The UConn women’s soccer team officially announced its incoming class for 2017, which consists of three transfers and ten freshmen.
The group is tasked with helping the team re-tool after losing Emily Armstrong, Maddie Damm, Rachel Hill, Tori Patterson, and Stephanie Ribeiro to graduation as well as Anna Cronin and Annika Schmidt to Hartford and Butler, respectively.
The class is defensive-minded with six defenders and a goalkeeper, along with four midfielders and two forwards.
Here are the newest Huskies:
Courtney Hofer (GK) - TCU/Farmington, CT
Hofer comes to UConn after spending three seasons at TCU where she posted 18 starts. However, she had to split much of the time in goal with the Horned Frogs and decided to return home after graduating this past year.
With three years of Division I experience, Hofer is the frontrunner to start in goal. As a fierce competitor, head coach Len Tsantiris is looking forward to watching Hofer compete this summer.
“It is great to bring a quality player from Connecticut home to UConn,” he said in the press release. “With her experience and ability to read the game, along with her athletic ability, she has the chance to make an impact on the team this fall both on and off the field.”
Vivien Beil (M) - Maine/Jen, Germany
After spending two seasons at the University of Maine, Vivien Biel will solidify an already strong midfield for the Huskies. Named the 2015 America East Rookie of the Year as well as All-Conference First Team in 2016, Beil has the ability to play all over the field.
“She is a versatile player that can influence the game from a number of positions,” said Tsantiris. “Vivi has the potential to be an impact player both on our team and in the conference.”
Before going to Maine, Beil spent time on Germany’s U16, U17, and U19 Youth National Teams. In 2012, she started all five games for Germany where she helped lead her team to a European Championship as well as a fourth-place finish in the U17 FIFA World Cup.
Elena Santos (D) - Fairfield/West Hartford, CT
Another local product, Santos should slide into the spot left by Patterson on defense. She played in all 17 games for Fairfield last season, helping the Stags to four shutouts.
While she played defense last season, Santos played everywhere her freshman year from defense to midfield to forward. It appears she’ll play defense for the Huskies but could move elsewhere depending on the team’s needs.
Melina Couzis (M) Somers HS/Baldwin Place, NY
Couzis is a prototypical center midfield, possessing the ability to distribute the ball all over the field as well as fight for loose balls. Tsantiris describes her as “a special combination of competitive fight and smooth technique,” both solid traits for her position.
In high school, Couzis was named a NSCAA All-American in 2016, earning the chance to play against the top players in the country in the All-American game in Raleigh, NC. She was also a two-time captain in high school and 2014 New York Class A State Champion.
Sara da Silva (D) - Danbury HS/Danbury, CT
One of four in-state players in the class, da Silva is an elite athlete that could have gone Division I in track if she wanted. She reached the Junior Olympic Games twice, competing in the 800M in 2012 and 2013.
As a soccer player, da Silva is technically sound but may need some time to adjust to the next level. However, with her athleticism, da Silva holds tons of potential for the Huskies.
Sophia Danyko-Kulchycky (M) - Horace Greeley HS/Chappaqua, NY
With the Huskies in need of production up top after losing Hill and Ribeiro, Danyko-Kulchycky could see playing time early on. She holds the most combined goals and assists in her high school's history and was named the Co-Player of the Year as a senior.
“Sophia is a wonderfully creative one-on-one player that loves taking players on and is able to create and finish her own chances,” said Tsantiris. “Comfortable in a variety of attacking positions, she has shown she is a constant threat to score from the flank.”
Kess Elmore (F) - Formby HS/Liverpool, England
The sole international player in the freshman class, Elmore comes in with an impressive resume: Four-time Liverpool Player of the Year, a member of England’s U20 National Team and 2014 Youth FA Cup Champion.
With playing time available up top, Tsantiris believes Elmore can contribute sooner rather than later.
“Kess’s experience at playing a very high level, both with the Liverpool Ladies and with the English National Team, should help her transition quickly to the college game,” he said.
Yamilee Eveillard (D) - Valley Stream North/Valley Stream, NY
Another track athlete, Eveillard has the athleticism and technical skills to play multiple positions on the field.
“She has shown the ability to both create and finish chances as an attacking player and can play as an effective attacking outside back,” said Tsantiris. “We look forward to watching her continue to develop as a player because she has some very special abilities.”
A five-year varsity letter winner at her high school, Eveillard was named team MVP in 2015 and Conference Player of the Year in 2015 and 2016.
Paige Liebel (D) - Canterbury School of Florida/St. Petersburg, FL
Although a native of Florida, Liebel spent time playing in Germany with Turbine Potsdam in the Junior Bundesliga. With international experience, Liebel’s smarts are one of her best traits according to her new coach.
“Having played quite a bit in Europe, she has an excellent soccer IQ and sees and reads the game well,” said Tsantiris.
Rachel Marchini (D) - Montville HS/Waterford, CT
Marchini comes in as the brains of the class of 2017, as she was a CIAC Scholar Athlete, Class President, and Salutatorian. However, she matches her intellect with soccer skills, earning team MVP as well as two All-State nods.
“An intelligent player both on and off the field,” said Tsantiris. “Rachel reads the game well and is a constant physical presence while being comfortable with the ball at her feet.”
Julia Petrillo (D) - Academy of the Holy Names/Tampa, FL
A teammate of fellow classmate Paige Liebel at the club level, Petrillo is a versatile player with excellent athleticism along the backline. She was named 2017 Defensive MVP while reaching back-to-back state final fours with her team.
With so many defenders coming in, it will be hard to crack the starting lineup early on but Petrillo has the opportunity to be an impact player for the Huskies.
Visiliky Rizos (M) - Hampshire Regional HS/Westhampton, MA
Rizos brings a strong leadership presence to the Huskies as a three-year captain at her high school. She is a good distributor in the midfield and is known for having a high motor.
“Visi is a very busy and technical player that can play a number of different positions,” said Tsantiris. “Her hard work and constant effort combined with her vision and passing really set her apart during the recruiting process.”
Zoe Steck (F) - Nutley HS/Nutley, NJ
An elite striker in high school, Steck scored the most career goals of any boy or girl in her school’s history with 107, 41 in her senior season.
“Zoe is a strong, physical presence that is very dangerous around the goal. She can both hold the ball with her back to goal and create chances for other players or she can turn and run at players,” said Tsantiris. “She is also someone that is very good in the air and will be someone that opponents will need to account for on set pieces”