to come here. It is a beautiful campus, with small class sizes, an amazing business program and a great soccer program. I couldn't ask for anything more. I am beyond blessed to be looking forward to spending the next four years here." - Valerie Sue Meyer
Kelsey Hill (bottom right photo)
Club: San Juan ECNL
High School: Cosumnes Oaks High School
A Top Drawer 3-star recruit from Cosumnes Oaks High School, Kelsey Hill will immediately bring a physical presence and toughness to the Gaels defense. Hill was on the IMG Academy top-150 National Recruit List for 2015 and 2016, and was a three-time all league member in high school. She was also part of the Player Development Program from 2011-15.
Kelsey was also selected to the ECNL ID2 National Camp in 2016. The camp included 85 of the top female youth soccer players born in 1998, 1999 and 2000 in the United States.
"Kelsey is one of the best one vs. one defenders we saw while recruiting. She has good size and is an elite athlete. She is someone who can play multiple positions if needed. We anticipate Kelsey being competitive for playing time in our back line early in her playing career at SMC. She is someone who can lock a side of the field down defensively while at the same time applying pressure on the opponent because of her ability to get forward in the attack." - Travis Clarke
"I chose Saint Mary's college of California because of their amazing coaching staff, and players, along with their competitive athletic programs and impressive academics. Saint Mary's is a beautiful school that I am extremely excited to attend while perusing my degree in engineering and playing D1 soccer." - Kelsey Hill
Maleah Milner (top right photo)
Club: Placer United
High School: Robert McQuen
Milner is an accomplished keeper with a strong background and great athletic ability. She participated at the US Soccer National Training Center in 2013 and 2014. She was also a member on the 2012-13 Nevada Olympic Development Program (ODP) and 2015 Cal North Player Development Program. Milner was an excellent student-athlete, claiming the Willa Cather Book Award for the highest academic achievement in english.
She also won the 2015 Surf Cup Championship with Placer United.
"Maleah is a very active, athletic and smart goalie. She plays with a great deal of confidence and is very vocal with her back line and how she organizes the defenders within the game. She is a very athletic shot stopping goalie who will be competitive for the position in 2017." - Travis Clarke
"I chose to come to Saint Mary's because I really feel like the players and staff share my passion for the game and desire to be the best. After seeing the gorgeous campus, and learning about the high caliber of education offered, I had no doubt that it would be a perfect fit. The academics, athletics and location really impressed me but the people are truly my favorite part. I can't wait to be a Gael!" - Maleah Milner
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