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Women's Recruiting Jul 31, 2023

Vanderbilt brings in six talented recruits, compiling a top 10 signing class

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Vanderbilt soccer team will welcome six new faces in the incoming class this fall, including three midfielders and three forwards.

The highly-touted class, ranked in the top 10 nationally by Top Drawer Soccer, consists of Nyela Calnek, Ella Eggleston, Melania Fullerton, Courtney Jones, Giavana Liberto and Sydney Watts.

Vanderbilt 2023 Signing Class

Nyela Calnek


Under the coaching of Julian Slotty, Calnek is a three-time Florida High School Athletic Association state soccer championship finalist in addition to an FHSAA 400 meter state finalist. Calnek was also a part of an Elite Clubs National League Final Four, Olympic Development Program National Team and was named to the US Youth Soccer Nationals Best XI.

“Nyela stood out early in the process to us within the ODP system on both the regional team and national team programs,” said associate head coach Ken Masuhr. “She has outstanding pace, a knack for finding the back of the net and we are excited for her to compete for a role across our front line.”

Ella Eggleston


Eggleston, a forward from Texas, arrives at Vanderbilt with an extensive résumé. She was named to the 2021-22 ECNL Texas All-Conference first team and selected United Soccer Coaches Youth Girls All-South Region in 2019. The incoming freshman was awarded the 2018-19 Academic Excellence Award in Algebra from her high school, St. Stephens Episcopal. Eggleston is a 2017 USYS state champion and MVP, and 2017 USYS Region III champion and MVP. She is a three-time participant at the US Soccer training regional combine as well as a member of the Olympic Development Program regional team and state team.

“Ella has competed for championships her entire club career with Solar Soccer Club, and has the drive and competitiveness we value in our program,” said Masuhr. “She has appeared for the US youth national team internationally and has experience playing in big matches. Ella is a relentless attacking player who can expose defenders with pace and power or technical skill and composed finishing. She can play in any of the attacking roles within the team.”

Melania Fullerton


Fullerton, a midfielder from Texas, was the youngest player to play in the U17 Concacaf Championship in 2016 and was a silver medalist in the 2018 U15 Concacaf Championship. Under Kelly Thompson, Fullerton was named to the all-state team while also competing in the World Cup Qualifying Tournament for Grenada and leading her team to a ECNL semifinal appearance in 2022.

“Melania has appeared for Grenada and the U.S. on the international stage on many occasions, we expect her to draw on that experience to round out a midfield core that graduated All-SEC performer Reagan Kelly,” said Masuhr. “Melania is a tireless worker, is willing to leave her feet in tackles, and has an advanced soccer IQ which will allow her to compete for minutes early in her career.”

Courtney Jones


Listed as a top-five recruit out of Florida, Jones arrived at Vanderbilt after earning a spot on the 2021-22 ECNL Southeast all-conference team. Jones was a 2022 ECNL national training camp participant and received invites to the US Soccer training and US Soccer player development programs. She was a part of the Olympic Development Program state and regional teams and was an iD2 Selection.

“Courtney arrived on campus in January, which allowed her to have an important growth opportunity playing in matches in the spring and traveling with the team to Cape Town and London in May,” said Masuhr. “Courtney reads the game as well as an upperclassman and has the vision to play a last pass to put players onto goal. She played youth soccer for Hue Menzies, who has mentored some of the best NWSL players in the country, we are excited to bring her into the program!”

Out of Maryland, Liberto rounds out the midfielders after earning Howard Count/Baltimore Sun Player of the Year honors. Under coach Kuzdai Dzimiri, Liberto was selected ECNL North Atlantic first-team all-conference and holds multiple records including season and career goals in high school district play. Liberto has been named all-state, all-county and all-metro and throughout her high school career, in addition to participating in multiple US national training centers, US Club Soccer ID2 and received an ICC East Regional invite.

“Giavana has shown over her youth and high school careers that she is exceptionally capable of playing multiple positions and having a major impact,” said Masuhr. “Most recently she was the player of the year for her high school and led the area in goals. She is a tough, fearless player with tremendous leadership qualities. We are thrilled she is joining the group from a club like Bethesda with a rich, storied history.”

Sydney Watts


Watts, a forward from Kansas, was named back-to-back Gatorade Player of the Year in the state and is a two-time United States Soccer Coaches High School All-American. Under the coaching of Dan Brown, Watts is a three-time Kansas 5A state champion who broke the season goal (37) and point (87) records and earned back-to-back 5A forward of the year honors. Watts was called up to the Women’s US Youth national team camp three times and was named 2023 Female Athlete of the Year for her high school, Saint Thomas Aquinas, after playing basketball and soccer and being named to the KBCA All-Academic Team.

“Sydney was a prolific goal scorer for her youth programs and led her high school in all scoring categories to help it to back-to-back state titles,” said Masuhr. “Most recently she was called into the USYNT camp for the U20 roster. She is an effective back-to-goal player who can provide a target in the build but also can turn defenders and score goals. She is a diligent worker and a ruthless defender. We are looking forward to seeing what she can accomplish in a Vanderbilt uniform.”