Texas Tech Soccer unveils 11-player recruiting class
LUBBOCK, Texas – Head coach Tom Stone has announced the signing of 11 new members to the Texas Tech soccer program.
Tech’s large class features five defenders, four forwards, one midfielder and a Lubbock-born goalkeeper. The class hails primarily from Texas – eight signees in total from the Lone Star State – with additional pick-ups from Arizona, Kansas and Oklahoma.
“Every year culture walks out the door, and every year new culture walks in,” said Stone. “It’s a big class to manage, but it’s a talented class of great, committed kids who come from great families. We’re looking forward to getting them in here.”
A stellar defender from Keller, Texas, who racked up the accolades while playing for Solar SC. Blackburn was an All-American while with Solar, whom she led to a USYS national title in 2016 and ECNL national championship in 2017. In 2019, when Solar switched to the U.S. Development Academy, Blackburn again led her squad to a national title. Blackburn has represented on United States at the U-17 national team, last season playing with the squad in Sweden and the Czech Republic.
“Macy committed to us when she was in eighth grade,” said Stone. “We’ve been in a five-year countdown for her to get here. She has exceeded our expectations and has gotten better each and every year. She’s a classic wide player: she can defend like a beast and can get forward. She’ll be one our fans see go box-to-box.”
Lubbock-born Madelynn Carroll-Madden signs with Tech by way of Frisco’s Reedy High and the esteemed Dallas Texans club. Carroll-Madden is an ECNL Texas Conference champion with D’Feeters, a club with whom she led to the ECNL national playoffs last year. The 5-foot-8 keeper is a lifelong Red Raider fan whose parents attended Tech.
“Madelynn shows great composure in net,” said associate head coach Gibbs Keeton, who oversees Tech’s keeper unit. “Her composure is complimented with good distribution when the ball is at her feet. She is an exceptional shot stopper, specifically when she needs to move across goal and use her lateral range.”
Stone’s second signee from the state of Arizona (Brooke Denesik), Kennedy Chambers will come to Lubbock with national team experience. Chambers is a strong defender who received call-ups to the U.S. U-15 national team in 2017 and 2018. She is also an all-state and all-region selection with Utah Royals.
“She’s got pace, passing, heading and is a shutdown defender,” said Stone. “She’s got some class about her as she comes out of the back and really hates to lose. We can’t wait to get Kennedy here. She’s going to battle right from the start and work for her place in the squad.
A three-year letterwinner at Tomball High who played her club ball with the Houston Dash Youth squad. Described as an intelligent defender, she helped lead the Dash Youth to the Development Academy Cup.
“Alexis comes from a soccer family and it shows in her soccer IQ,” said Stone. “She’s tough. We got out to her on a couple elements of her game we wanted her to develop and she immediately went after it. She’s a winner and we’re looking forward to having her. She’s going to be a big part of our back line as we continue to rebuild it over the coming years.”
A skillful forward from the ranks of FC Dallas and former Tech coaches Aaron and Ashley Gordon. Giametta helped lead her club to the DA Final Four after finishing sixth in the nation in goals scored. At Prosper High, where she lettered two years, the 5-foot-5 striker was a district offensive MVP.
“The cool thing about Kaitlyn is how smart she is,” said Stone. “We looked for her to take a step her senior year, and the first game I watched her at she blasted two against one of the top teams in the country. She’s got a creative side and prides herself in it, but we love her productivity, too. When you’re around Kaitlyn, you get better.”
Kameron Kloza becomes a Red Raider after four strong years at Lee High in San Antonio. A two-time all-area honoree and three-time first-team all-district selection, Kloza tallied 24 goals while owning a commanding presence on the back line. On the club scene, the fearless defender finished top-three in the ECNL’s Player of the Year voting after the 2018-19 season after leading the club to a nationals appearance.
“Kam is really the consummate defender,” said Stone. “She does not shy away from contact. In fact, in some cases you almost have to reign her in. She’s just looking for a battle. Great tackler, tremendous in the air, great ball striker and can pass and play out of the back. She fits us. I think our fans will say, ‘Of course you recruited her – she fits the mold of Texas Tech Soccer.’”
Stone’s first-ever signee from the state of Kansas, Hailey Palmer will make her way to Texas an all-state selection from Blue Valley High School, where she lettered three years. A dynamic forward, Palmer was a First Team All-Eastern Kansas League honoree, while playing her club ball with the KC Athletics.
“Here’s the thing with Hailey,” Stone said. “She’s very unique in that she is a very smart player and very physically gifted. She’s a great back-to-goal player and can score. She’s one of those kids that just scored every time we went to see her. Whenever you can produce at the highest level of club soccer, it looks good going into the college scene. I think she’s going to be a great for us.”
A four-year letterwinner at Vandergrift High who knocked in 19 goals and led her squad to back-to-back seasons of breaking the school record for winning percentage. Vandergrift won two district titles with Pehrson up top. The forward is a two-time all-district selection who played club with the Austin Sting. Also played basketball at Vandergrift.
“The female dribbler is a dying breed,” Stone said. “Kaya is an exquisite dribbler. She can dance around people and smash it into the top corner. She is a multi-sport athlete, too, and can jump out of the gym. She’s fearless in the air, but her most desirable attribute is her ability to break people down one-on-one. Every time we’ve watched her, she’s been on fire. We’re excited to have her.”
Born in Charlotte, N.C., Cassie Taylor will add to the midfield in Lubbock by way of Allen High. Praised for a high soccer IQ and stellar passing ability, Taylor was a two-year letterwinner and first team all-district honoree before focusing on her play with ECNL’s Dallas Sting. She is a two-time ECNL All-Texas Conference selection while leading the Sting to nationals three times. In 2018, Taylor’s squad won the Dallas Girls International Cup. High school and club teammates with fellow signing class member Ashleigh Williams.
“Cassie stood out from the very first time we saw her,” Stone said. “She’s tall, incredibly skillful and has a big presence on the field. You can be as athletic and have as big a presence as you want, but if you don’t have good feet it’s hard for us because we’re a passing team. She’s just got it all. She’s going to walk in next year and be a beast in our midfield.”
Strong forward who was an all-region and first team all-district forward in her one year playing at Allen High before focusing on ECNL ball with the Dallas Sting. Was a multi-time all-conference player who was also named ECNL Player to Watch. Her Sting club is a two-time nationals contender and winner of the 2018 Dallas Girls International Cup. High school and club teammates with Cassie Taylor, another member of Tech’s signing class.
“Ashleigh is a big personality,” said Stone. “She is vivacious off the field and very aggressive on the field. She’s very powerful and has scored big-time goals. She’s uber competitive. She’s going to be a great addition to our team. She’s a great spirit and high intensity and is always excited to get after it. That’s something we need in this class going forward.”
Jaycee Willingham will come to Tech from Oklahoma. The defender played prep sports for just one year for Yukon High School, lettering in soccer and track, in which she qualified for states as a hurdler. After her first year, Willingham turned her attention to the club scene, where she joined and then captained Oklahoma Energy FC.
“She definitely fits our feisty style,” Stone said. “She is an absolute pleasure off the field, but as soon as she laces up her boots she’s a totally different human being. She’s not afraid of contact, very physical, fast and hates to lose. You’ll see that she’ll fit in very well on our back line.”