McMaster Marauders may have more than a ghost of a chance of making some noise in the Ontario University Athletics soccer program this coming season.
Head coach Richie Barnett has recruits Shelby Dawdy (Carlisle), Tara Dawdy (Burlington), Alicja Giftopoulos (Ancaster), Carley Luongo (Ancaster) and Sam McLaren (Oakville) all committed to play for the Marauders this coming fall. The five recruits were all teammates of the Oakville Phantoms U17 girls’ team that captured the 2008 Ontario Cup Provincial soccer championship and the coveted U17 Ontario Youth Soccer League (OYSL) league championship last season.
“We are very excited about our 2009 recruiting class,” said Barnett. “These ladies have all played together for some time and will bring athleticism, a high level of soccer IQ and an on field chemistry which will strengthen the foundation of the team already in place. They will also maintain our strong academic tradition of excellence within our women’s soccer program at McMaster and will compliment the efforts and strides that our current players have put forth during the last few seasons.”
Shelby Dawdy is a 5’5″ midfielder / defender from Waterdown High School and a former regional player. She has helped lead the Phantoms to two OYSL league championships over the past three seasons. Shelby has been very successful playing on her Waterdown school soccer team and has served as captain for the past two seasons. Shelby is the cousin of fellow recruit Tara Dawdy.
“Shelby comes in as one of the fastest players in the group,” said Barnett. “Her smart technical awareness on the field will help solidify an already strong midfield and defensive back line coming into the 2009 season.”
Tara Dawdy is a 5’4″ striker / midfielder who played for Lester B. Pearson High School. She was captain of the dominate OYSL Oakville Phantoms team. The former Provincial and National team member has achieved valuable playing experience at these prominent levels of soccer. Her dynamic presence on the field has caused opponents many problems in the past, noted Barnett.
Dawdy has been a four-year honour student at Pearson. “Tara is a very strong, physical striker who can also adapt to the midfield position,” observed Barnett. “Her time with the Provincial and NTC program will come in handy in the very tough OUA Western Division.”
Giftopoulos is a 5’6″ midfielder from Bishop Tonnos Catholic Secondary School. She has been an instrumental player in their accomplishments over the past few years. As a member of the Phantoms, Alicja has helped lead the team to two provincial championships in the last three years.
Said Barnett: “Giftopoulos has all the required skill to play at the university level, Her vision on the field and technical ability will help strengthen an already talented midfield. Her years of competing in the top flight of Ontario’s OYSL league will be beneficial when called upon to play for the Marauders.”
Luongo, a 5’4″ defender, was a teammate of Giftopoulos’s at Bishop Tonnos. She is playing in her first season with the Hamilton Lady Avalanche of the W-League. The former Team Ontario member served as team captain this past season for the Bishop Tonnos girls’ soccer team.
“Luongo has made the successful jump from the OYSL to the W-league with her quickness and power,” said her new coach. “Competing against international players on a weekly basis and playing alongside other collegiate teammates will help enhance her ability to compete at the university level.”
McLaren is a 5’5″ striker who patrolled the pitch for White Oaks Secondary School. The leading scorer for the past three years on her Oakville Elite team, her transition to the OYSL was effortless, as she assisted the Phantoms to their victorious season in 2008. She is a four- year honour student at White Oaks.
McLaren is a highly skilled forward with deceptive speed,” said Barnett. “She is a terrific play maker and her ability to hold and distribute the ball to her teammates will be a pleasant addition to the teams’ strategy of possession play.”
Mac will begin training camp for the 2009 season on August 15.