March 6, 2000
PULLMAN, Wash - Six players have signed National Letters of Intent to for Washington State's soccer team next fall, coach Dan Tobias announced Monday as he heads into his third year.
"The theme with these recruits in a nutshell, is we wanted to bring in a group that would not only be a big impact group for the class of 2000, but a group we felt would be more like the cornerstones that set the foundation for the next four years," Tobias said. "I feel like this group is going to do that. They're all ideally the kind of players that we are looking for. They are players that played specific spots. They should, in a pinch, be able to play anywhere like good soccer players."
The list includes defenders Shay Hobby (Danville, Calif.) and Danielle Sass (Vancouver, Wash.) and midfielders Katelin Jackson (Vancouver, Wash), Jenna Wirtz (Westlake Village, Calif.), Rachel Rodrick (University Place, Wash.) and Kim Morgan (Seattle, Wash.).
Hobby was selected to the Power Bar All-America team and comes to WSU with 13 years of club level experience that includes four California State Cup Championship teams.
"Shay Hobby, she's a player that is very composed in all aspects," Tobias said. "She's composed during the game with the ball in pressure situations and she has a very composed and poised personality. On her club team and her high school team she is a player at the back, a central defender, that keeps the team organized. We really believe she is going to be someone who can be the leader on the defense for the next four years. She's got all the traits and characteristics we are looking for back there."
Sass has seven years of Division I Premier experience under her belt, most recently back-to-back U-18 D-I Premier Washington State championships for state powerhouse FC Royals. Current Cougars Naomi Allan (Tacoma, Wash.), Jen Burrough (University Place, Wash.), Deka DeWitt (Auburn, Wash.) and Katrina Stroh (Federal Way, Wash.) have all played for the F.C. Royals.
"Danielle is a different type of player in that she is more of a true marking back," Tobias said. "She is someone who likes the task of marking the top offensive player and shutting that player down. She is very, very strong physically, quick, has good speed. I think she's a player, once we get her more involved on the offensive side, she's going to be an even more valuable member of that back line. Right now she's a very good two-task player."
With the four new midfielders, Tobias hopes to replace Christina Pallan (Las Vegas, Nev.) as a central midfielder with good decision-making skills and good ball control. All four newcomers played center midfield in high school.
Jackson played high school ball at Mountain View, where she played with current WSU midfielder Ashley Honda (Vancouver, Wash.) for three years. Jackson was voted to the All Greater St. Helens League as a forward in 1998 and a midfielder in 1999. Played alongside Honda and Erin Cook (Portland, Ore.) for a Lake Oswego club team. Was twice selected to the prestigious ESP Adidas Elite Soccer Program, which selects the top 150 players in the U.S.
"She's probably one of the most versatile recruits we have because she's been asked to, on both her club teams, play a lot of positions," Tobias said. "She can play anywhere. Where she's going to play for us, if I were to speculate right now, we feel like her and Shay can be two people up the middle that we think can be the cornerstones of the defense for the next four years. If we only play three in the back, Kate would be the defensive center midfielder. That's probably what it looks like. She's got the versatility to play anywhere. With our needs, that's where we most see her."
Wirtz played an attacking center mid, scoring 48 goals during her four years at Westlake High School. She was recently picked to the L.A. Times All County first team. Was voted All-Marmonte League first team as a sophomore and junior and second team as a freshman.
"Jenna Wirtz has played several different spots in the midfield and up front on her club team the L.A. Force and her high school team," Tobias said. "She, I think, will primarily be a playmaker in the middle of the field, but we won't hesitate to use her as a flank player as well. She is very good with the ball and she is very good at breaking down the defense. That's also the same as playing her up front. She would be very good playing into her feet and playing a power game. She's another versatile player and a crafty player. She has scored a lot of goals."
Rodrick has been selected to Washington's All-State first team during her final two years at Curtis High. She has been on Washington's Olympic Development Program for five years, also attending regional ODP camp once. Played one year with current junior midfielder Jen Burrough.
"Danielle Sass was on that team and Rachel Rodrick was on that team," Tobias said. "I happened to go over there and watch them play (at the Surf Cup in San Diego) and from that first moment, sometimes in recruiting you see someone play and in that short time you like how they move. With Rach, I liked how she moved, she moved like a soccer player. She constantly wanted the ball. She constantly showed for the ball. She is a very good playmaker. We feel really, really good about having her at WSU next year. Even though she hasn't produced many goals directly herself, she has the potential to become a good scorer. We're going to ask her to get more people involved initially, but I think at the same time making her a more dangerous player."
Morgan garnered three first team All-Seamount League selections and one second team nod in her four years at Highline High School. Competed on the Washington State team in 1997 for coach Steve Crum and 1998 for Mike Washington.
"She may end up being a very good compliment in the midfield to someone like Rach and Katelin Jackson," Tobias said. "She would be what we call a ball winner. She is very active. She wins a ton of balls in the air. She is just a real gritty worker. She has a real high work rate, real high energy in the middle of the field. She has also started to play more up front on her club team. She also played a lot up front on her high school team."
Tobias feels that having several current players have played with half of the recruits will help in the fall.
"People like Rachel as well have mentioned it helped her to know that Katrina Stroh is here," he said. "A lot of them know Deka DeWitt based on reputation. I definitely think that helps a lot. Just coming into a new situation where you are on a new team, you're in college, but you've got some familiarity with some of the players. You get to come in with a little more confidence and a little more confident attitude and you know what to expect."