KU Soccer Inks Three National Letter of Intent Signees
Feb. 2, 2012
|Courtney Dickerson||F||Peculiar, Mo.|
|Kaley Smith||D||Albuquerque, N.M.|
|Ashley Williams||F||Albuquerque, N.M.|
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The New Mexico state player of the year highlights a list of three new student-athletes that signed a national letter of intent to play soccer at Kansas. New Mexico natives Ashley Williams and Kaley Smith will join Courtney Dickerson (Peculiar, Mo.) as Jayhawks beginning in the 2012-13 academic year.
“I think all three of the players can come in and contribute right away and challenge to start,” KU head coach Mark Francis said of his 2012 signing class. “If not (start) then at least challenge to get in and get on the field. We’re excited to add them, especially since we return our whole starting lineup. They have the potential to beat out some of those starters, which just makes our team better and deeper.”
Out of Albuquerque, N.M., Williams is a forward from Volcano Vista High School. Under head coach Samantha Lucero, Williams was named the New Mexico state player of the year and an NSCAA High School All-American in her senior season after guiding the Hawks to a runner-up finish at the state tournament. That same year, the VVHS team MVP scored 36 goals and collected 16 assists as she was selected an all-state member for the third consecutive season. Williams was also a member of the Hawks’ state championship team in 2010.
Williams, who was a district champion in track, is a member of the Rio Vista Eagles club team under the direction of head coach Chris Brennan and has earned five state championships in her seven seasons with the team. She also played eight years on the New Mexico State ODP team. Twice her squad was a Region IV championship semi-finalist and she was named to the all-tournament team in 2011.
“Ashley is very athletic. She plays up front, out wide,” Francis said of the 5-foot-8 forward. “She is really good at one-on-on and very confident taking people on one-on-one, which is a great trait as a forward. I think Ashley also has a huge upside in that I think she is a kid who hasn’t fully reached her potential yet. I think she’s only going to get better. She was the New Mexico high school player of the year so she’s coming in with some accolades. We like Ashley where she’s at right now, but we think she’s only going to get better and has a ton of potential to be a great college player.”
Also out of Albuquerque, Smith will come to Kansas from Eldorado High School. In her senior year for coach Tom Hirschman, the 5-foot-8 defender was named all-state for the fourth time and was selected as her team’s MVP for the second consecutive season. The four-time all-district honoree helped lead EHS to a state championship as a sophomore in 2009 after a runner-up finish in her freshman campaign. Smith, whose older brother, Shane, is a member of the Kansas football team, was the Eagles’ defensive player of the year three times, but the versatile player also led EHS in scoring during both the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
Smith teamed up with Williams on the Rio Vista Eagles club team. The team has won three New Mexico State Championships (2007, 2008, 2009) and was a runner-up once since Smith joined the team in 2006. She was also a member of the New Mexico State ODP team for five years during which she attended the USYSA National Camp in 2010.
“Kaley is a defender and very athletic. She’s very strong, very physical,” Francis said. “She’s going to really help us out in the back. We gave up a lot of goals this year, so our backs need to get better. We have a lot of young players but I think Kaley is somebody that will be able to come in and challenge to help us right away in the back. She’s very composed with the ball, which fits our style of play. Kaley is also extremely competitive and that is something we like, especially in our defenders.”
With her senior season yet to be played, Dickerson is already a three-time all-district first team selection for head coach Jason Watermann at Raymore-Peculiar High School. A native of Peculiar, Mo., Dickerson became the first player in RPHS history to record back-to-back 20-goal seasons. In 2011, she collected 20 goals and eight assists on her way to earning the team’s offensive player of the year award for a third-straight season. She tallied 26 goals and 13 assists just one year prior.
In her third year with the KCFC Heat club team, Dickerson has been a part of two Kansas State Cup Championship teams. She also won two state cups with the KC Select Scream Red, which she was a member from 2002-09.
“We noticed Courtney right away because of her athleticism,” Francis said of the three-time academic letterwinner. “We see her playing a wide forward for us. Courtney is somebody else who has a ton of potential. I don’t think she has reached her top level yet. She is someone who we think has a lot of potential to get even better once she gets into our training environment everyday playing against the kids she’ll be training and playing against.”
“We had a young team in 2011 and knew we would be returning a lot of players that were going to play a lot so this class was really about solidifying and giving us some depth in some positions that we felt we needed,” Francis concluded. “We really hit all of the areas that we felt like we needed because we only graduated three. It’s not a big class to replace but we feel like the kids we are bringing in are going to help us in making an immediate impact.”