Claire Wheatley is one of six new Illini added by head coach Janet Rayfield on 2013 National Signing Day.
Feb. 7, 2013
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois soccer head coach Janet Rayfield announced the addition of six members to the 2013 signing class on Thursday. The newcomers to the Illini soccer family include Alia Abu-Douleh (Schaumburg, Ill./Marion HS), Hope D'Addario (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley HS), Meegan Johnston (Grayslake, Ill./Carmel Catholic HS), Jenna Miller (Winnetka, Ill./New Trier HS), Allison Stucky (Brecksville, Ohio/Brecksville Broadview Heights HS) and Claire Wheatley (Plano, Texas/ Plano West Senior HS).
"I am excited about this class because it has the potential to be an incredibly synergistic group," Rayfield said. "It is difficult when you recruit as early as we do to make sure you get the right pieces of the complex puzzle of putting a group together with different strengths. I think we have done that exceptionally well with this class. They collectively can win balls on the ground and out of the air, can play make with great technical ability, they can threaten and score, while at the same time they can be stingy defensively on the field and in the goal. It is a complete class that will learn and grow together and will keep Illinois a complete and nationally competitive team in the future."
Casey Conine (Leslie, Mich.), who joined the Illini as an early enrollee for the 2013 spring semester, is the seventh member of the 2013 class. Conine was coached by Doug Landefeld during her time with the Michigan Hawks, which is the same club team as current Illini Taylore Peterson and Aliina Weykamp.
Find a full breakdown on the successful careers of the newest Illini and quotes from coach Rayfield below.
Meet the Newest Illini
Hometown: Schaumburg, Ill.
High School: Marion
High School Coach: Bart Orso
Club Team: St. Louis Scott Gallagher Metro ECNL
Club Coach: Dale Schilly
Notes: Member of the 2011 all-sectional team in high school ... Named 2011 Marion High School MVP and 2010 Rookie of the Year ... Ranked second academically in her senior class ... Plans to major in architecture.
Rayfield on Abu-Douleh: "Alia has demonstrated in our Elite summer camps and on the field with her team, a competitive nature, a natural athleticism, and a strong desire to continue to develop her game to the next level. With her versatility and high work rate, she will provide an energetic and high-activity presence in the midfield that will be effective with the high speed of play possession style game Illinois is known for playing."
Hometown: Leslie, Mich.
Club Team: Michigan Hawks
Club Coach: Doug Landefeld
Notes: 2012 Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) finalist at the U17 National Championship ... Named to the ECNL Player Development Program ... Coached by Doug Landefeld during time with Michigan Hawks ... Member of the 2011 Region II United States Youth Soccer Association (USYSA) championship team ... Was a part of the Olympic Developmental Program (ODP) Interregional Camp and Region II Pool.
Rayfield on Conine: "Casey brings an incredible work ethic to accompany her ability in the air, her ability to read the game, and her composure as a defender. She will benefit greatly from the spring semester, and it will allow us to incorporate her strengths into the team over the course of the semester. Casey will strengthen our defense and our team as we look to build on the success from the fall."
Hometown: Naperville, Ill.
High School: Neuqua Valley
High School Coach: Joe Moreau
Club Team: Team Chicago
Club Coach: Phil Nielsen
Notes: Helped lead her club team to the 2012-13 United States Youth Soccer (USYS) National League title ... Club team took third at the 2012 USYS National Championships after capturing the state and regional titles that year ... Team captain on her club team since 2008 ... Club teammates with fellow signee Meegan Johnston ... Four-year varsity player and team captain during her junior and senior seasons at Neuqua Valley HS ... Two-time first-team all-conference and all-county/area selection following her sophomore and junior seasons ... Three-time academic all-conference honoree.
Rayfield on D'Addario: "Hope is a technically proficient and tactically advanced soccer player. Her composure, service ability, and play making from the defensive third is very good and makes her a great attacking component coming out of the back. As she elevates her defending to match the elite college level players, her play on both sides of the ball will rival some of the best."
Position: Outside Midfield
Hometown: Grayslake, Ill.
High School: Carmel Catholic
High School Coach: John Halloran
Club Team: Team Chicago
Club Coach: Phil Nielsen
Notes: Helped lead her club team to the 2012-13 United States Youth Soccer (USYS) National League title ... Club team took third at the 2012 USYS National Championships after capturing the state and regional titles that year ... Team Chicago also was Brondby Cup (Denmark) champions in 2012 ... Club teammates with fellow signee Hope D'Addario ... Boasts Olympic Development Program (ODP) experience as part of '95 Region II team and Thanksgiving Interregional from 2010-12 ... ODP national champions in 2010-11 ... Selected to the All-Star Team at the 2012 Thanksgiving Interregional event ... High school accomplishments include being selected as all-area as a junior and all-area honorable mention as a freshman and sophomore.
Rayfield on Johnston: "You will immediately notice Meegan and her unmatched ability to strike a ball as we did when she was a high school freshman teammate of current Illinois player Kassidy Brown. Meegan is a threat to score from almost anywhere, and she can unbalance defenses with her precision long service ability. She continues to develop her play making, which creates a double edge sword that makes her ever more dangerous as an attacking player."
Hometown: Winnetka, Ill.
Club Team: Eclipse Select
Club Coach: Mike Nesci
Notes: Team captain of Eclipse Select club team, which was the 2012 ECNL U-17 regular season champion ... Club team took third at the 2009 United States Youth Soccer (USYS) National Championships ... Club team won four Illinois State Cup Championships in 2006, 2008-09 and 2011.
Rayfield on Miller: "Jenna is the player who leaves her heart and soul on the field every time she competes. She has captained her club team for some time and can always be heard leading, encouraging, challenging and inspiring. She loves to tackle and be the opponent's nemesis. She is a ball winner and a fighter and can give this class the blue-collar grittiness that all great teams need and have."
Position: Center Midfield
Hometown: Brecksville, Ohio
High School: Brecksville Broadview Heights
High School Coach: Tony Niccoli
Club Team: Internationals
Club Coach: Zdravko Popovic
Notes: Listed among the Top Drawer Soccer and ESPNHS Class of 2013 Top 150 ... Club team won three state championships ... Boasts Olympic Development Program (ODP) experience as part of the Region II regional team along with being a part of the U-15 and U-17 national pool ... Second-team all-state selection in high school along with being picked as a team and conference MVP.
Rayfield on Stucky: "If Jenna is the inspirational glue of this class, Allison will be the technical glue that connects the pieces on the field and makes sure that everyone can take advantage of their strengths. Her playmaking skills will make those around her better and as she becomes more of a threat herself, she can develop into the type of player who dictates the pace of the game and impacts it as well."
Hometown: Plano, Texas
High School: Plano West Senior HS
High School Coach: Carley Phillips
Club Team: Solar 95 ECNL
Club Coach: Christopher Gangi
Notes: Member of the U-17 Women's National Team Training Camps in 2011-12 ... Part of the U.S. Women's National Team Goalkeeper Identification Camp in 2012 ... Listed among the Top Drawer Soccer and ESPNHS Class of 2013 Top 150 ... Boasts Olympic Development Program (ODP) experience as part of the Region III team from 2010-12 and playing in the Thanksgiving Interregional Event in 2010-11 ... Participated in the ECNL Player Development Program Dallas Event in 2012 ... Led her high school to the Texas 5A state championship in 2012 and was named Texas 5A Championship Player of the Game ... High school team captain during her junior and senior seasons.
Rayfield on Wheatley: "Claire, like all goalkeepers, brings a presence and a personality along with vast experience in the goal at a variety of levels. She has been part of a state championship high school team, impacts the results for a top club team, and has trained and competed as a member of the U.S. National Team in camp and competition over the last few years. She has aspirations to wear the United States Goalkeeping jersey for the full team some day and with the necessary work ethic and the coaching she will receive here from Coach Alcia - she has the tools."