Northern Iowa women’s soccer announces 11-player signing class for 2021
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – The UNI soccer team has signed 11 student athletes, including 10 new freshmen, for the 2021 fall season.
“We are excited to add this group of 11 players to our program,” stated head coach Bruce Erickson. “With a class this size, it features players who we feel can step in and play right away and also those who will continue to develop and grow and help us down the road. As always, we look for players with high character with an incredible work ethic who have the passion to get better every day, this class embodies that.”
Caso was a spring addition to the Panther roster, playing in 11 games with 10 starts. Caso recorded 2 shots on goal with 6 total shot attempts in 718 minutes played. Caso is a transfer from the University of Rhode Island where she started in 13 of the teams 18 games. Caso led all freshmen with 7 shots on goal. Caso was a 3 time all-state honoree at Suffield Academy under head coach Dan Sullivan. Lilly is the daughter of Roy and Pamela Caso and has four siblings, Graeme (22), Ethan (21), Rose (17) and Grace (17).
“Lily made a significant contribution this spring after transferring from Rhode Island during the spring semester, ” stated Erickson. “We expect big things out of her this fall in our attack.”
Ott is a two time all-state and all-tournament team performer for head coach Lauren Greiner at Waverly Shell-Rock High School. Ott led the Go-Hawks to two runner-up finishes in the state tournament in 2018 and in 2019. Ott is a member of the National Honor Society and made the Waverly Shell-Rock honor roll every semester. Siriana is the daughter of Andy and Erikla Ott, she has 3 siblings, Simon (15), Addie (13) and Anaka (13).
“We are thrilled to have Siri at UNI,” stated Erickson. “She’s the type of player we like in midfield with her mobility and work rate. Fantastic potential to be an impact player immediately.”
Eastus is a two time all-conference selection for head coach Roney Cardoza at Gilroy High School. Eastus was named the Gilroy Freshman Athlete of the Year following the 2017-18 season. As a senior the standout midfielder scored 24 goals with 10 assists leading the Mustangs to a league championship and a state tournament berth. Maddilyn is the daughter of Mark and Jana Eastus, she has 1 sibling Tanner (18).
“Maddie will come in and complement the dynamic players we have in midfield and help raise the level in training while competing for a position in midfield,” stated Erickson.
Buntenback competed two seasons for head coach Michael Kaut at Southeast Polk High School, earning team MVC honors as a sophomore after recording 71 total saves in the net. Buntenbach was a three year member of the Southeast Polk Honor Roll. Kennedy is the daughter of Eddie and Rachel Buntenbach, she has one sibling Gavin (18).
“We are excited to add Kennedy to an already talented goalkeeper position group,” stated Erickson. “Sky is the limit for her and we look forward to continuing her developing.”
Barnette is a two time offensive player of the year for head coach Tony Peszneker at Wayzata High School. During the 2019 season Barnette scored 7 goals in an 18 game season. Barnette is a member of the National Honor Society. Morgan is the daughter of Toddrick and Gretchen Barnette, she has one sibling, Miles (16).
“Morgan is someone we identified as an attacking player who could cause problems for defenders with her combination of hold-up play and combining as well as running at defenders,” stated Erickson. “She’s healthy and ready to go.”
Celarek earned all-state recognition for coaches Jason Franco and Jeff Melone at James B. Conant High School. The coaches also voted Celarek as the team’s most valuable all-around player. She was a member of the honor roll all 4 years in high school and was a member of the national Honor Society. Maddie is the daughter of Jim and Ellen Celarak, she has 2 siblings, Katie (21) and Leah (24).
“Maddie has a chance to compete for a spot in midfield or outside back immediately,” stated Erickson. “She comes from a very good club and high school background and a work rate that is an obvious strength.”
Knoepfle is a 3 time all-state and 4 time all-conference performer for head coach Tracey Griess at Andover High School. A talented goal scorer, Knoepfle finished her career with 64 goals and 41 assists. Olivia is the daughter of Matt and Brandi Knoepfle, she has 2 siblings Conner (20) and Morgan (14).
“Liv is an attacking player who can change games,” stated Erickson. “Her competitive fire, in addition to her speed, will fit in nicely in our attack. She has the potential to be a very good goal scorer here.”
Nolan played one year for head coach Daniel DePaz at Libertyville High School, leading the Wildcats to a third place finish in the Illinois State Championship. Nolan has been a 4 year member of the Libertyville High School Honor Roll and is a member of the National honor Society. Payton is the daughter of Patrick and Kim Nolan and has 2 siblings, Kiley (19) and Gavin (16).
“Payton has a great pedigree coming from the Eclipse SC,” stated Erickson. “Her versatility may be one of her best qualities; she can play anywhere in midfield and either outside back position.”
Guevara was a 4 year letter winner for head coach Emily Mathews at Lincoln East High School. Guevara led the Spartans to a district Championship in both 2019 and 2021, moving the team to the Nebraska State Tournament semifinals both years. She was a 4 year member of the Honor Roll and is a member of the National Honor Society. Elizabeth is the daughter of Rigo and Amy Guevara, she has 1 sibling Mathew (21).
“Beth comes in rehabbing a knee injury but we are excited at the potential she has to be a very good college player,” stated Erickson.
Nyblom was a 4 time all-conference performer for head coach John Christiansen at Apple Valley High School. She was the leading scorer all 4 years in high school and led the team in assists her final 3 years. Nyblom is a 4 year member of the Apply Valley Honor Roll. Jenna is the daughter of John and Carla Christiansen and Kelly Nyblom. She has 2 siblings, Josie Nyblom (20) and Ryan Christiansen.
“Jenna is a versatile, athletic player who will continue to grow and develop as a quality college player,” stated Erickson.
Sanders was an all-conference performer for head coach Todd Boren at Shawnee Mission Northwest. Sanders led the Cougars to a 3rd place finish in the Kansa State Tournament in 2018. Lauren is the daughter of Jim and Renee Sanders, she has 3 siblings, Emily (22), Caroline (20), and Mary (13).
“We really like Lauren’s speed in the back,” stated Erickson. “She is only going to get better and is competitive in her 1v1 defending.”