Jonathan Morgan, the University of Maryland women's soccer head coach recently announced a five member freshman class for his 2015 team. Nominally, the class is focused on attack and in the midfield.
In addition to replacing graduating seniors Shade Pratt and Cory Ryan, Morgan needs to replace two other players - rising seniors Aubrey Baker who has transferred to Louisville and Alex Doody who has elected not to return to the team - who saw significant playing time last season.
The early standouts in the class, which is ranked 20th by Top Drawer Soccer, appear to be the two players who will be traveling the longest distance to play at Maryland. Cassie Phillips is a 5'7" attacking midfielder from Ann Arbor, Michigan. Joining her is fellow TDS four star Kayla Jennings from Montclair, NJ. Morgan currently projects the 5'6" Jennings as a holding midfielder but has suggested she may also move to the back line.
Three players from Virginia round out the class - forward Kady Badham from Woodbridge, midfielder Olivia Mills from Midlothian, and Darby Moore from Norfolk. Although Moore is not rated by TDS, she did join Phillips and Jennings in the IMG Academy 150 player pool.
While Badham is listed as a forward Phillips is more of an attacking central midfielder. Perhaps of equal importance, both stand 5'7" and appear to have the size and speed to match the type of attackers that many Big Ten teams feature.
Said Morgan, "We expect each one of these young women to compete for playing time on day one." Perhaps this will be the case and, given the Terrapins' scoring struggles in the 2014 season, there are certainly opportunities for anyone who shows herself capable of putting the ball in the net. Still, competing for playing time is different from earning it.
As for the players themselves, Badham appears to be a bit of project. She has been a two sport athlete in high school running for the track team as a sprinter in addition to competing on the pitch. In an August 2014 interview, she indicated her senior year focus would be soccer. Morgan's description of her reinforces that notion, "I think the potential with Kady is endless. She has physical tools that can't be taught and she has a thirst to score goals."
The two remaining Virginians, Mills and Moore bring different skillsets to the Terps. Mills is a central midfielder who is described as composed and an accurate passer. Listening to Morgan talk about her, when he says, "There isn't a lot of flash with Olivia but there's substance and consistency in her quality that makes her extremely valuable," evokes comparisons in her style to Dan Metzger. Terrapins fans can only dream that she develops into that quality of player.
The coach expects Moore to "play in the wide areas" for the Terps. Her high school coach described her as, "The kind of player that makes a difference. And when it's 0-0, she scores the winning goal." Moore, who scored 32 goals as a freshman, evolved into more of a facilitator from the attacking midfield in her sophomore and junior seasons.
Jennings committed to Maryland as a sophomore and at the time was ranked as the number 11 player in the IMG Top 150 for the class. Jennings is a three sport athlete who also competes for her high school's basketball and lacrosse squads. However, she will be coming off an ACL tear suffered in September.
Phillips was something of a double steal (if you'll pardon the baseball pun) for Morgan and the Terps. Not only did Maryland lure her away from her hometown school - fellow B1G rival Michigan - but also from Notre Dame where she had originally committed before reopening her recruitment. Morgan looks forward to adding her to his roster saying, "I love how clean Cassie is on the ball and her attacking mentality to go forward as a central midfielder."