By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The largest signing class in his tenure, head coach Steve Springthopre and the Tennessee Tech soccer team certainly made their presence felt with the addition of 11 incoming freshmen during Wednesday's National Letter of Intent Signing Day.
Sarah Block, Emily Carlevato, Macy Carter, Bailey Coyner, Anna Croxall, Hannah Goralnick, Bry Hack, Meg Ivey, Cassie McKinney, Bailey Tailor and Kendall Webb will all throw on purple and gold in the near future, committing to Tech to make up the largest of six signing classes with Springthorpe at the helm.
"We needed this class to be much larger in number due to the fact that we graduated so many players over the last year and a half," TTU head coach Steve Springthorpe claimed. "We specifically went out and tried to find the best players that would help our program right away. We are excited about this group and what they are capable of."
There is an in-state vibe that drapes over the group of 11, with 10 hailing from Tennessee. Hanna Goralnick (Minn.) is the only one that will join the Golden Eagle ranks outside of the Volunteer State.
"We specifically went out and tried to find players from Tennessee, which to have that many from the state is a little different for us," Springthorpe said. "We believe this class fits the profile of our team, both from a personality perspective and how we like to play."
Sarah Block enters her Tech tenure after showing an uncanny ability to do a little bit of everything throughout an impressive high school career. A defender for four years at Collierville High School in Collierville, Tenn., Block still managed to pack a prep resume filled with offensive achievements. The 5-foot-6 incoming freshman scored 26 goals and notched 47 assists in four seasons at Collierville, helping guide her squad to a pair of state finals appearances and a regional championship in 2018. From the defensive side of the equation, Block played a huge factor in navigating her team to 15 shutouts during her senior campaign.
"Sarah put together a great high school career and what we also like about her is that she has had high level club experience as well," Springthorpe said. "Like many in this class, we've had the chance to watch her for a while now and have seen that she is a defensive player who is able to get forward in the attack. We like how Sarah is attack-oriented and she also possesses good pace, has a strong IQ and is very technical. She fits what we are looking for in a defensive role."
In the club circuit, Block enjoyed a strong run as a member of the Lady Lobos Rush Premier team out of the Memphis area. The Collierville, Tenn. product has been a mainstay with the program since 2008, and played a significant role as a defender for a club that captured a state championship in 2015 and 2018, to go along with a 2018 Southern Regional Premier League title.
Emily Carlevato enjoyed a star-studded run at Bearden High School in Knoxville, Tenn., securing a slew of noteworthy accolades throughout her career. A four-time All-District and three-time All-Region winner, Carlevato was also twice named the District 2-AAA Midfielder of the Year. The Knoxville native ended her four years with 25 goals and 23 assists, highlighted by a 10-goal, 14-assist senior season.
"We've had a chance to see Emily over a number of years during her time at FC Alliance, where she has had a couple of different roles for them," Springthorpe said. "I've seen her play as an outside back, which is kind of the role we recruited her in, but she's also played in a midfield role and a little bit wider in the attack. I think for us, at least initially, I could see her playing as an outside back. Emily is very technical on the ball, makes good passes, and will have an opportunity to challenge for a spot as a defender."
Carlevato suited up for a decade with FC Alliance out of the Knoxville area. During her time with the program, the incoming TTU rookie was part of a team that claimed a Tennessee state championship in 2015.
A four-year letter winner out of Station Camp High School in Gallatin, Tenn., Macy Carter secured a slew of impressive awards and honors during her time within the prep ranks. Serving as a defender, Carter was named a three-time District MVP and a two-time All-Mid State player. The Hendersonville native helped guide her team to two region championships, playing a pivotal role in leading her squad to a combined 30 shutouts throughout her high-school tenure. From an offensive perspective, the incoming Tech rookie registered 11 goals and collected 28 assists in four seasons.
"Macy is another defender, one of many we have brought in to try and fit a specific need for us," Springthorpe said. "We've been able to watch her play for a couple of years now and have taken notice on how good of an athlete she is. Macy is quick and closes well on players and we see her as a center back that can also play as an outside back. Like many in this class, she plays a style that suits our team."
From a club perspective, Carter suited up for 10 years with the Tennessee United Soccer Club, serving as the team captain for the past five years. Among the highlights, Carter helped navigate her squad to DI state-finalist appearances in 2014, 2017 and 2018.
A two-sport athlete out of Soddy Daisy High School in the Soddy-Daisy, Tenn., Bailey Coyner suited up as a goalkeeper in addition to playing tennis in the prep ranks. A three-time All-District and two-time All-Region player, Coyner was named the 2016 Rookie of the Year for her work between the pipes. The incoming Golden Eagle freshman also played for the Chattanooga Football Club Academy and helped lead her team to a state championship in 2017-18.
"Bailey is a little bit of a late addition as a goalkeeper, who came to our camp last year and has had a huge interest in Tennessee Tech," Springthorpe said. "She is growing in the position and impressed us enough to give her an opportunity. Bailey has a great work ethic and can come here and challenge for playing time. She will be able to come in and improve her craft as a goalkeeper."
Anna Croxall comes to Tennessee Tech after a successful career at Girls Preparatory School in Chattanooga, Tenn. Playing as a center mid, Croxall was a key cog in her squad's DII-AA region and state championships in 2018. On the club level, the Chattanooga native was part of FC Alliance and the Chattanooga Football Club, where she helped send her team to a state championship title.
"Anna came to our ID camp and is a good, solid player that we are excited about," Springthorpe said. "She is coming off an ACL injury and is just getting back into playing in the last six, seven months. What we like about her is that she is aggressive and understands the role of a holding midfielder. Anna will fit in well in regards to how we like to play and what we expect out of the position."
Hannah Goralnick is the lone player in the class of 11 that is outside that state of Tennessee, entering the Golden Eagle ranks out of Mahtomedi High School in Mahtomedi, Minn. A two-year letter winner as a midfielder, Goralnick took home All-Conference recognition, while playing a pivotal role in guiding her team to a Minnesota 1A State Champion in 2017.
"We saw Hannah play with her club team and has come to an ID camp here," Springthorpe said. "She is a really good soccer player and will fit into the midfield, which is what her primary position is. Hannah has a great soccer IQ, is technically strong and understands her role and what she is good at. With us graduating our holding mids, we will need some help there and believe that Hannah will step in nicely."
Goralnick also enjoyed a strong stint in the club circuit with Eclipse Select Minnesota. Among the highlights, the incoming Tech rookie helped push her squad to championships in the Players Development Showcase in New Jersey, the St. Louis Scott Gallegher Fall Classic in Missouri, the Crossroads of America and the GP Elite Indoor Invitational. Goralnick was also part of a club that was a finalist for the Minnesota State Cup in 2018.
A four-sport athlete at Grace Christian Academy in Knoxville, Tenn., Bry Hack participated in soccer, track, volleyball and basketball. On the pitch, Hack lettered for three years as a goalkeeper, holding midfielder and a center back. The native of Paducah, Ky. led her team to a district and regional championship, taking home All-District, All-Region and All-State honors in the process. Hack was also a member of FC Alliance, suiting up for the Knoxville based club for two years.
"Bry was kind of a late addition to us as a goalkeeper, who has been to a couple of our camps and our goalkeeper coach Kelsey [Brouwer] knows her relatively well," Springthorpe said. "Bry should get an opportunity to come in here and battle for a chance to play. Izzy [Austin] is our returning goalkeeper and is fitting herself to be our number one goalkeeper now that Kari has left, but we need other goalkeepers who can come in and challenge, train and compete. We expect Bry to come in here and do well."
Meg Ivey stays home, signing with the Golden Eagles out of Cookeville High School. During her four years on the pitch with the Cavaliers, Ivey was a two-time All-District performer, to go along with an All-District accolade as a track athlete as well. Ivey helped lead Cookeville to district titles all four years to go along with a pair of region championships. In 33 matches, she found the back of the net 27 times and recorded 15 assists. From a club perspective, Ivey was a member of the Tennessee Soccer Club in addition to her time with the Tennessee Olympic Development Program.
"We've had the chance to see Meg quite a bit over the last couple of years with her being a local kid," Springthorpe said. "Our Associate Head Coach Corey Boyd has had the opportunity to coach her in the past and we all understand her potential. Meg is quick, fast and I expect her to serve a role out on the wing for us. She brings speed, athleticism and some aggressiveness to the table. As always, we want to have the best local players that can help our program and Meg certainly fits that mold."
A four-year letter winner at Franklin High School in Franklin, Tenn., Cassie McKinney comes to Tech with a robust high school and club resume. An All-District winner who helped lead Franklin to a district and region championship, as well as a state runner up finish, McKinney was also a member of the Tennessee Soccer Club and Tennessee Olympic Development program. With the ODP, the Clarksville, Tenn. product took home first-team honors from 2013-17 and was part of a state championship squad with the Tennessee Soccer Club.
"We've watched Cassie for a couple of years now and she's had an interest in our program as well," Springthorpe said. "She will fit in some places defensively for us and there is an opportunity for her to make an impact right away. Cassie is a good athlete and has a good soccer mind. She understands the game and also has an older sister that plays at Louisville, so there is some background there with soccer in the family. We are excited that Cassie is joining us."
Bailey Tailor will throw on purple and gold with a strong background in the club ranks, playing with FC Alliance since 2012 and winning a state championship during her time with the program. A four-time All-District and All-Region player in high school, Tailor also took home a pair of Offensive Player of the Year awards and was named MVP as well.
"We identified Bailey over the last few years and have watched her play as a member of FC Alliance," Springthorpe said. "She's played a couple of different positions for them. I've seen her play as an attacking midfielder as well as out wide and up top. Bailey is an attack-oriented player, who likes the ball at her feet and wants to include others when she plays. She has a good understanding of the game and how we like to play it. I think Bailey fits into our style well and we look forward to having her help us in the near future."
Kendall Webb was a force during her high school career, serving as a four-year forward at Fred J. Page High Scholl in Franklin, Tenn. A three-time All-District, two-time All-Region and an All-State winner in 2017, Webb accumulated 49 goals and 35 assists throughout her high-school tenure. Behind her strong offensive prowess, Webb helped guide her team to a district and region championship in 2017, ultimately finishing in third in the state. As far as club-play is concerned, the Nashville native suited up for the Tennessee Soccer Club.
"Kendall played for a fantastic club team, which is always great to have that kind of experience," Springthorpe said. "She plays as an outside back, which is an area we have been kind of thin in as far as numbers go. Kendall can come in and potentially challenge for one of those spots. She is a good athlete as well as a good soccer mind, and has the chance to come in here and make an impact right away."