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Courtesy: Princeton Athletic Communications

Women's Soccer to Welcome Seven in Class of 2018

By: Princeton Athletic Communications
          Release: 05/08/2014
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The Princeton women's soccer program will welcome seven freshmen in the Class of 2018, head coach Julie Shackford has announced.

The Tigers will graduate five seniors in the Class of 2014, a group that contributed in 2012 to an Ivy League title upon a 7-0 Ivy League season and a win in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

"We are incredibly excited about our 2018 group," Princeton head coach Julie Shackford said. "It is a highly talented group of student-athletes who made it clear throughout the recruiting process that they would each bring something special to our team and to the Princeton community. The group is passionate, energetic and committed to being immersed in the Princeton experience. Half the group has national-team experience and as Princeton attracts students from all over the world, we feel fortunate to have such a geographically diverse group. We look forward to integrating all seven student-athletes into our Princeton soccer family, and competing for an Ivy League championship this fall."

Alessia Azermadhi, of Vancouver, British Columbia, attended South Delta Secondary School and is a central midfielder. From 2010-12, she was part of the Canadian National Training Center and a member of the B.C. Provincial team that had second-place and third-place finishes at the Canadian championship. On the club level, Azermadhi played with Mountain United on the U-16 and U-18 teams, helping win an Adidas Cup title with the U-18 squad. For the last two years, Azermadhi has played with the Vancouver Whitecaps Elite U-18 team and serves as a team captain. A season ago, Azermadhi won provincial national and international championships with the Whitecaps team, including the Metro Women's League title, the Pacific Coast Soccer League Cup, and the McAdams Cup, becoming the first Canadian team to win the PCSL Women's Treble. Azermadhi's team also won the Gothia Cup in Sweden and gold at the Canada Games. She is fluent in French and is also able to speak and read Albanian.

"I chose the Princeton soccer program because I feel that it is a very tight-knit team committed to achieving success in all aspects," Azermadhi said.

Vanessa Gregoire is a central midfielder from Quebec, Canada and is training with the national U-20 team as it prepares for the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup that will be played in Canada. She is part of the Canadian National Excel program and has attended four U-20 national team training camps in the past year. At the club level, Gregoire plays for the Laval Comets in the USL W-League and previously played for Lakeshore SC where she won three provincial titles and two medal finishes at the Canadian National Club Championships. Gregoire was the Quebec Youth Player of the Year in 2013, and as a three-year captain on the Quebec Provincial team, led the team to two National All-Star Championships. In 2013, Gregoire was an underage member of the Quebec U-18 Provincial team that won silver at the Canada Games, resulting in an tournament all-star honor. She has been a member of the Canadian National Training Centre since 2010. Gregoire is an alumna of John Rennie High School in Pointe Claire, Quebec and is bilingual in French and English.

"I chose Princeton because I believe it offers me the absolute best combination of academic challenge and soccer development," Gregoire said. "I fell in love with Princeton on my first visit. I felt an immediate bond with the coaching staff and knew they would push me to develop and become the best I can be. There's a special family atmosphere about the team that I am incredibly excited to be a part of. With a beautiful campus, tremendous facilities, experienced coaches, an accomplished soccer program and strong academics, I knew Princeton was the place for me."


Gudrun (GOO-droon) Valdis Jonsdottir (YONES-doh-teer), a goalkeeper from Akranes (AH-krah-ness), Iceland, has played for the U-17 and U-19 Icelandic National Teams and has also trained with the full Icelandic National Team. She has played with her club team, IA Akranes, since 2003 and has helped the team to two Futsal titles and three Icelandic Championship runner-up finishes in addition to three West Coast regional titles and one League Cup. She was the team MVP in 2012 and helped the team to a promotion to the Icelandic Women's Premier Division in 2013. An alumna of the Comprehensive Secondary School of West Iceland, she received a merit scholarship from the University of Iceland and has received awards in subjects ranging from classical piano to the Danish language.

"When I first visited Princeton, it was obvious that Princeton women's soccer is more than just a soccer program," Jonsdottir said. "It has a welcoming and embracing atmosphere that I felt so strongly and made me feel like I belong there. The amazing coaching staff and great facilities at Princeton make it a place where I know I can improve and develop as a player as well as flourishing and growing as a person. I can't wait to become a part of the Princeton women's soccer family."


Natalie Larkin is an outside back from Washington, D.C. who has played with the Braddock Road Youth Club in Virginia and was recently called to the U.S. U-18 team camp. With the Braddock Road club, she was a U-16 USYS national champion, a U-16 and U-17 Virginia State Cup champion, and a U-17 and U-18 USYS National League champion. Larkin was an All-Met honorable mention by the Washington Post in 2011. In addition to her studies at Wilson High School, Larkin has worked with D.C. Scores, a nonprofit organization providing soccer and poetry opportunities to district residents.

"I chose Princeton because it offers an unbelievable balance of learning on and off the field," Larkin said. "I was very drawn in by the amazing sense of community and the infectious enthusiasm for Princeton I felt every time I visited."


Katie Pratt-Thompson, a central defender from Long Beach, California has played club soccer for Beach FC for eight years on a club currently ranked No. 4 in the nation. A two-year captain with Beach FC, Pratt-Thompson helped the team to a National League Blue Division championship in 2014 and to a Surf Cup final appearance in 2013, the same year that Beach was a Far West Regional quarterfinalist and a California South National Cup champion. At Wilson High School, Pratt-Thompson was a two-year captain for a program that won four league titles and a CIF Division II title. She was a two-time first-team all-league honoree, two-time first-team All-CIF, twice a team defensive MVP and twice the winner of the team's Most Inspirational award. Her mother, Lisa, played field hockey at Princeton and was a first-team All-Ivy League honoree during her career.

"I chose Princeton because I know they are not only focused on academic excellence but also athletic prowess," Pratt-Thompson said. "I immediately saw myself fitting in with the players as well as the coaching staff of the soccer program. I believe this is a team I could learn a great deal from while also making a positive contribution. It is a team and a university that I see myself calling home."


Beth Stella, a forward from Lake Forest Park, Washington is an alumna of King's High School was the leading scorer for her Crossfire club team on the current season, scoring six goals with two assists in 12 games played. Crossfire, for which Stella has played since the U-16 level, was ranked ninth in the nation in 2013. Stella previously played for the Northwest Nationals from age 11 through 15, contributing a national title in 2010 and regional titles in 2008 and 2009. At King's, she was named an all-state Most Valuable Player by the Washington State Soccer Coaches Association in 2013, an all-area honoree by the Seattle Times in 2013 and a two-time first-team all-state honoree while earning second-team all-state in her first two seasons. Stella was a three-time all-conference honoree, led the conference in scoring four times with a total of 32 goals and 12 assists, was the conference's offensive Player of the Year in 2012 and was the team's offensive POY in all four seasons. Stella competed in the state's Olympic Development Program four times between 2009 and 2013 and was a Region IV camp attendee. Through camps and cultural exchanges, Stella has been to China and Belize.

"I was 14 when I first visited Princeton with my club team from Washington and the beauty of the campus, its academic stature, and the great athletic program amazed me," Stella said. "I knew then that attending and playing at Princeton would be my goal. Being selected as a Tiger is a dream come true. I am so excited to be a part of the team and to have the outstanding opportunity to study at Princeton."


Mikaela Symanovich is a forward from San Francisco, California. Symanovich has played for the Olympic Development Program's California-North team for five years and the ODP Region IV team in three years since 2009. With the Region IV team, Symanovich won a championship in 2011 and was a semifinalist in 2012. Symanovich has also played with the Marin FC club team. With her University High School team, Symanovich was a four-year varsity starter and was a two-time Bay Counties League Player of the Year. A three-time all-league honoree, she was the top scorer for her high school and club teams the last four years and is currently ranked No. 1 in points for the North Coast Section on MaxPreps with 53. An all-around athlete, Symanovich played basketball and ran cross country at University High, earning all-league honors in basketball all four years and first-team all-league recognition in cross country in 2012. She helped her cross country team win league, sectional and California Division V titles during her career.

"I immediately fell in love with Princeton the first time I visited," Symanovich said. "I chose to attend Princeton because of the combination of outstanding academics and an excellent soccer team. I wanted a place that held players to a high standard both on and off the field and here I could see myself really enjoying the next four years of my life."







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