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Women's Recruiting Nov 18, 2019

University of Cincinnati women’s soccer signs 9 players to NLIs

CINCINNATI – The University of Cincinnati women’s soccer program has signed nine individuals to National Letters of Intent, including four local standouts, head coach Neil Stafford announced.

The group, who will continue their educational and athletic careers at UC, will join the program in time for the 2020 season.

“We have group of student-athletes the University and city can be incredibly proud of,” Stafford said. “These women will represent everything our ‘Culture of Excellence’ stands for on and off the field and in the community. These women are top tier students who are heavily invested in their academics and want to make a significant impact and difference on and off campus.”

This year’s signing class includes four from the Cincinnati area, two from Dayton, and one each from Columbus, Lexington and Louisville. The local products include Kaitlyn Andrews (Loveland HS), Ellie Flower (Seton HS), Julia Simer (Ursuline Academy) and Ali Gessner (Ft. Thomas Highlands).

Both Lauren Bastian and Chloe Spitler come to UC after playing together at Centerville just outside of Dayton while Sydney McMillian will come from Delaware, Ohio, just outside Columbus. The final two players on the list hail from the Bluegrass State, and include Elizabeth Fortuna (Christian Academy of Louisville) from Louisville and Anna Rexford (West Jessamine) from just outside Lexington.

“When you look at this class as a whole, you can see we continue to add quality pieces to our overall puzzle,” Stafford said. “We have addressed both sides of the ball and feel that overall the mentality of this class is as strong as any we’ve had in the past.”

Similar to many of the Bearcats that come before them, this year’s signing class also features players adept to playing multiple positions as five are listed with more than one position, including Gessner at forward, midfield and defense. Rexford is the lone keeper in the group that features seven individuals listed as midfield players with five listed at forward as well.

“These players allow us to continue building on what we’ve accomplished this past season,” Stafford said. “The quality this incoming class have technically, tactically, physically and psychologically will bode very well with the experience our current players have had over the past 15 months. We had made our scheduling very challenging and I’m confident it will pay dividends moving forward. Unfortunately, we will have to wait some time to see but we are very excited about the next several seasons.”

When the newest class arrives on campus, it will not be the first time many of the newcomers have been teammates. In fact, four have teamed up at Cincinnati Development Academy (Andrews, Bastian, Flower and Gessner) while two each have played for Kentucky Fire Juniors (Fortuna and Rexford) and two for Ohio Elite (Simer and Spitler). Additionally, the duo of Bastian and Spitler were high school teammates as well.

Collectively, the class combined to win 15 Ohio State Cups, three Kentucky State Cups and three state high school championships while earning nine all-state selections. Additionally, many have played in national tournaments with their club sides, including 2018 Development Academy Nationals, the ECNL National Tournament and the USYS National League.


  • Kaitlyn Andrews • 5-8 • F/MF • Cincinnati, Ohio (Loveland HS) • Cincinnati Development Academy
  • Lauren Bastian • 5-6 • MF • Centerville, Ohio (Centerville HS) • Cincinnati Development Academy
  • Ellie Flower • 5-5 • F/MF • Cincinnati, Ohio (Seton HS) • Total Futbal Academy/Cincinnati DA
  • Elizabeth Fortuna • 5-11 • D/MF • Louisville, Ky. (Christian Academy of Louisville) • Kentucky Fire Juniors
  • Ali Gessner • 5-7 • F/MF/D • Ft. Thomas, Ky. (Highlands HS) • Cincinnati Development Academy
  • Sydney McMillin • 5-11 • F • Delaware, Ohio (Hayes HS) • Ohio Premier
  • Anna Rexford • 5-11 • GK • Wilmore, Ky. (West Jessamine HS) • Kentucky Fire Juniors
  • Julia Simer • 5-9 • MF • Cincinnati, Ohio (Ursuline Academy) • Ohio Elite
  • Chloe Spitler • 5-4 • F/MF • Centerville, Ohio (Centerville HS) • Ohio Elite


ANDEWS, Kaitlyn
5-8 • F/MF • Cincinnati, Ohio • Loveland HS / Cincinnati Development Academy

Currently in her senior year at Loveland High School (Cincinnati)… three-year varsity player for LHS, helping them to the state title in her sophomore season… two-time conference champions, three-time district champions and one-time regional champions… Second Team All-Ohio as a senior… two-time all-conference and all-city first-team selection… on a club level, has played for Cincinnati Development Academy and Cincinnati United Premier… with CUP, captured the 2017 state title and took runner-up honors at the National tournament… helped Pre-CDA to the state cup title in 2018 as well… also competed for the track & field team at LHS for three years… member of the National Honors Society and earned academic all-state accolades… comes from an athletic family as both her father, John, and mother, Kristin, competed for the track & field team at Kent State… her uncle Dan Andrews played football at Allegheny College and her grandfather Charles Andrews was a four-year member of the football team at the U.S. Naval Academy… plans to major in athletic training at UC.

5-6 • MF • Centerville, Ohio • Centerville HS / Cincinnati Development Academy

Currently in her senior year at Centerville High School (Centerville, Ohio)… played alongside fellow UC signee Chloe Spitler at CHS… played varsity soccer of the Elks the past two years (junior and senior)… both seasons, earned all-state honors along with Miami Valley All-Area First Team, Miami Valley South First Team and All-Greater Western Ohio Conference First Team… selected as her team’s MVP both seasons as well… team was 32-8-3 in her two seasons… on a club level, played for both Cincinnati Development Academy and Cincinnati United Premier Gold… helped her team win the State of Ohio title six years in a row… team reached the finals of the U.S. Soccer Regional and U.S. Soccer National Championships… won the U.S. Soccer National League in 2017… reached the Girls Development Academy National Playoffs in 2018… selected to the U.S. Youth Nationals Girls Best XI for U15-U20 (all one team)… member of the National Honor Society and the Spanish Honor Society… earned Academic All-State honors following her senior soccer season… will be the second member of her family on campus joining her older brother, Grant Willis… is undecided on her planned major at UC.

5-5 • F/MF • Cincinnati, Ohio • Seton HS / Total Futbol Academy/Cincinnati DA

Currently in her senior year at Seton High School (Cincinnati)… was a four-year member of the varsity soccer team and also ran track her freshman year… on the pitch, was a three-time all-conference selection while adding two all-city and one all-state accolade to her credit… led the league in goals and assists as a senior with 18 and 12, respectively… reached the regional semifinals as well… nominated for United Soccer Coaches All-America accolades in her senior season… on a club level, played for Total Futbol Academy before joining Cincinnati Development Academy recently… during her 10 years playing with TFA, her side won three State Cups, including the 2019 title; the past five regional crowns; captured the National League Championship twice (2018 and 2019); and competed in the National USYS Championship Tournament in 2018 and 2019, reaching the national semifinals in 2018… is a second generation Bearcat as both of her parents are alums of UC… is undecided in which major she will pursue.

FORTUNA, Elizabeth
5-11 • MF/D • Louisville, Ky. • Christian Academy of Louisville / Kentucky Fire Juniors

Currently in her senior year at Christian Academy of Louisville (Louisville, Ky.)… was a four-year varsity player for CAL… earned Honorable Mention All-Region as a freshman and sophomore before adding second team accolades as a junior and first team as a senior… earned Second Team All-Kentucky as a senior… team won district titles all four years… over the last two years, limited opponents to 15 goals total… on the club level, played for Kentucky Fire Juniors and Indiana Fire Juniors (ECNL)… helped her side to state titles in 2014, 2016 and 2017… won the Florida ESPN Disney Showcase… 2019 regional semifinalists… named to the 2019 Great Lakes Conference Best XI… joins her father, Gerald, as a collegiate soccer player after he played four years for the Air Force Academy… both her parents attended the Air Force Academy… is undecided on which major she will pursue at UC.


Elizabeth Fortuna
“I chose Cincinnati because I felt like I really belonged to this program and on this campus. The moment I visited for the first time, I could picture myself playing here and attending this school. It felt like my home. Not to mention the coaches and the amazing staff, I truly felt welcomed and loved and I could not wait to call myself a Bearcat.”

Neil Stafford (Head Coach, Cincinnati)
“What a fantastic athlete Elizabeth Fortuna is. She will provide a unique fit for how we want to play defensively but will also help us transitioning into our attack. Elizabeth has great pace and uses her body intelligently when physically dealing with the opposition. She is difficult to beat 1v1 and strong on the challenge. And as exciting as that sounds, Elizabeth will get even better in those areas once she gets into her routine with our strength and conditioning coaches. Elizabeth also possesses solid ball striking abilities which will allow us to play direct at times and be comfortable in pressing in the opponent’s half of the field. Elizabeth is an exceptional young woman with very high character and I’m really looking forward to working with her.”

Tim Nowak (Director, Kentucky Fire)
“Elizabeth is an exceptional athlete with outstanding speed and range both with and without the ball.  This will translate into the college game quite well and allow her lots of opportunity to make an immediate contribution. She’s an outstanding young woman and always has a positive influence in a team environment.”

5-7 • F/MF/D • Ft. Thomas, Ky. • Highlands HS / Cincinnati Development Academy

Currently in her senior year at Highlands High School (Ft. Thomas, Ky.)… played one year with HHS, leading the team in scoring (14 goals) and tied for the lead in assists (9) before being voted as her team’s Offensive Player of the Year as a freshman… helped the team to a spot in the regional final after winning the district crown… played club soccer the rest of her prep career, playing for Kings Hammer Academy Red before joining Cincinnati Development Academy in the summer of 2017… helped Kings Hammer to the regional finals in South Dakota before winning the national title… helped CDA advance to the national playoffs San Diego in 2018… is the second in her family to play collegiate soccer, joining her cousin, Taylor Tolle, who currently plays at Eastern Kentucky… plans to major in Business at UC.

McMILLIN, Sydney
5-11 • F • Delaware, Ohio • Hayes HS / Ohio Premier

Currently in her senior year at Hayes High School (Delaware, Ohio)… four-year letter winner on the varsity soccer team… named her team’s MVP all three years she was on the pitch (injured as a junior) and also was selected as her team’s Most Offensive Player as a senior… earned Ohio Capital Conference accolades three times, including second-team honors as a senior and honorable mention as a freshman and sophomore… on the club level, played four years for Ohio Premier… helped her club side to third place at the 2019 national tournament… back at HHS, she also competed on the track team and holds the record in the 200m dash and as a member of the 4x200m relay… four-times earned the Academic Achievement Award for maintaining a 3.70 GPA or better… selected to the National Honors Society as a junior as well… is the second in her family to play collegiate soccer, following her older sister Lauren who currently plays soccer for Ohio Wesleyan… also has an uncle that played football at Columbia… she plans to major in Sports Management with a concentration in Finance at Cincinnati.

5-11 • GK • Wilmore, Ky. • West Jessamine HS / Kentucky Fire Juniors

Currently is in her senior year at West Jessamine High School (Nicholasville, Ky.)… a four-year varsity player, she helped WJHS to state championships her first two years before the Colts reached the state Final Four her junior year and the state Sweet 16 her senior year… twice named the state tournament MVP… three-time all-state honoree, including first-team as a senior… added to the high school All-American watch list her senior year… on a club level, competed for several clubs in her career, including Kentucky Fire Juniors (Louisville), United (Louisville), Cincinnati Development Academy Premier (Cincinnati), Lexington FC (Lexington) and Storm SC (Jessamine County)… also was a three-year varsity basketball player… earned academic all-state accolades three times… is the second member of her family to compete in college after her mother (Tracy) played tennis for Asbury University… plans to major in Occupational Therapy at UC.

SIMER, Julia
5-9 • MF • Cincinnati, Ohio • Ursuline Academy / Ohio Elite

Currently in her senior year at Ursuline Academy (Cincinnati)… played varsity soccer her first two years of high school before injuries sidelined her… in those two years, led her team in scoring as a sophomore… that same year, earned Honorable Mention All-Ohio… also earned first-team all-conference… on a club level, played for Cincinnati United Premier (2009-17) before playing with Ohio Elite Soccer Academy (2018+)… with CUP, captured four state titles and added a trio of state finalist appearances… won the USYS National League title twice (2016, 2017)… reached the national semifinals in 2017 after reaching the finals in 2017… with Ohio Elite, captured the ECNL Final Four National Championship (2018)… in 2016, selected to attend the U.S. Soccer Training Center… in 2017, took part in the 2017 U.S. Soccer ODP Region II Identification Camp… is the second in her family to participate in collegiate athletics following her grandfather, Lawrence Taylor, who played football at Akron… plans to major in Health Sciences and pursue a career as a Physician Assistant.

5-4 • F/MF • Centerville, Ohio • Centerville HS / Ohio Elite

Currently in her senior year at Centerville High School (Centerville, Ohio)… played three years on the varsity team for the Elks, the last two with fellow UC signee Lauren Bastian… led the junior varsity team in scoring as a freshman and was named the team’s MVP… led the team in scoring in her first varsity season as the team took second in the district, the first of three-consecutive district runner-up finishes… named All-Ohio Second Team as a senior… two-time All-Miami Valley First Team… on the club level, played for Ohio Elite Soccer Academy… captured the 2017 conference title… reached the ECNL National Playoffs as well… plans to major in business at UC.