Local HS soccer players finding opportunity at GCU

Grand Canyon University continues to build its women’s soccer program by fishing in the local talent pool.

The west Phoenix school recently announced the addition of six more signees for next year’s program, bringing the recruiting haul to 13.  Eight of that baker’s dozen hail from various parts of the state.

Three of the recent signees are either coming out of local high schools or are transferring back to the Valley after starting their college careers elsewhere.

Gina Buschatzke will be coming directly from Mountain Pointe HS, a part of the Tempe Union HS District.  The 5’9″ midfielder was a four-year starter for the Pride, which won the 5A-I state championship in 2007-08.  She led the team in assists in both her junior and senior years and was a First Team All-Fiesta Region selection.

Melanie Johnston and Samantha Roberts are returning to the Valley after playing a year out of state.

Johnston went from Chandler HS to Washington State University where she was named to the 2009 Pac-10 All-Freshman Team.  During her years at Chandler HS, where she also participated on the track team, the 5’3″ forward was a First Team pick in 2008-09 and helped the Wolves to the state playoffs as a senior.

Roberts played a year at Oral Roberts University after a stand-out career at Higley HS in Gilbert.  The 5’8″ midfielder played in 16 games as a freshman at ORU, starting five games.  At Higley, she was a three-time All-State and All-Region selection and helped lead the Knights to an undefeated season and the school’s first state championship in girls’ soccer.  She set a state record with 140 assists and finished her high school career with 78 goals.

In addition to these three, the ‘Lopes have added five more players with local ties, who had signed earlier.

Those include: Julia Mae Anglin, a junior defender who attended Scottsdale Community College after graduating from Desert Edge HS; Catherine Grace Lena, a goalkeeper who will be coming from Salpointe Catholic HS in Tucson; another goalkeeper, Stephanie Phillips, who attended Corona del Sol HS in Tempe and will be coming from Washington State as a junior; Cierra Valdez, a midfielder from Westview HS in Avondale; and Veronika Nikas, a forward from Veritas Preparatory Academy in Phoenix.

GCU graduated 10 seniors this year from a team that finished the 2009 season ranked No. 8 in the official NCAA Division II West Region poll – a first for the women’s soccer program.  The ‘Lopes compiled a 9-9-2 overall record, and 6-6-2 in the Pacific West Conference.

In 1996, the women’s soccer program was ranked as high as No. 3 in the nation.  The program changed head coaches in 2008, when Stevie Gill was elevated to the position after spending six years on the GCU coaching staff.  He also played for the college in 1996-99.

Six players from the 2009 squad were selected to the All-Pacific West Conference team.

This year’s recruiting class brings in five new midfielders and five players with college experience.  So the 2010 team shouldn’t lack depth.