BANNER ELK, N.C. --- Four student-athletes have signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Lees-McRae College and join the Bobcat women's soccer program, announced head coach Cally Morrill on Wednesday. Morrill's second recruiting class at the helm of the Bobcats program brings some talented players from across the country to build upon the success of last season's 14-6 squad.
Joining Lees-McRae in the fall will be Samantha Arendt (Franklinton, N.C.), Kaitlyn Briggs (Orlando, Fla.), Ariana Smith (Jackson, N.J.) and Meagan Thornton (Millville, N.J.). A link to a photo gallery with signing and action pictures of each incoming freshman is provided at the bottom of this page.
"This is an exciting day for us at Lees-McRae," said Morrill. "Our staff is very pleased with the additions of Sam, Kaitlyn, Ariana and Meagan to our 2011 class, and the talent these girls will bring to the program. This class is a great fit with our current team, and I could not be happier with the start to our new class. All four are class acts, and will bring an incredible amount of success to our program, the College, and the Lees-McRae community."
Samantha Arendt • 5-8 • Midfield/Forward • Franklinton, N.C.
Samantha Arendt joins the Bobcats following a standout career at Franklinton High School, where she was named to the 2A All-Region team, as well as the all-conference team. Arendt recorded 21 goals and 14 assists during her junior season to go along with nine goals and 15 assists in her sophomore campaign. She was listed as a "Player to Watch" according to the renowned soccer website, TopDrawer Soccer, for her play on the 92 Carolina Select club team under the direction of Coach Godfrey Miller.
Arendt is the daughter of Chris and Boni Arendt and Nancy Boggs. She has one brother, Cole (19) and one sister, Bella (five). Her father Chris played football for Duke University, while her mother Nancy played tennis at UNC-Chapel Hill. Her brother Cole plays soccer at Wingate University.
"Sam is a tremendous athlete, which is a trait common in her family," said Coach Morrill. "As an attacking minded player, Sam is very dangerous with her speed, and will be seen in the midfield and up top for us next year."
Kaitlyn Briggs • 5-10 • Goalkeeper • Orlando, Fla.
Kaitlyn Briggs was a four-year varsity starter for Hagerty High School, ending her career as the school record holder in wins, while posting program marks in wins (17), goals-against-average (0.92), single-season shutouts (10), career shutouts (17), save percentage (.862) and minutes played (1900:24). During her senior season, Briggs was named first team all-conference and all-district as a goalkeeper. She previously was named second-team all-conference as a junior, and made the team as a defender during her sophomore campaign.
Briggs is the daughter of Ralph and LuAnn Briggs and has two sisters, Beth (23) and Kylie (16). She plays club soccer for the Florida Soccer Alliance under the direction of Coach Bobby Hurring. Academically, she boasts a 3.7 grade point average, and has taken multiple A.P. and honors classes.
"At 5-10, Kaitlyn is a solid, aggressive, hardworking keeper," said Morrill. "She is experienced in leading quality teams; both her high school and FSA Club team, which will help her tremendously during her freshman year. "
Ariana Smith • 5-8 • Defender • Jackson, N.J.
Ariana Smith was a four-year letter-winner and three-year starter for Jackson Memorial High School, where she has helped lead the Jaguars to the Central Jersey Group IV State Championship in each of the last two seasons, as well as a spot in the state semifinals during both of those campaigns. As a freshman, Smith garnered team Most Valuable Player honors after leading her team to the Shore Conference Championship. In 2009, Smith was a member of the New Jersey State Olympic Development Program team and was an alternate in 2010.
She was a member of the Match Fit Chelsea club team, playing for Coach Julio Vacacela. At Jackson Memorial, she was also a member of the varsity lacrosse and basketball teams. Smith is a member of the National Honors Society and has served as a volunteer for countless programs, including Habitat for Humanity.
"Ariana brings a hard nose style of defending to our program," said Morrill. "She is a tremendous student in the classroom, and a tough competitor on the field who has the ability to make a difference in our back line this coming season. "
Meagan Thornton • 5-4 • Forward • Millville, N.J.
Meagan Thornton was a four-year starter for Millville High School, scoring a total of 42 goals in her career. She was named first team all-conference during her junior and senior seasons, in addition to second team all-conference honors during both her freshman and sophomore campaigns. Thornton was named the News Player of the Year following her senior campaign, while also earning a spot on the Cape Atlantic League Senior All-Star team. She also played an integral role as a member of the Cherry Hill FC U17 Power, which achieved a No. 3 ranking in the state of New Jersey under the direction of Coach Neil Condon.
Thornton is the daughter of Paul and Annette Thornton. Her brother Paul, Jr. (20) played college soccer at Gloucester County College. Meagan will also be a member of the Lees-McRae women's track and field team, and has won countless individual NJSIAA sectional titles. She currently holds the school record in multiple events, and was recently named All-American after her eighth-place finish in the AAU Junior Olympics in the 400 hurdles.
"This is a quality signing of a dual-sport athlete for Lees-McRae," said Morrill. "Meagan has exceptional pace on the field and becomes very dangerous in open space. We look forward to having her speed and athleticism in our attack this coming season."
The Bobcats recently capped one of the best seasons in program history, advancing to the semifinal round of the Conference Carolinas Tournament and recording the program's highest win total since the 2000 campaign. Several Bobcats garnered individual recognition for their outstanding performance this fall, including Daktronics NCAA Division II all-Southeast Region Second Team selection MaryBeth Sullivan (Greensboro, N.C.), who led LMC with 14 goals and 37 points in her freshman campaign.
Lees-McRae College, a four-year, co-educational liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church, USA, is located in the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains of northwestern North Carolina. Being a year-round tourist destination, the area provides the best of a vibrant college community coupled with natural beauty and a rich history. Please see www.lmc.edu for more information.
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