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Women's Recruiting Jul 26, 2023

Multiple recruits from Crossfire Premier, other renowned youth clubs sign with Rice University

HOUSTON — Rice Soccer head coach Brian Lee has announced the addition of eight players as a part of this year’s freshman class.

Forward Sophie Zhang (Sammamish, Wash.), midfielders Mia Brumlow (Houston, Texas), Jordyn Mariam (La Jolla, Calif.), and Elizabet Volkova (Lynnwood, Wash.), and defenders Isabelle Kent (Sugar Land, Texas), Lauren Pickup (England), Olivia Pielak (Tampa, Fla.), and Kirsten Ruf (Somerset, N.J.) will join the Owls for the 2023-24 athletic season.

Brumlow, a midfielder, played for the Houston Dash. Last year, she helped them to the Frontier Conference championship, scoring eight goals and assisting on six others. She was also a two-time invite to the Frontier Conference Talent ID Event. In prep action, she played for Lisa Manis at Clear Lake High School, where she helped the Falcons to three-straight district championships and a spot in the 2023 Region 3 Semifinals. Brumlow was a First Team All-District and two-time All-Region honoree, while also earning District 24-6A MVP as a junior, and Offensive MVP last year, scoring 18 goals and adding nine assists. She was also twice named Academic All-District and made the Academic All-State Team last year.

Kent, a defender, played for Challenge SC, where she served as a team captain last year. In 2019, she helped them to a National Playoff appearance. She also played for Robert Boagni at Clements High School where she helped the Rangers to an 11-3-2 record. A three-time First Team All-District honoree, she scored seven goals and assisted on three others last year. In her career, she recorded 24 goals and had 14 assists. She was also a four-time Academic All-District honoree and earned Academic All-State honors as a senior by both the Texas Association of Soccer Coaches and the Texas High School Coaches Association.

Mariam, a midfielder, played for Del Mar Carmel Valley, where she twice helped them qualify for the ECNL playoffs while also leading them to the Surf Cup championship. She was a three-time member of the ECNL standouts. Mariam also played for Scott Morrison at The Bishop’s School, where she twice led the Knights to the Coastal League Championship. As a senior, she was named to the All-Coastal League Team after scoring 10 goals and adding four assists. Her performance also helped her earn the Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

Pickup, a defender, played for Bristol City FC for the Under-21 team in the WSL Academy. While playing for Bristol City, Pickup also played for the Independent Schools Football Association (ISFA) where she had the opportunity to play national teams such as Scotland and Wales. Prior to Bristol City, she played for Chelsea FC for five years. During that time, Pickup also participated in many camps for England’s youth teams and earned her first International Cap for England’s U15 team in a 2-0 victory over Belgium in 2019.

Pielak, a defender, played for the West Florida Flames, where she helped them to the Summit Championship. They ranked first in the Sunshine League three straight years, reaching the State Cup finals and the National Tournament. Se also played for Kenneth Roberts at Berkeley Prep, where she helped the Buccaneers to the District championship last year. She was selected for the county and West Coast State All-Star Teams while earning the Janet Alvarez Hillsborough County Player of the Year Award. As a freshman and sophomore, she scored 31 goals and recorded 17 assists before moving to the back line for her final two seasons.

Ruf, a defender, played for PDA South, where she earned Second Team North Atlantic Conference honors. She also played for Chris Petit at Princeton Day School, where she helped the Panthers to the 2019 NJISAA State Championship. A four-time All-Prep and All-Area member, she was named one of’s Top 85 Seniors. In her career, she scored 19 goals and assisted on 16 others, including two goals and two assists as a senior.

Velkova, a midfielder, played for Crossfire Premier where she helped them finish first in Washington and second in their conference. They made it to the National Playoffs three straight seasons, including a spot in the Final Eight in 2022. She also played for Kosta Pitharoulis at Kamiak High School, where she scored three goals and added an assist. In the 2023 UEFA Women’s Under-19 Championship, Velkova played for Bulgaria and saw action in five matches, scoring one goal and adding an assist.

Zhang, a forward, played for Crossfire Premier and was ranked seventh in the Pacific Northwest region by TopDrawerSoccer for the class of 2023. She helped Crossfire to the National Playoffs in three consecutive years, including a spot in the Final Eight in 2022. She also played for Don Braman at Skyline High School, where she helped the Spartans to the KingCo 4A state championship, scoring the game-winning goal in a 2-0 victory. Last season, she participated in the High School All-American Game after being named All-State First Team and KingCo Offensive MVP. As a senior, she set the school record for points in a season, scoring 21 goals and adding 23 assists. She also set the career record with 48 goals and 34 assists. In 2020, Zhang also participated in a U17 U.S. Women’s National Team Camp.