BANNER ELK, N.C. --- Six student-athletes have signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Lees-McRae College and play women's soccer in the fall of 2014, announced Lees-McRae women's soccer coach Nick Whiting Wednesday.
Joining the Bobcats in the fall will be Leanne McAlexander (Huntersville, N.C.), Leah Osenga (Kernersville, N.C.), Julie Perkins (Durham, N.C.), Savannah Rees (Greentown, Ind.), Natalie Shuman (Waynesville, N.C.) and Sydney Varney (Boones Mill, Va.).
"We are so excited to welcome this 2014 class to our program," said Whiting. "They are a tremendous group of young women that are going to bring so much to our program and to Lees-McRae College. This is a very blue collar group who is going to strive to be successful in everything they do and I am proud that they are going to be a part of the Bobcat family."
"We lose a talented group of seniors who have meant a ton to our program, but I know that this group is ready to come in and help fill that void. I'd also like to thank our assistant coach, Brittany Downs, for her tireless efforts helping recruit this talented class."
"We can't wait to welcome our newest batch of Bobcats to the team. We have improved our depth greatly with this class and that is only going to make our team even stronger," said Downs. "They are talented, hard working and going to be great assets to our program."
Leanne McAlexander – Midfielder/Forward – 5-10 – Huntersville, N.C.
McAlexander has been an integral member of the Charlotte Soccer Academy North Elite G Team for the last four years, where she excelled as a midfielder/forward for the team. While playing for CSA, her squad's most recent success was being undefeated in the 2013 Adidas Savannah Senior Cup College Showcase. During her freshman campaign, McAlexander was part of the 2010 HFC Riverside Champions. While a sophomore, her team was a finalist in the Norcross Nike Cup. The Huntersville, N.C., native was a valuable asset to the 2012 Dicks Invitational Championship team as well as the NMSC Visit Lake Norman Tournament championship squad.
She was part of the 2013 Kepner North Carolina State Cup Final Four team. An attendee of Hopewell High School, McAlexander has been a four-year varsity player and letter recipient. The senior has been elected captain of her team and has been an inspirational leader on the team and sits sixth all-time in goals scored and ninth in points scored.
McAlexander shines in the class room while earning National Society of High School Scholars recognition. She has earned the North Carolina High School Athletic Association/AAA 2013 Individual Scholar Athlete and Varsity Team Scholar Athlete Award. She is the business editor for the school newspaper and the Co-President of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She is the daughter of David and Suzanne McAlexander and has an older sister, who is attending the University of South Carolina.
"Leanne has good speed and size that is going to be trouble on the outside for opposing defenders. She will be a nice option for us as an attacker," said Whiting.'
"I chose LMC because of its beautiful location, small home like atmosphere and the great athletic training program it has to offer," said McAlexander.
Leah Osenga – Defender – 5-7 – Kernersville, N.C.
Osenga is a four-year varsity member of the East Forsyth High School team. She plays club soccer at North Carolina Soccer Fusion. As a senior, she was a member of the Adidas Labor Day Shootout Gold Division Championship team.
East Forsyth has finished in the top-15 in Class 4A in the last three years while claiming the Piedmont Triad Conference Championships. Osenga proved to be valuable while playing on the varsity basketball team during her sophomore year.
Osenga has spent time volunteering at the YMCA and refereed at Littleton YMCA for outdoor soccer leagues.
Osenga is the daughter of James and Kirsten Osenga and her sister, Mariah, plays women's soccer for Catawba. She also has a younger sister, Kenna.
"Leah is an athletic defender who can play both outside and centrally," said Whiting. "I had the opportunity to work with her at a camp this summer and her effort and willingness to compete was evident immediately."
"I chose Lees-McRae because I loved the size of the school and location in the Blue Ridge Mountains," said Osenga. "I have always enjoyed all sports and Lees-McRae provides a sports marketing program that fits what I want to pursue in the future."
Julie Perkins – Defender – 5-3 – Durham, N.C.
During her senior campaign, the Durham, N.C., native was the Jordan High School Wendy Heisman Recipient and was merited honorable mention on the Pac-6 All-Conference team. She was also an All-Star representative at the TFC Friendlies as a member of her club team, '95 NC Alliance.
Perkins has turned in countless hours while volunteering at the Animal Protection Society of Durham while serving as the junior captain of fundraising for Relay for Life. She was part of the cheerleading squad at Jordan High School and a member of Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Jordan Elite. Her high academic achievement has allowed her acceptance to the Honors College at LMC.
She is the daughter of Frank and Cindy Perkins and her brother, Jim, played soccer at Longwood University. Her sister, Jessica, was a cheerleader at Western Carolina.
"Julie possesses great pace at her outside defender position and is going to be able to give us a lot of options in the backline. She is tough to beat 1v1 and also joins the attack very well," said Whiting.
"After witnessing the beautiful views, hearing about the quality education and seeing the performance of the women's soccer team, I knew LMC was the school for me," said Perkins.
Savannah Rees – Midfielder – 5-7 – Greentown, Ind.
Rees was tabbed Offensive MVP and is a member of the 100-goal club at Eastern High School. The Greentown, Ind., native tallied 108 career goals and was named to the Indiana All-Star Team and garnered the MVP award for the match.
Rees recorded the most goals in a game (7) and a season (38), while tallying the most assists in a season. She is a first-team MIC representative and will be graduating with Honors.
Rees earned the Academic "E" Award while being a member of the Honor Roll and National Honors Society. She played as a member of the Westfield Select Travel Club. Rees is the daughter of Chris Rees and has a sister, Olivia.
"Savannah is one of those players who is always around the goal. Her stats speak for themselves and she can score goals in a variety of ways," said Whiting. "She is also a strong kid who is going to be a force in the middle of the park for us."
"I chose Lees-McRae because it made me feel welcomed right from the start and I wanted to be able to play soccer and focus on academics," said Rees. "LMC is making that happen for me."
Natalie Shuman – Defender/Midfielder – 5-3 – Waynesville, N.C.
Shuman has been a member of the Trailblazers varsity soccer squad since seventh grade (2009). She was a member of the NCHEAC State Tournament championship team (2009, 10, 11 & 13). The Waynesville, N.C., native earned the Trailblazer Excellence Award in consecutive years (2012 & 13).
In 2010, Shuman was garnered to the NCHEAC All-Tournament Team while earning a spot on the 2012 NCODP squad. She was a member of the NC State Games West team in 2012 and '13. This past season she played club soccer for CESA 95 of the Elite Club National League, the highest level of club soccer in the country. She was dual-enrolled since her junior year.
Shuman played for 95 HFC Ladies Reds from 2008-2012.
"Natalie is the type of player who battles for everything. Her work rate is unmatched and she is a fearless competitor," said Whiting. "She also possesses the versatility to play all over the field and will be a great addition to our roster."
"After looking at numerous schools, Lees-McRae is a perfect fit for me," said Shuman. "From the weather, to soccer, to the school itself, it already feels like home."
Sydney Varney –Midfielder – 5-5 – Boones Mill, Va.
Varney has been a four-year member for Franklin County High School squad while playing for the Roanoke Star Soccer Elite Team from 2007-2014. The Boones Mill, Va., native grabbed the Player of the Year Award for the Western Valley Distric this past season. Varney has been named to the first-team all-district, first-team all-region and all-state team for her accomplishments on the pitch.
She racked up 46 goals and 48 assists while claiming an unblemished record during her senior campaign. Varney set the career assist record as well as the single season assist record while owning the overall point record at Franklin County.
Varney was a participant for the Olympic Development Program at a district level from 2008-2012 and at a state level from 2008-2010. She played in the Atlantic Soccer League from 2011-2012 while participating in a pair of European Tournaments. Both in 2010, she played in the Gothia Cup in Sweden and the Tivoli Cup in Denmark.
Academically, she sports a 3.95 grade-point average and served as class president as a sophomore. She is a member of the National Honors Society and is a member of Health Occupational Services of America. She is the daughter of Rodney and Kay Varney and has a younger sister named Lane. Her father played football at Virginia Tech.
"Sydney is a very technical player who possesses a great work rate," said Whiting. "She is going to be a sparkplug in our midfield and possesses the type of creativity that is hard to find."
"I chose Lees-McRae because it feels like home to me; from the campus to the girls on the team," said Varney. "It has every opportunity; academic and athletic, that I could ever need."
Whiting and the Bobcats will look to these six young ladies to help build on the success that the Lees-McRae women's soccer program has enjoyed over the past three seasons, capturing three consecutive Conference Carolinas regular season championships.
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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