Women’s Soccer Announces Strong Group of Five Signees – University of North Florida Athletics

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – North Florida women’s soccer makes public the signing of five new Ospreys as announced by head coach Eric Faulconer and staff. Joining North Florida are three in-state student-athletes, one out of Georgia and another from Maryland.

    “Our staff is very excited about our 2023 class,” head coach Eric Faulconer said. “Our recruiting always emphasizes character first and all five of our incoming freshmen epitomize the type of student-athlete we want in our program. I am very grateful to so many members of our campus community who welcomed the opportunity to showcase what UNF has to offer. I greatly appreciate their involvement in the recruitment process. Each one of our five signees has the opportunity to make an impact from day one,” Faulconer said. “I feel strongly that this class is going to help raise the level of our program to even greater heights, both on and off the field.”

    Layla Thompson

    High School:
    Lawton Chiles High School

    Hometown:  Tallahassee, Fla.

    Current Club: ASG Florida

    Height: 5’8″

    Position: Defender

    Academic and Athletic Awards

    • High Honor Roll
    • National Honor Society
    • AP Scholar
    • Four-year varsity starter
    • “Scholar Athlete” throughout high school soccer career
    • CHS “Rookie of the Year” as a freshman
    • CHS “Player of the Year” as a junior
    • Named to the All-Big Bend Soccer Team for Defense multiple years
    • Named to the FACA All-State Team and FACA All State Academic Team throughout high school soccer career
    • Former JFC ECNL player, named to the I-10 league regional team, ASG Club Team Captain, Chiles High School Team Captain

    Head Coach Eric Faulconer on Layla
    “Layla is a very versatile player that can play both the outside back position or as a wide player in the frontline. She possesses good size, pace and has a very attacking mindset. She came to our College ID camp on several occasions and every time she returned, she showed tremendous amounts of improvement in her game.  She is a good fit for us in terms of our style of play and we are confident that Layla is going to definitely help our program.” 

    Coach Aaron Otis on Layla (ASG Soccer Club, Andy Warner, Director of Coaching & Coach Chris Levan, ASG Soccer Club, Chiles High School Girls Soccer)

    “Layla is a driven player who constantly strives to grow her immense tactical and technical knowledge. Layla primarily plays outside back with the desire to always get involved in the attack, but her versatility has led her to be played in a variety of positions on the pitch where her physical abilities shine. Layla is a “first name on the team sheet” type of player. She is the team captain for her club and high school teams. She demonstrates exceptional leadership skills with her teammates and the coaching staff.  Layla attends Lawton Chiles High School in Tallahassee where she excels off the field, retaining a very impressive GPA while remaining an integral part of a whirlwind school program. Throughout COVID-19 shutdowns, constantly changing coaching staff, significant program culture changes and varied systems/styles of play, Layla has been an ever-present staple of the program and will graduate as a four-year starter. We cannot wait to see what she brings to this UNF Program.” 

    Avery Raimondo

    • High School: St. John’s Country Day School
    • Hometown: St. Johns, FL
    • Club: North Florida Soccer Academy
    • Height: 5’3″
    • Position: Midfielder

    Academic and Athletic Awards:

    • ODP Inter-Regional Team 2021
    • ODP Region Team 2016-2021
    • ECNL Southeastern PDP 2018
    • High school State Champion 2021
    • ECNL 2014-2020
    • Academic Honor Roll
    • FCA
    • Captain of high school team
    • Captain of ECNL team at JFC and FESA
    • Played at ECNL Nationals 

    Head Coach Eric Faulconer on Raimondo
    “I believe we found a true diamond with Avery Raimondo. She is an excellent ball-distributing holding midfielder and has a very high-level soccer IQ. She is always moving and adjusting off the ball and her transitional game is strong. She is very technical, creative and tactically can solve a lot of what the opponent throws at her. She plays the game two to three steps ahead and I really think she is going to be an excellent addition to our midfield.”

    Mike Pickett on Avery (Head Girls Coach, St.  Johns Country Day School, Director North Florida Soccer Academy)

    “Avery “Rae Rae” Raimondo is a tactical master in the game.  Her positioning and ability to read the game are top notch.  She is extremely humble and hardworking, always putting the team in front of herself.  She is an absolute joy to coach and I look forward to following her success at UNF.”

    Courtney Allen

    • High School: Richmond Hill High School
    • Hometown: Richmond Hill, Ga.
    • Current Club: Played at United Soccer Alliance (Clay County Soccer Club), Tormenta FC, and Coastal Empire FC
    • Height: 5’6″ 
    • Position: Midfield/Forward

    Academic and Athletic Awards

    • Two-time all-region team selection
    • All Coastal Empire First Team
    • High school sports award, 2021
    • 6A region champions, 2022
    • South Carolina State Champions, 2019
    • Georgia Southern dual enrollment
    • Early enrolment at UNF Spring, 2023
    • Club teammate of UNF freshman, Brialyn Anderson

    Head Coach Eric Faulconer on Courtney
    “We are very excited about the addition of Courtney and think she has the ability to make an immediate impact in our midfield. Off the field, Courtney has a quiet disposition, but once she is in between the lines of a soccer field, she becomes the ultimate competitor.  She is the type of player that wants the ball at her feet and wants to put her stamp on the game. She has the ability to break down a backline off the dribble and make the key pass that is needed to create goal scoring opportunities. She also strikes the ball well and is quite capable of scoring goals.  Courtney is participating in early enrolling at UNF in January and we are looking forward to her arrival on campus.”

    Former Head Coach Jeremy Aven at Tormenta FC on Courtney

    “I have had the fortune and pleasure of working with Courtney over the last several years. She is a very motivated and hardworking young lady who is surrounded by a supportive family that has helped her achieve her goal of playing collegiately. She has spent countless hours on the field, in the car and at training and games over her entire youth career and it’s great to see a player like her accomplish so much. I look forward to watching her continue to grow both on and off the field when she gets to UNF. Good luck, Courtney!”

    Zoe Looker

    • High School: J.R Arnold High School
    • Hometown: Panama City Beach, FL
    • Club: Concorde Fire
    • Height: 5’10”
    • Position: Midfield

    Academic and Athletic Awards

    • Played for the Welsh National U16 team
    • Started against Scotland and made an appearance versus Portugal
    • Also represented Wales in the Bob Docherty Cup in Salou Spain
    • Junior and senior captain for high school team
    • Freshman player of the year
    • All Bay County first team freshman, sophomore, and junior year
    • Freshman, sophomore, and junior academic award recipient
    • Florida High School State-runner up in 2021
    • Played her club soccer with Concorde Fire

    Head Coach Eric Faulconer on Zoe
    “Zoe is going to provide us with some much-needed size in the middle of the pitch. She has all the tools to be an outstanding collegiate player. She is tactically savvy, hardworking and is very technical.  She has the ability to play equally well with both feet.  Zoe and her family made a huge commitment to her development, as she played her club soccer five plus hours from home. I think that says a lot about the type of student-athlete that is joining our program.  We are looking forward to Zoe’s arrival on campus this fall.”

    Coach Larry Cecchini (J.R. Arnold H.S.) on Zoe

    “Zoe is a playmaker with great technical skills who can use both feet when shooting or passing. She reads the game well, which makes her a dangerous player both on and off the ball. She has the mental and physical ability to control the game from the middle of the field.”

    Cate Shepherd

    • High School: St Timothy’s 
    • Hometown: Baldwin, Maryland
    • Club: Pipeline Soccer Club
    • Height: 5’6″
    • Position: Forward

    Academic and Athletic Awards

    • Selected to the U16 United States Youth National Team Player Pool in 2020
    • Ranked as a 4-star prospect by Top Drawer Soccer and 85th Overall nationally and 3rd regionally in the 2023 class
    • Ranked the 26th best forward nationally by Top Drawer Soccer in the 2023 class
    • Five Time Weekly Club Soccer Standout by TopDrawer Soccer
    • Top 10 in the Nation in Goals Scored in the US Development Academy (2019, 2020)

    Head Coach Eric Faulconer on Cate
    “Obviously, Cate’s soccer resume speaks for itself, but it’s the person that our staff and team fell in love with. She is truly a remarkable young woman.  All you have to do is spend some time with Cate to realize all her wonderful attributes. This past season we created a lot of chances and we were very strong defensively but struggled to find that last bit of quality needed to put the ball in the back of the net.  We feel Cate has the skill set to not only score goals for us, but also make those around her better. She understands the fine nuances of the forward position, but more importantly she plays the game with an incredible amount of passion and desire. Cate was looking for the right fit both academically and athletically and we are glad she found UNF. We are very excited to have her as a part of our Osprey family.”

    ECNL Director Pipeline Soccer Club – Danny Skelton on Cate

    “It has been a tremendous pleasure to have had the opportunity to work with Cate Shepherd over the past 5 years.  Cate is one of those players that not only makes coaching so enjoyable but one that I will never forget!  Her journey as a player has been nothing short of inspirational as I have watched as she has faced and overcome challenges that most young women her age would have never been able to take on.  Cate’s drive and passion for the game of soccer is second to none, her passion comes through on the field in the form of a relentless work ethic and yearning to constantly challenge herself, push her boundaries, and improve.  She is gifted technically and has developed an incredible tactical awareness that will allow her to have an instant impact at the University of North Florida, but it is her competitive drive that separates Cate from her peers and what makes her such a formidable goal scorer who will be a nightmare for her opponents during her time at UNF.  Cate will be greatly missed at Pipeline Soccer Club but we are honored to have her represent our club and we look forward to seeing what she accomplishes at the next level!”


    Source link

    Related articles



    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here

    Share article

    Latest articles


    Subscribe to stay updated.