Kansas Soccer Inks Class of 2011
Feb. 3, 2011
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas soccer head coach Mark Francis announced the signing of seven student-athletes this week, bringing the total number of new players for the 2011 season up to nine.
Jamie Fletcher, Kelsey Lyden, Madison Meyers, Tamarah Stewart, Caroline Van Slambrouck, Jami Vaughn and Haley Yearout have signed National Letters of Intent with Kansas. Joining them will be transfer defender Shannon Renner and center-midfielder Liana Salazar, who have already joined the Jayhawks for the spring season.
“With this class, I think we’ve definitely addressed the things that we need to be better at,” said Francis. “We’ve got to be faster, we’ve got to be more athletic and we’ve got to do a better job keeping the ball. This group is very athletic and there is a lot of speed in the group.”
Two of the seven are area standouts, as KU landed a pair of Sunflower State prospects in Overland Park midfielder/forward Haley Yearout (Blue Valley West HS) and Wichita midfielder Kelsey Lyden (Maize HS).
Yearout comes to KU after a prep career that included two state titles with the Blue Valley West Jaguars and a five-year club career with Blue Valley West Stars Real. An honor student, Yearout excelled in the classroom and on the field as a three-time Eastern Kansas League selection who was named the 2008 EKL Spring Scholar Athlete. While at Blue Valley West, Yearout helped the Jaguars to back-to-back Sunflower State Championships, scoring a goal and assisting on one in the 2009 title game.
With Blue Valley West Stars Real, Yearout and her team went to three Kansas State Cup finals and won the 2009 National Indoor Championships. Yearout also played for the Kansas State ODP team which won the 2009 ODP National Championship and and the 2008 Region II Championship.
A left-footed player with a dedicated work ethic, Yearout is expected to play out wide on the left side.
“Having a left-sided player is always a huge benefit,” Francis said. “She’s a kid that’ is extremely athletic. And she’s a hard-working kid who’s extremely committed.”
Yearout takes particular pride in playing for KU, as she grew up a Jayhawk fan attending basketball games at Allen Fieldhouse. Yearout joins her older brother Ryan as a third generation Jayhawk, as her parents and grandparents also attended KU.
“Coming to KU is a big dream of hers,” Francis said. “She’s grown up as a Kansas fan. Her dad has had basketball season tickets since as long as she’s been around. I think the family is a Jayhawk family.”
Lyden will join four other Wichita players on the current KU roster. Lyden has been on KU’s radar for several years, having attended several KU camps and was a teammate of current KU sophomore and All-Big 12 forward Whitney Berry while playing for Wichita Fire.
Lyden is a three-time AVCTL selection and garnered second-team all-state honors as a junior in 2010. Her junior season was highlighted by a five-goal game that broke the Maize record for single-game goals. Lyden also captained the 2008-2009 Kansas ODP team that advanced to the ODP National Tournament.
“She’s a very, very technical player and very quick,” Francis said. “She’s somebody that will challenge the other returning players.”
Lyden is expected to play an attacking role at center-midfield, and Francis expects her to contribute on the field and off.
“She’s extremely fit and a very, very hard-working kid. She does whatever you ask her,” Francis said. “Mentality-wise, I think she will bring that to the team as well.”
With the graduation of four backline mainstays, defense was especially a position of focus with this recruiting class. Stewart (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Los Osos HS), VanSlambrouck (Kingwood, Texas/Kingwood HS) and Vaughn (Fort Collins, Colo./Rocky Mountain HS) are expected to give the Jayhawks defensive depth, and compete with the current group of sophomore backs.
“We knew that a good portion of the group needed to be athletic and have good speed because we lost a lot of backs that played significant time,” Francis said. “We’re adding a lot of players with the skill set to play in the back. It just depends on putting the pieces together.”
With Los Osos High School, Stewart was named the team’s defensive MVP and has been to three-straight California Interscholastic Federation tournaments. She has also played nine years for Eagles FC, Force, CRSC Infinity and Arsenal FC, as well as spending two years on the California State ODP team.
Stewart is billed as one of the fastest players to ever play for the Crimson and Blue. A tough defender 1-on-1, Stewart’s intangibles highlight her skill set.
“Her speed and explosiveness enable her to recover and get back when the ball gets behind her.” Francis said. “You can’t teach that.”
VanSlambrouck will also bring speed to the line, as she lettered a year in track and field at Kingwood High School and boasts the fastest 40-yard and 400-yard speed on her high-school team, which is currently ranked No. 6 in the nation by ESPN RISE. A three-time all-district selection, VanSlambrouck has helped the Mustangs to numerous tournament wins and an ESPN RISE No. 1 national ranking in 2009. VanSlambrouck contributed on both sides of the field in her junior season, being named Defensive MVP and scoring 13 goals and assisting on eight.
“Caroline is tall and has good size at 5-10,” Francis said. “She’s phenomenal in the air, is very good pushing forward out of the back and is an extremely tough and physical 1-v-1 defender.”
Vaughn comes from a club familiar to the Jayhawk program, the Fort Collins Arsenal Gold, as former KU defensive standout and current WPSL player Estelle Johnson also played with the Arsenal. Vaughn, whose sister Kalie is a sophomore defender at Denver University, played eight years for Arsenal Gold being named Outstanding Arsenal Player in 2010 and was the MVP of the State Cup in 2009, when Arsenal Gold reached the finals. She also was a second-team all-conference selection at Rocky Mountain High School and is a team captain now in her senior season.
“Jami is very composed on the ball,” Francis said. “She reads the game very well and does a good job organizing the back line.”
Rounding out the 2011 recruiting class are two offensive players who have the potential to contribute right away: Jamie Fletcher, a center-forward out of Albuquerque, N.M., (Del Norte HS), and Madison Meyers, out of Highlands Ranch, Colo. (Valor Christian HS).
Both players fit perfectly in KU’s technical style of play. Meyers, another player out of the Denver area, is a two-sport athlete who also runs track. She played for Real Colorado for six years and was a two-time all-state selection for the Valor Christian Eagles.
Fletcher has been a tremendous producer during her prep career, as she was the top statistical leader in the state of New Mexico last season with 22 goals and 16 assists and the fifth-best the year before after scoring 23 goals and assisting on 10. This past season she garnered first-team all-state and all-district selections as well as being named district and state player of the year. She has played for the ODP Regional team, the New Mexico State ODP team since 2005, and Albuquerque United Football Club ’93 since 2005.
“Madison is very, very quick with good speed and she just has a knack for scoring goals,” Francis said. “Jamie is very strong on the ball and she has a great shot with either foot. She has a lot of soccer-savvy and understands the game very well”
Francis is feels that the group not only fills the major needs of the team, but also adds versatility and depth. The nine new players bring a fresh identity to a team that graduated eight key players.
“With this class, I think we’ve really addressed the things that we really need to get better at,” Francis said. “We’ve got to be faster, we’ve got to be more athletic and we’ve got to do a better job keeping the ball.”