Feb. 1, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. --- University of Georgia soccer head coach Steve Holeman on Wednesday announced the addition of seven student-athletes to join the Bulldogs this coming fall.
Holeman's 2012 class includes five players from Georgia and one apiece from New Jersey and New York. The group is comprised of three forwards, three defenders, and one midfielder, and includes three players listed on the ESPN Top 150.
"Our entire staff is very excited about this incoming class of freshmen," said Holeman, who enters his third season in Athens. "It is a talented, athletic, aggressive and hard-working group. This class has a lot of competitive drive, and that's a quality that will continue to improve the complexion of this program."
"We're thrilled with the top Georgia players who have committed to UGA and also with the two standouts from the northeast," Holeman added. "Most of these girls will compete for a starting spot right off the bat, and that's going to make everybody better. In addition to this class, redshirt freshmen Bella Hartley and Ansley Morgan along with SEC Freshman of the Year, Laura Eddy, are back from injury, and that is great news for the Georgia Bulldogs. This is going to be an exciting year for Georgia soccer and we're all eager for August to get here so we can go to work."
Mariah Dickey - a forward out of Lawrenceville, Ga., joins the Bulldogs from Collins Hill High School and played club soccer with the Gwinnett Soccer Association (GSA). Dickey was named all-state in 2011, setting the school record for the fastest goal scored as she put one in just 12 seconds into a contest last season. With Collins Hill, Dickey won the Region 7-AAAAA championship in 2009 and 2011, and was voted Best Offensive Player on the team both of those years. With GSA, Dickey led the squad in goals and assists in 2011.
"Mariah is an exciting addition to our attack," Holeman said. "She's tough, physical and most of all fast. She's a pure burner who can change a game with her pace because she's got the ability to get behind defenses. Her speed makes her a threat to turn nothing into something and that's going to be a problem for any opponent. Mariah is a grinder who is good at knocking players off the ball to create chances for herself. In front of goal she is a scrappy and efficient finisher."
Andrea Fontanetta joins the Bulldogs from Neshanic Station, N.J., out of Mount Saint Mary Academy and Player Development Academy (PDA). The forward was named Skyland Conference/Raritan Division first-team for three seasons, and was a fixture on the state's scoring leaders list. Fontanetta's PDA club team was named the No. 1 club in the nation in 2009-10.
"Andie has a fantastic blend of talent, pace and aggression and the confidence to want the ball when the game is on the line," Holeman said. "She's a proven goal-scorer as well as a tough, punishing player. Andie plays with reckless disregard for her own body and tackles as hard as anyone on the field. She's the type of forward that defenders hate to play against because she's just relentless. Andie's willingness to chase down defenders and put in tackles makes her a perfect fit for our style of play."
Elizabeth Johnson, a defender, hails from Marietta and Fellowship Christian High School. She played club soccer with the North Atlanta Soccer Association (NASA Elite). Johnson was named team MVP in 2011 and is listed as an ESPN Top 150 prospect. With NASA, Johnson took third place in the national championship tournament in 2011 and was national league champion in 2010. She also captained the Georgia ODP team for four years.
"EJ is a solid all-around defender with good size, strength and technical ability," Holeman said. "She's well known for her work rate, discipline and leadership qualities which are critical for a central defender. EJ's ability to read the game makes her an excellent positional defender."
Toriana Patterson is a defender from Yorktown Heights High School in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., who played club soccer with Quickstrike FC. Patterson is also an ESPN Top 150 selection and was named all-league, all-conference and all-section in 2011. With her club team she won a state championship in 2008 and 2010, and played for the New York state ODP squad from 2004-08. She is a member of the Jamaica U-20 National Team.
"Tori is a very talented center back who has gained invaluable experience with the Jamaican U-20 national team over the past two years," Holeman said. "She's physically strong and very clean technically. Her decision-making and her composure on the ball are really advanced qualities for a young player. Tori is one of the best defenders coming out of Region I and we're excited to have her here at Georgia."
Liliana Rios is a midfielder from Duluth, Ga., and Marist High School, who played club soccer with the United Futbol Academy (UFA). Rios won the AAAA state championship in 2009 with Marist and reached the quarterfinals in 2010. With UFA, she was a state champion from 2009-11 and a finalist in 2008. She has been in the ODP Region III camp from 2007-10 and in the regional pool in 2009.
"Liliana is a very polished technical player who can excel in our possession-style attack," Holeman said. "She is very good at escaping pressure on the dribble and is very reliable as a player who will keep the ball for her team. Liliana's vision and composure on the ball are big strengths that will serve her well at the next level."
Cara Smith is a forward out of Evans, Ga., and the Westminster Schools of Augusta, who played club soccer with GSA. Smith was named to the all-area, all-region, and all-state teams from 2009-11 and was her team's Offensive MVP those years. She scored 67 goals and added 47 assists her first two years of high school and led her team to the state semifinals in 2011 after winning the championship in 2009 and reaching the finals in 2010. With GSA, Smith was a seven-time state cup champion (2005-11).
"Cara is an exciting attacker with a wonderful combination of speed, talent and a predisposition for scoring goals," Holeman said. "She suffered an ACL injury during her junior year but has looked very sharp since her return to the field. She is an exceptionally creative player who thrives in 1v1 situations where she can run at a defender to create chances for herself and her teammates. She's a natural goal-scorer with an affinity for popping up in the right place at the right time and finishing her chances."
Rounding out the class is Marietta native Emma Sonnett, a defender from Fellowship Christian and NASA Elite. She is the Bulldogs' third ESPN Top 150 signee, garnering the accolade after being named an ESPN third-team All-America in 2010. She is a nine-year member of NASA, reaching the US Youth National semifinals in 2011 and taking the Region III championship.
"Emma has really come into her own over this past year as a high level defender," Holeman said. "She's fast, strong and courageous and can play with either foot, and she's a very good header of the ball. Emma reads the game well and has excellent defensive instincts and her communication has improved dramatically. She'll make an excellent addition to our corps of defenders."
Over the past several seasons, true freshmen have played a vital role in Georgia's success on the pitch. In the last five years, three Bulldogs have been named SEC Freshman of the Year (Carrie Patterson in 2006, Kelli Corless in 2007 and Laura Eddy in 2009). In 2010, Alexa Newfield was the only freshman in the conference named to the All-SEC first team while Jenna Owens was named to the All-Freshman team this past season, continuing the Bulldogs' trend of bringing in strong classes that make an immediate impact.
The incoming group will help bolster a team that won 13 games in 2011 en route to a trip to the NCAA second round for just the sixth time in school history.
Complete signee information is attached in PDF format.