- Ruby Wallau/Daily
By Alejandro Zuniga, Daily Sports Writer
Published February 11, 2013
The Michigan women’s soccer team enjoyed its most successful season in almost a decade in 2012, taking first-seeded Penn State to a penalty kick shootout before bowing out of the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16. With one of the most experienced coaching staffs in the country and a loaded recruiting class joining the program this fall, the Wolverines might experience even better results in the near future.
On Monday, Michigan coach Greg Ryan announced that seven players had signed National Letters of Intent for the 2013 season: Taylor Bucklin, Bailey Haydock, Jessica Heifetz, Missy Kreutz, Madi Lewis, Anna Soccorsi and Nicky Waldeck. The incoming class will add to a roster that lost just three seniors to graduation.
“We’re very excited about this class of signees,” Ryan said in a statement. “Each member of this class is extremely talented and plays the game of soccer at a very high level. We expect them to make an immediate and positive impact on our team this season and add to the culture that we’ve created here at the University of Michigan.”
Taylor Bucklin could help address the graduation of Haley Kopmeyer, the program’s most successful goalkeeper. Kopmeyer recorded more saves (383), shutouts (27) and had the lowest goals-against average (0.96) than any other netminder in Michigan history. The Wolverines’ roster already features two goalkeepers, sophomore Maddie Clarfield and junior Zaryn Jennings, but Bucklin has showcased her talents for the Canadian national team at the CONCACAF Under-17 Women’s Championship and the Under-17 Women’s World Cup.
The seven signees also include a total of four defenders and midfielders who will reinforce a defense that allowed just 17 goals and recorded 13 shutouts in 2012 — both program bests. The back line is anchored by senior Shelina Zadorski, who was recently called up to the Canadian national team. The Wolverines also picked up Virginia transfer and Troy, Mich. native Olivia Brannon on Jan. 9 — one of the nation’s top defenders.
Michigan had enjoyed a period of success when it made the NCAA Tournament every year between 1997 and 2004, but has only danced three times since then. When Debbie Rademacher — the program’s longtime coach — resigned in 2007, the Wolverines hired Ryan and associate coach Dean Duerst to replace her. The duo had worked together at Wisconsin and for the U.S. national team.
When Ryan and Duerst arrived in Ann Arbor, they had very little with which to impress recruits. The team didn’t have a practice field and even played some games at Canton High School. But after several delays, the UM Soccer Complex was completed in 2010, and Zadorsky and standout forward Nkem Ezurike enrolled that year. Since then, the coaches and facilities have consistently drawn strong recruiting classes and the team has continued to improve.