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Women's Recruiting Aug 06, 2019

UMass Lowell women’s soccer unveils 9-player recruiting class

LOWELL, Mass. – UMass Lowell Women’s Soccer head coach, Mira Novak, announced this afternoon the addition of nine incoming recruits for the 2019 season.

“I feel we have the right mix of local talent and international players,” stated Novak. “What I’m most excited about is the character of the student-athletes we are bringing in. I think they will fit right into our culture here at UMass Lowell, as they display many characteristics we look for.”

Joining the River Hawks this fall will be Mitra Asdigha (Shrewsbury, Mass.), Taylor Burgess (Mendon, Mass.), Cristina Blaya San Pedro (Madrid, Spain), Anna Edson (Beverly, Mass.), Hildur Gunnarsdottir (Reykjavik, Iceland), Stephanie Kemp (Mansfield, Mass.), Allison LeBlanc (Saugus, Mass.), Gabrielle Wielding (Hopkinton, Mass.), and graduate student, Annerens Tijm (Tjerkgaast, Netherlands).

“I cannot wait to start working with them and see their growth on and off the field during their time here,” exclaimed Novak. “Credit goes to all staff who identified and recruited these student-athletes.”


Name: Mitra Asdigha
Hometown/High School: Shrewsbury, Mass. /Worcester Academy
Position: Defender    
Height: 5’4
Club Team: Scorpions ECNL
Major/Minor: Biology

High School/Previous School: Four-year varsity team member at Worcester Academy … In her senior year, was awarded Captain of the Year … Silver Bowl recipient for an undefeated regular soccer season during her sophomore year … Varisty basketball team member in her sophomore and freshman year… Named to the Headmaster’s list from 2016-2018 … Was a Worcester Academy Student Ambassador during her sophomore, junior, and senior year.

Personal: Daughter of Mehran Nesari and Mehran Asdigha of Shrewsbury, Mass. … Has one sister, Nilou who currently plays on the Troy University Women’s Soccer team … Enjoys going to the beach, watching sports, and sneaker shopping… Lists Friends and The Flash as her favorite TV shows … Names Manchester United as her favorite sports team … Names James Harden as her favorite athlete … Hopes to attend medical school in the future.

Why UMass Lowell: “Ever since I stepped onto campus I’ve been so excited to begin my journey here. The team chemistry and atmosphere seemed to fit my personality the best.”

Novak on Asdigha: “Mitra is a natural left-footer who can play in midfield or wide. She is a fantastic student and represents what we look for in a student-athlete here at UMass Lowell.”

Name: Taylor Burgess
Hometown/High School: Mendon, Mass. / Millis High School
Position: Goalkeeper
Height: 5’5
Club Team: NEFC DA
Major/Minor: Psychology

High School/Previous School: Played club soccer for NEFC DA … In her senior year, was #1 in the DA Northeast Region U19 … During her junior year, was a semi-finalist in the U19 DA National Finals …  2016 semi-finalist in the U16 ECNL National Finals … NPL National Champions during her freshman year … Made the Honor Roll during her sophomore and senior year.

Personal: Daughter of Tara and Eric Burgess of Mendon, Mass. … Has one sibling, Colin … Enjoys binge watching Netflix shows, especially The Office … Names the Boston Bruins as her favorite sports team … Names Tom Brady as her favorite athlete.

Why UMass Lowell: “The university is both academically and athletically a great fit for me! The environment and people on campus are what drew me to come here.”

Novak on Burgess: “Taylor is a high-level local prospect, who I am excited about to be joining our squad for many years to come. She is technically sound and will push the other goalkeepers in their daily training environment while competing for a spot.”

Name: Cristina Blaya San Pedro
Hometown/High School: Madrid, Spain / IES Ortega y Gasset
Position: Midfielder
Height: 5’3
Club Team: CD Tacon
Major/Minor: Undeclared

High School/Previous School: Played for two leagues, 3° of Madrid and CD Tacon … Season 2017-18 captain … Paris World Games Champion … Disney Cup winner.

Personal: Daughter of Pilar San Pedro Orozco and Fernando Blaya San Pedro. … Has one sibling, Alonso … Enjoys reading, skiing and hanging out with friends … Lists The Good Wife as her favorite TV show … Names Atlético de Madrid and the Warriors as her favorite sports teams … List Andrés Iniesta, Xavi Hernández, Diego Costa, Curry and Rafael Nadal as her favorite athletes.

Why UMass Lowell: “It’s the perfect university for me! It has a high level in both academics and athletics.”

Novak on Blaya: “I know Cristina will fit very well in this current group from a cultural as well as athletic perspective. She is a technical midfielder, fighter and winner. I feel she will be a great addition in spreading those characteristics mentality across the group.”

Name: Anna Edson
Hometown/High School: Beverly, Mass. /Beverly High School
Position: Midfielder                          
Height: 5’7
Club Team: NEFC North Shore
Major/Minor: Biology

High School/Previous School: Four-year varsity team member at Beverly High School … senior captain and MVP… In her senior year, was the Salem News All-Star, 2018 Eastern Mass DII All-Star … North East Conference All-Star … First Team All-State … Played club soccer for NEFC North Shore and was the 2019 State Cup Champions  … 2016 US Club Soccer U14 Super Group National Champions in Aurora, Colorado … Northshore Chamber of Commerce Scholar ranked in the top five percent of her graduating class … Member of the National Honor Society.

Personal: Daughter of Julianne and David Edson of Beverly, Mass. … Has one sibling, Paul … Her mother was a gymnast at the University of Bridgeport and Texas Women’s University… Enjoys going on bike rides, taking trips to Boston and spending time at the beach … Names the US Women’s National Team, Boston Bruins and Portland Thorns FC as her favorite sports teams … List Lindsey Horan and Kerri Strug as her favorite athletes … Enjoys watching Grey’s Anatomy … Hopes to earn her master’s degree at UMass Lowell and a PhD in the science field.

Why UMass Lowell: “I immediately recognized the inclusive and supportive atmosphere in regard to the soccer program and the university as a whole. I believe that the school will be a great place for me to grow as a person and will allow me to continue my soccer career in a program that is on the rise. I am excited to pursue a major in biology at a school with a strong science department.”

Novak on Edson: “Anna is someone who will push our returning players right away. She can contribute in a number of positions and has great tools that will make her successful during her four years on campus. I know she will fit into the group and our culture on the field as well as in the classroom.”

Name: Hildur Gunnarsdottir
Hometown/High School: Reykjavik, Iceland /Borgarholtsskoli School
Position: Forward      
Height: 5’7
Club Team: Haukar
Major/Minor: Psychology

High School/Previous School: 2X Icelandic Cup Champions … Scored 18 goals in nine games during her 2017 season … played in one game for the U19 National Team during her 2016 season.

Personal: Daughter of Gudrun Silja Steinarsdottir and Gunnar Karl Gislason of Graenahlid and Storagerdi, Iceland. … Has six siblings, Júlíana, Eva, Matthildur, Mikael, Salka, and Indriði … Her father is a Michelin star chef having worked in both New York and Reykjavik … Enjoys traveling and spending time with friends and family … Names FC Barcelona as her favorite sports team … Lists Lionel Messi as her favorite athlete … Enjoys watching The Blacklist … Hopes to earn her master’s degree in psychology while continuing to play soccer.

Why UMass Lowell: “UMass Lowell has all the things I am looking for in a school. They have an exceptional soccer team and I’ve heard a lot of good things about the school academically. It helps that it’s an easy trip from Iceland to Boston as well!

Novak on Gunnarsdottir: “I am excited about Hildur for a number of reasons. She is someone who can link up well with our midfield from a striker position and I look forward to integrating her in the team. I hope she can become a scoring threat in this conference!”

Name: Stephanie Kemp
Hometown/High School: Mansfield, Mass. / Mansfield High School
Position: Forward      
Height: 5’9
Club Team: NEFC NPL
Major/Minor: Business

High School/Previous School: Three-year varsity team member at Mansfield High School … Senior captain … 3X Hockomock League All-Star … Named Eastern Mass All-Star for three consecutive years … member of the National Honor Society and Spanish National Honor Society.

Personal: Daughter of Kelly and Kevin Kemp of Mansfield, Mass. … Has two siblings, Rebecca and Jennifer … Enjoys swimming in her free time … Names the US Women’s National Team and New England Patriots as her favorite sports teams … Enjoys watching Friday Night Lights … List Megan Rapinoe as her favorite athlete.

Why UMass Lowell: “After training with the coaches and team, I felt it was the perfect match. Academically I have many options and can’t wait to see what’s in store.”

Novak on Kemp: “Steph is another striker who will challenge for a spot right away. Her potential is very high, and she has a nose for goals. She is one of many strong student-athletes in this class, and I am beyond excited to start working with her.”

Name: Allison LeBlanc
Hometown/High School: Saugus, Mass. / Saugus High School
Position: Defender/ Midfielder        
Height: 5’8
Club Team: NEFC North Shore
Major/Minor: Biotechnology

High School/Previous School: Four-year varsity team member at Saugus High School … Senior captain and team MVP … 2X North East Conference champions… North East Conference MVP … North East Conference All-Star … First Team All-State… First Team All-Conference … Boston Herald All-Scholastic All-Star … Eastern Mass All-Star … Ranked fourth in her graduating class … member of the National Honor Society.

Personal: Daughter of Pamela and Mark LeBlanc of Saugus, Mass. … Has one sibling, Matthew … her mother played soccer at Salem State … Enjoys coaching youth soccer teams and going to the beach … Names the US Women’s National Team and Red Sox as her favorite sports teams … List Carly Lloyd and Tobin Heath as her favorite athletes … Hopes to earn her master’s degree and PhD in biotechnology.

Why UMass Lowell: “I saw UMass Lowell as a place with an accredited education system where I could see myself earning a degree, as well as play soccer. The students and players I met during my visit were ones that I could see myself surrounded by on daily basis and make my time at UMass Lowell memorable.”

Novak on LeBlanc: “She is not only a fantastic student off the field, but she is also a technically sound player who can use both feet comfortably. She fits our playing style very well and has put in so much work to be able to come in and compete right away. I am excited for her to fit right in.”

Name: Gabrielle Weilding
Hometown/High School: Hopkinton, Mass. / Hopkinton High School
Position: Forward
Height: 5’7
Club Team: NEFC NPL
Major/Minor: Exercise Science

High School/Previous School: Tri Valley League Soccer All-Star … Varsity captain at Hopkinton High School … Led her team to the 2018 Massachusetts Girls Soccer South Sectional Champions and Massachusetts Girls Soccer State Championship Finalist (1st time in school history) … 2017-19 Massachusetts Club Soccer State Championship Finalist … Named NEFC Captain her junior year … Hopkinton High School Track & Field State and All-State Qualifier all four years … Freshman year was awarded varsity Track & Field Rookie of the Year … Awarded varsity letter for three seasons, all four years.

Personal: Daughter of Michelle and Keith Weilding of Hopkinton, Mass. … Has one sibling, Ian … Enjoys volunteer work … Names the US Women’s National Team, Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics as her favorite sports teams … List Alex Morgan and Serena Williams as her favorite athletes … Hopes to go to graduate school and work in sports medicine/physical therapy.

Why UMass Lowell: “I love the campus and the team. The university has my competitive major and is close to my family and friends.”

Novak on Weilding: “Gaby is a strong wide forward who can play on both sides of the field and beat defenders in 1v1 situations. She will increase competition for spots in wide areas and I hope she can contribute right away.”

Name: Annerens Tijm
Hometown/High School: Tjerkgaast, Netherlands/ CSG Bogerman
Position: Goalkeeper
Height: 5’2
Club Team: Achilles ’29, sc Heerenveen, PSV
Major/Minor: Master’s in Peace and Conflict Studies

High School/Previous School: Played in the Eredivisie league, the single highest Dutch women’s soccer league, for PSV Eindhoven.

Personal: Daughter of Setske de Jong-Tijm and Jan Tijm of Tjerkgaast, Netherlands … Has two siblings, Cor-wisse and Frits … Enjoys reading, watching movies and spending time with friends … Names the Dutch Women’s National Team and AFC Ajax as her favorite sports teams … Names Edwin van der Sar as her favorite athlete.

Why UMass Lowell: “Coach Mira played a big influence on why I chose UMass Lowell. We got in touch two years ago and I got to know him as a passionate coach that I can rely on. The team did great job reaching the finals last season, and I hope I can contribute to push the team even further this season.”

Novak on Tijm: “Annerens is a graduate student, who will help us increase the competition in goal. Having played at a high level, I am sure she will be able to share her experience within the goalkeeping group and will push all of them to better themselves.”