Two-time defending NCAA champion Stanford women's water polo coach John Tanner announced Wednesday the signing of five student-athletes to National Letters of Intent.
Joining the Cardinal for the 2013-14 academic year and the 2014 women's water polo season will be Julia Hermann (Solana Beach, Calif./Torrey Pines HS), Danijela Jackovich (New Lenox, Ill./Lincoln-Way Central HS), Sophia Monaghan (Princeton, N.J./The Lawrenceville School), Jamie Neushul (Goleta, Calif./Dos Pueblos HS) and Jessica Webster (La Jolla, Calif./The Bishop's School).
The quintet joins a Cardinal squad that has captured the past two NCAA titles and returns three members of the gold medal-winning 2012 U.S. Olympic Team in Annika Dries, Melissa Seidemann and Maggie Steffens, in addition to 2012 Peter J. Cutino Player of the Year Kiley Neushul. Stanford opens defense of its 2012 crown in January 2013.
"This group has an extremely bright future," said Tanner. "They've had college-level coaching for much or all of their careers, and they have the work ethic to embrace the intensity of play here. It's really exciting that they've all been focused on Stanford for some time and can't wait to get started."
Hermann, a 5-8 goalie, is one of four Southern Californians in the class and was named to the All-CIF San Diego Section Division I First Team last season after leading Torrey Pines High School to its second straight Palomar League title. She also garnered the Palomar League Player of the Year award as well as being named to the all-county first team.
Playing for San Diego Shores at the club level, Hermann was named Junior Olympics MVP in the 16U division this past summer, while in 2011 she was named to the Junior Olympic 16U All-America Second Team.
"Julia is an exciting athlete who inspires teammates with her dynamic play," Tanner noted. "She is mobile and explosive and capable of making big saves. She brings an attacking mentality to her goalkeeping."
Jackovich, a 6-0 center, comes to The Farm as the Cardinal's first recruit from the Midwest since Ann Arbor, Mich. native and 2008 Olympian Alison Gregorka. Jackovich brings a strong international resume to the program, having captained the U.S. Youth National Team in 2011. Next month she will represent the US at the FINA Youth World Championships in Perth, Australia.
At Lincoln-Way Central, Jackovich led the Knights to the Illinois state championship for the first time in school history. As a junior last year, she scored 150 goals and assisted on 78 others, being named Southtown Star Girls Water Polo Player of the Year.
"Danijela is strong, aggressive, and determined and creates headaches for opposing teams," Tanner said. "She was really impressive against the top club teams this summer. She is ready to make the mental and physical transition to elite level college water polo."
Another member of multiple U.S. national teams, Monaghan helped lead the U.S. Junior National Team to the gold medal at the U-19 Pan-American Games. The 5-9 center-defender was also previously a member of the youth national team.
As a prep, Monaghan helped lead The Lawrenceville School to its first title at the Beast of the East, the biggest high school girls' water polo tournament outside of California, in 2012. A varsity starter all four years of her prep career, she was named MVP of the Eastern Championships as a junior while being named to the Eastern Championships All-Tournament Team as a freshman and sophomore.
"Sophia is an exciting prospect because she can play multiple positions and because she plays her best against higher-level, bigger competition," said Tanner. "She had a breakout tournament at Junior Pan Ams this summer."
Adding a sibling combo to the Cardinal team for 2014, Jamie Neushul, a 5-7 driver, combined with sister Kiley to help lead Dos Pueblos High to consecutive CIF Southern Section Division I titles in her freshman and sophomore years. During the first title run in 2010, Jamie scored the game-tying and game-winning goals in Dos Pueblos' comeback title-game victory over Newport Harbor. In 2011 and 2012, she was named to the All-CIF Southern Section Division I First Team for her accomplishments, and has also earned letters in swimming and cross country at DPHS.
Neushul is also very accomplished on the club level with Santa Barbara Water Polo Club, having captured Junior Olympic titles at the 12U 14U, 16U and 18U levels in addition to being named a Junior Olympic All-American at each level. She was named Co-MVP of the 14U tournament in 2009 and earned MVP honors at the 16U level in 2011. She has also helped the club to National Club Championship titles at the 12U, 14U and 18U levels.
"Jamie is a poised, tough, skillful athlete who had a terrific summer, leading her team to both major club championships, a huge accomplishment," Tanner commented. "She thrives on challenges and is effective in all phases of the game."
Also joining Stanford from the San Diego area is Webster, a 5-10 driver. At The Bishop's School, Webster was twice named to the All-CIF San Diego Section First Team, garnering the honors as a sophomore in 2011 and a junior in 2012. She has also spent three years on the school's swim team, being named team MVP in 2012 and setting the school record in the 50-yard freestyle.
Playing club ball for San Diego Shores, Webster was named MVP at the 2011 U.S. Club Championships, pulling double duty as she led the club's 16U team to the national title and helped the 18U team to a third-place finish. A two-time Junior Olympic All-American (2010-11), Webster has also been named MVP at the San Diego Open in 2012 and the TYR Cup in 2011.
"Jessica has the size, speed and shooting ability to scale quickly to this level of play," said Tanner. "She also had a terrific summer, overseas and in California, showing her willingness to take over games from the outside and the interior."
Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer announced Wednesday the signing of four student-athletes to National Letters of Intent. Enrolling at Stanford and joining the Cardinal in 2013-14 will be forwards Kailee Johnson (Portland, Ore./Central Catholic HS) and Erica McCall (Bakersfield, Calif./Ridgeview HS), wing Karlie Samuelson (Huntington Beach, Calif./Mater Dei HS) and point guard Khaliyah "Lili" Thompson (Mansfield, Texas/Timberview HS).
"Some words that I think really describe this class are versatile, athletic, and competitive," VanDerveer said. "Our players are coming out of high school very skilled, and we will continue to have good team speed. All four are a great fit for Stanford academically, will be a great fit for our team. These are players who have played not only for USA Basketball, but for elite summer basketball programs and great coaches, so the experienced competition they have excelled against will help them acclimate quickly to the college game."
The quartet will join a Cardinal program that has reached five straight Final Fours from 2008-12, and is currently 2-0 to start the 2012-13 campaign. Stanford is in Honolulu, where it will open play at the Rainbow Wahine Classic Friday against No. 1 Baylor at 4:30 p.m. PT. The Cardinal also plays host Hawai'i Saturday at 9 p.m. PT and Tennessee-Martin Sunday at 7 p.m. PT.
Johnson and McCall will add additional depth to the Cardinal frontcourt upon arrival during the summer of 2013. Johnson, a 6-3 forward, brings a wide-ranging skill set to The Farm. The Portland, Ore. native utilizes her length and size to make herself a formidable defender and rebounder, and can transition that ability into quickly leading the break into the offensive attack. On the scoring end, Johnson has drawn praise for her ability to effectively work both ends of the post, moving well to score inside or showing the ability to step out and consistently hit her midrange jumper and even from 3-point range.
With Central Catholic High School, Johnson averaged 13.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game while making 2.7 steals per game on the defensive end.
"I was so excited when I found out that I had been accepted into Stanford, it was just such a relief that all of my hard work, both in the classroom and on the court, had paid off. This program and team is so great I cannot wait until I get to be a part of it," Johnson said. "Aside from the obvious excellent program and academic opportunities, I really enjoyed the girls on the team and the three other girls that I came on my visit with. I just got along well with my future teammates and that was a big deal to me."
"We're very excited about Kailee coming to Stanford and her great versatility," VanDerveer said. "She can score on the block as well as face-up, and I feel she can also be a great defender for our team."
McCall, also 6-3, has already burnished her credentials against international competition as a two-time gold medalist with the USA Basketball U16 and U17 National Teams. In 2011, McCall was part of the U16 squad that captured gold at the FIBA Americas U16 Championship, qualifying the Americans for the U17 World Championship. The Bakersfield native would earn her spot on the U17 National Team in 2012 for the FIBA U17 World Championship, where she would again help lead the U.S. team to gold.
As a prep, McCall, an excellent athlete and dominant rebounder, is already Ridgeview High's career leader in points (1,876), rebounds (1,391) and blocks (672) entering her senior season in 2012-13. At Ridgeview McCall has thrice been named the Bakersfield Californian All-Area MVP (2010-12) and in 2012 was named to the All-CIF Southern Section Division III First Team and the Cal-Hi Sports All-State Fourth Team after averaging 25.8 points, 16.7 rebounds and 7.1 blocks per game.
McCall's sister, DeWanna Bonner, currently plays in the WNBA for the Phoenix Mercury and enjoyed a standout collegiate career at Auburn.
"Getting in to Stanford was an exciting feeling, especially since there is a small percentage who get in from those that apply. Also with joining the basketball program I felt a sense of pride knowing that I would a part of such great history," McCall noted.
"The key reasons that helped me choose Stanford were the fact that I could get the best of both worlds, great academics and a top basketball program coached by Tara VanDerveer, and it was also close to home. What is a better accomplishment that includes a NCAA championship and a Stanford degree?" she added.
"We like Erica's physical play, she's a rebounder and a very aggressive competitor," noted VanDerveer. "She scores, has 3-point range, and she is extremely competitive and versatile."
Another Southern California product joining the Cardinal brings a familiar name and pedigree to The Farm. Karlie Samuelson joins older sister Bonnie on the squad next season, adding her own deadly long-range accuracy to the Cardinal fold. Samuelson, at 5-11, has gained experience running an offense from the point as well as playing at the shooting guard position, utilizing her shooting capabilities. These skills and abilities helped earned her an invite to the USA Basketball U17 National Team Trials ahead of the FIBA U17 World Championship in 2012.
On the prep level, Samuelson averaged 18 points per game for Edison High School in 2011-12 and was named to the Cal-Hi Sports All-Junior Fifth Team despite missing part of the regular season due to an ankle injury and the entire postseason due to illness. The season prior (2010-11), she helped lead Edison to the CIF Southern Section Division I title, earning league co-MVP honors in the process.
Samuelson transferred to Mater Dei High School early this past summer, where she will play her senior season.
"I am very excited to join the team and I think it will be a lot of fun," Samuelson said. "I am looking forward to being part of the Stanford family and I am happy that my hard work in the classroom has paid off. I chose Stanford because of the high standards for both basketball and academics and also the location of the university."
"I miss playing with my sister Bonnie, and it will be great getting to play with her on the court again," Samuelson added.
"Karlie's strength is her 3-point shooting but she can also play both guard positions and can be another versatile player for us," VanDerveer added.
Thompson, a 5-7 point guard from Mansfield, Texas, bolsters not only the Cardinal backcourt but also its sizable contingent from the Lone Star State. She will join fellow Texans Chiney Ogwumike (Cypress), Alex Green (Dallas), Kiran Lakhian (Plano) and Amber Orrange (Houston) on the roster. Much like her fellow Texans, Thompson, who goes by "Lili" brings plenty of speed, athleticism and moves to the party.
She also brings an ability to beat defenders off the dribble and penetrate the lane, opening up opportunities for teammates on the offensive end. Also highly regarded for her jumping ability and penchant for rebounding against taller competition, Thompson has led Timberview High to the Texas state playoffs in each of the past two seasons after transferring from Punahou High School in Hawaii.
One of the top point guards in Texas, Thompson was named a Sporting News All-America honorable mention after leading the Lady Wolves in scoring, assists and steals. She was also voted unanimously to the Texas Girls' Coaches Association All-State Team as well as to the local all-region and all-district first teams.
"I feel honored to have been accepted into such a prestigious and respected university, and I'm excited to help continue the legacy of great women's basketball at Stanford," Thompson said. "I'm excited about this next phase of my life and I plan to work as hard as possible and enjoy it every step of the way.
"With my passion for education and basketball, I believe Stanford is a great fit for me," she continued. "I chose Stanford because I enjoy being challenged and being part of a successful team. After visiting campus and meeting the coaching staff and my future teammates, I was confident that at Stanford I would be able to grow, both as a person and an athlete, and accomplish many goals."
"We are big fans of Lili's point-guard skills," said VanDerveer. "She is a vocal, heady point guard. She can put the ball on the floor, is a strong player and has an excellent pull-up jump shot."
Greg Meehan and Dr. Rick Schavone announced Thursday that six student-athletes have signed a National Letter of Intent to join the Cardinal beginning in the fall of 2013.
The six-person signing class -- Meehan's first since arriving on The Farm in August -- includes swimmers Lia Neal, Grace Carlson, Nicole Stafford, Tara Halsted, Bridget Boushka and diver Kassidy Cook.
"Today is a very exciting day for Stanford women's swimming and diving," Meehan said. "In a very short period of time here on The Farm, we are thrilled to have received a National Letter of Intent from these six amazing young women. Not only will they improve our program in the water and off the boards, but they are fantastic people."
Neal competed for the United States in the 2012 Summer Olympics, earning a bronze medal as part of the 4x100 free relay.
While prepping at Convent of the Sacred Heart School and swimming for Asphalt Green Unified Aquatics and coach Rachel Stratton-Mills on the club circuit, Neal was one of only three high school swimmers to earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic women's swimming team with her fourth-place finish in the 100m free at the U.S. Olympics Trials. Neal was given the opportunity to leadoff the preliminary 4x100 free relay in London and swam a lifetime best of 54.14 to help earn a berth in the evening relay. In the finals session, Neal posted a 53.65 split on her leg to help the United States squad earn a bronze medal while setting an American record in 3:33.24.
Neal also earned three gold medals as part of the 400m free relay, 800m free relay and 400m medley relay teams at the 2011 Junior Pan Pacific Championships. Neal copped silver in the 100m and bronze in the 50m free at the event.
"Lia is an amazing young swimmer," Meehan said. "Her impact on Stanford swimming will be immediate through her individual and relay performances as we continue to move towards being successful in the future.
"Lia's international swimming success is also something we take very seriously and I look forward to helping her contribute to USA Swimming over the next four years and beyond. Lia's impact will also be felt by who she is as a person and that may be her greatest talent."
Carlson, a native of Portland, Ore., competes on the club scene for Tualatin Hills Swim Club and head coach Linck Bergen. Carlson went 26.39 in the 50m free at the 2011 U.S. Junior Nationals and posted a personal-best 23.22 in the 50-yard free.
"I'm very excited to have Grace join our program," Meehan said. "From the moment she stepped on campus for her official visit, we knew it was the right fit. In the pool, Grace has some dynamic abilities in the sprint free and backstroke events that will help our team over the next four years."
Stafford hails from Atlanta, Ga., and attends Westminster Prep while swimming for Dynamo Swim Club and head coach Jason Turcotte. Stafford qualified for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials in the 100 fly, 200 fly, 200 back and 200 free. The 10-time Georgia A-AAAA state champion earned 10 All-America accolades while teaming to claim the 2011 national title in the 400 free relay.
"What I really appreciated about Nicole through the recruitment process was her commitment to find the right school and not get caught up in the emotion of recruiting," Meehan said. "Nicole's talents in the pool spread across many disciplines. This versatility is exciting to us and we look forward to working with Nicole next fall."
Halsted is a two-time defending champion in the 500 free in California's San Joaquin Sectional. The Davis, Calif., native swims for head coach Bill Doughty's Davis Aquadarts. An accomplished backstroker, Halsted has posted lifetime bests of 55.63 (100) and 1:57.83 (200) while also going 2:00.91 in the 200 fly.
"Tara is an incredibly talented backstroker, freestyler and butterflyer," Meehan said. "Tara's ability in the middle distance stroke events will really help add to the quality of our program."
A product of Nitro Swimming and coach Tim O'Brien, Boushka attends Texas' St. Michael's Catholic Academy. Boushka is a fly specialist with top times of 56.80 (100) and 2:02.39 (200).
"Bridget is so excited to be a part of our program and we're equally excited to have her here," Meehan said. "You could feel her energy as soon as she was on campus. Bridget's ability in the fly events will add some much needed depth to our roster."
One of the premier up and coming divers in the United States, Cook preps at Texas' The Woodlands and was named the 2010 NISCA national champion.
"Having Kassidy here will be amazing for us," Schavone said. "She's definitely the greatest high school diver I've ever recruited. Kassidy was fourth at the Olympic Trials at age 16, missing the synchro at the Trials by one point. She's a great, great, great diver.
"I couldn't be happier to have a wonderful young lady like Kassidy who is very committed, dedicated, goal-oriented and competitive to join our program."
What are some of the things Cook could bring to the Stanford program? "National titles," Schavone said.
Cook posted a pair of second-place finishes during the 2012 FINA Diving World Series and swept the 2011 national titles in the 3-meter synchronized event. Three of the five synchronized titles came with the joint effort of current Cardinal diver Cassidy Krug.
Cook won the 1- and 3-meter events at the 2012 FINA World Junior Diving Championships while also capturing the 3-meter titled at the 2010 USA Junior National Championships. The standout topped the podium off the 1-meter board at the 2010 USA Winter National, USA Junior National and AT&T Diving Championships.
"If you told me on my first day at Stanford in late August that this would be our signing class, I would have been ecstatic," Meehan said. "I am so grateful to this group for giving Stanford swimming and diving the opportunity to help them achieve their academic, athletic and life goals."
Anne Walker announced Casey Danielson, Quirine Eijkenboom and Jisoo Keel have signed National Letters of Intent to attend Stanford next fall.
"I am thrilled with the incoming recruit class for 2013," said Walker. "We have an outstanding group of young ladies bound for Stanford; they will make our team stronger, deeper and also bring a wealth of international experience to the team. They will create competition in practice and qualifying, challenging our team to be at its best each and every day."
Danielson is a four-time Wisconsin state champion and was a member of the 2012 U.S. Junior Ryder Cup team. The Rolex first-team All-American is ranked fourth in Golfweek's girls rankings. Danielson's sister, Lindsay, plays golf for the University of Wisconsin and her brother, Charlie, plays for the University of Illinois.
"Casey Danielson was a highly recruited player and we are delighted that she choose to attend Stanford," said Walker. "She is very well respected in junior golf and I have no doubt that she will continue her great play in college."
Eijkenboom joins the Cardinal from Bavaria, Germany. She competed on the 2012 European Junior Ryder Cup team and won the German Girls' National Championship. Eijkenboom was the 2011 German Ladies Matchplay champion and finished third at the British Girls Championship.
"Quirine has traveled extensively in Europe and represented her home country, Germany, on multiple occasions," said Walker. "She is very familiar with team golf. I expect she will blossom even more within the team environment here at Stanford."
Jisoo Keel was the first female to win individual title honors at the 2011 AAA British Columbia Provincial Championship. She qualified for the 2011 & 2012 Canadian Women's Open and the 2012 U.S. Women's Open. The No. 1-ranked girls golfer in Canada, Keel was also named 2011 & 2012 PNGA Player of the Year. She has been a member of Canada's national team for three years.
"Jisoo Keel has experienced the highest level of competition and shown that she can win," Walker said. "She won a Canadian Tour event in 2011. She is very comfortable shooting low numbers and that mentality will be a great asset to our program."
In Walker's first year at the helm, the Cardinal posted a pair of top-three finishes to close out its fall schedule. The team, ranked 15th in the country, begins its spring schedule February 16 at the Peg Barnard Invitational at Stanford Golf Course.