The UCLA women’s soccer team announced the addition of the nation’s No. 4 recruiting class for the 2014 season Monday.
The class of eight incoming freshmen will include forward MacKenzie Cerda, forward/defender Allie Dutto, midfielder/defenders Sam Kokoska and Gabrielle Matulich, defenders Reema Bzeih and Chloe Hemingway and goalkeepers Siri Ervik and Arielle Schechtman.
“This class is really versatile,” said coach Amanda Cromwell. “They’re players that can fill a lot of different roles for us.”
One of those roles will be an open spot at defensive midfielder in the Bruins’ 4-2-3-1 starting formation, once held by senior midfielder Jenna Richmond, who graduated from the program at the end of the 2013 season and is currently a player at FC Kansas City in the National Women’s Soccer League.
Based on the nature of their positions, Kokoska and Matulich could be prime candidates to fill in that role or take over the backup defensive midfielder role that freshman Lauren Kaskie held throughout the 2013 season.
The coaches have said that, without time to conduct a proper evaluation of each incoming freshman, what role each prospective Bruin is slated to step into is still up in the air.
“When everyone gets here we’ll see where everybody is and if they have potential they probably will step in and play,” said assistant coach Louise Lieberman. “It will just depend on how things unfold for all the players and how everyone starts to develop those positions and where we think people fit in best.”
Following the graduation of redshirt senior goalkeeper Alana Munger, another need that the soccer team has to address is at the backup goalkeeper position behind junior Katelyn Rowland.
With the addition of Ervik and Schectman, the Bruins will be able to not only fill that position but also enhance the quality of the team’s practice sessions.
“Having four goalkeepers is really good for training purposes,” Cromwell said. “It’s going to create an environment that’s really competitive and they’re going to be able to grow in it.”
With four members of the 2014 team graduating and eight incoming freshmen added to the squad, the UCLA team is projected to have a total of 37 members going into next year.
“The good thing for us is we have this huge selection of talent,” said assistant coach Joshua Walters. “It makes the problem we have with selecting players difficult, but it’s also a blessing. Every position we have, we’re going to be two or three deep in. We have kind of a next man up philosophy – whoever’s getting it done at the time will be in the 11 and play.”
The incoming freshmen will be expected to officially report for their first day as members of the UCLA women’s soccer team on Aug. 5.
Before that date, there will be unofficial captain-led training sessions that will give the incoming freshmen the option of getting acquainted with the team before their training officially begins.