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Women's Recruiting Dec 11, 2019

Western Michigan University women’s soccer signs 8 to National Letters of Intent

KALAMAZOO, MIch. – The Western Michigan women’s soccer program and interim head coach Sammy Boateng have announced the signing of eight student-athletes to National Letters of Intent: Jenna Blackburn (Grand Blanc, Mich./Grand Blanc HS/Nationals DA), Lexi Nickole (South Hamilton, Mass./Pingree HS/ NEFC NS), Morgan Parker (Carmel, Ind./Carmel HS/FC Pride ECNL), Gracie Poulsen (Portage, Mich./Portage Northern HS/Midwest United Royal), Vanessa Scheel (Gull Lake, Mich./Gull Lake HS/Kingdom), Katie Schumacher (Chagrin Falls, Ohio/Chagrin Falls HS/Cleveland Force FC), Sydney Smith (Salem, Mich./Salem HS/Michigan Jaguars), and Kayla Whelchel (Redondo Beach, Calif./ West Torrance HS/LA Galaxy Development Academy).

The group of eight is made up of two forwards (Smith/Poulsen), two defenders (Nickole/Schumacher), two central midfielders (Parker/Whelchel), while Scheel can play midfield and defender and Blackburn can play in the midfield and up top as a forward.

“We are very excited about this group of young ladies coming in,” said Boateng. “They all have great personalities on and off the field and will add on to the competitive atmosphere in our program. Everyone in this class wants to be challenged and will compete for a spot on the field. We have a diverse group from around the country and this will enhance our program in many positive ways.”

Jenna Blackburn | F/MF | Grand Blanc, Mich. | Grand Blanc HS/Nationals Development Academy

Blackburn helped lead Grand Blanc High School to Division 1 District and Regional championships in 2017 and 2018, while also helping the team to the Division 1 State Finals those years. She helped lead the Michigan Gators to National Championships in 2015 and 2016, while leading Nationals Union to one in 2017. She is a four-time Michigan State Cup Champion, helping lead the Gators to three (2014, 2015, 2016) and the Nationals to one (2017). She helped the Nationals Development Academy reach the US Soccer Development Academy 2019 Championship Quarterfinals.

Boateng on Blackburn – “Jenna is a very technical and shifty player on the ball. Her movement off the ball and in front of goal makes her dangerous whether she’s playing up front or in the midfield. She has the ability to change the game at any moment.”

Lexi Nickole | D | South Hamilton, Mass. | Pingree HS/NEFC NS

Nickole has started every varsity game of her career at center back for Pingree High School, starting from her freshman year. Nickole helped lead her high school to four consecutive conference championships, while making it to the NEPSCA Playoffs all four years and winning it her freshman season. She helped lead her high school to an undefeated season until falling in the finals. With her club team, NEFC, she helped them win the state cup three consecutive years, resulting in berths to the nationals. This past summer, she won a national championship on PKs with NEFC’s 2002 Elite Team.

Boateng on Nickole – “Lexi is a strong and smart defender. She wins a lot of tackles and puts herself in positions to intercept/disrupt play in the back. She’s comfortable on the ball when she plays out of the back. She has a drive and competitive edge that you don’t in many defenders.”

Morgan Parker | MF | Carmel, Ind. | Carmel HS/FC Pride ECNL

Parker helped lead Carmel High School to a state championship in 2018 and finished as a runner-up in 2019. She is on the 2019 High School All-American Watch List and has been named First Team All-District this season. With her club team, FC Pride, she helped her team to a 2016-17 National League championship, helping outscore their opponents by 31 goals during the season. Parker consistently played up an age group while with FC Pride. Recently she helped her team to a fourth place finish at Nationals in the ECNL top tier.

Boateng on Parker – “Morgan is a very intellectual center midfielder that will help us control the game. She is composed on the ball and makes the right decisions at the right time. Her technical ability on the ball with both feet makes her a dangerous player in the middle of the field.”

Gracie Poulsen | F | Portage, Mich. | Portage Northern HS/Midwest United Royal

Paulson has started at Portage Northern since her freshman year, when she was a lone freshman starting with 10 seniors. She was named a captain during her sophomore season but missed it due to injury. She captained her team again during her junior season and finished second in the conference in scoring. Poulsen was named to the all-conference, all-district, all-region and all-state teams that year. Poulsen will again captain her high school for her senior season, which has yet to be played. With her club team she led them in scoring during the 2017 and 2018 seasons and helped lead the team to the state cup final in 2018.

Boateng on Poulsen – “Gracie is a strong and savvy forward that has the ability to finish in front of goal with both feet. She has a nose for scoring goals and also can be very instrumental in helping set up goals with her vision on the ball.”

Vanessa Scheel | MF/D | Gull Lake, Mich. | Gull Lake HS/Kingdom

School is a two-time All-SMAC selection, a two-time all-district selection and has twice been named to the Battle Creek Enquirer All-Area team while at Gull Lake High School. She was also a part of the state runner up team in 2018. With her club team, Kingdom, she won the state cup in 2019 and was a semifinalist in both 2017 and 2018.

Boateng on Scheel – “Vanessa is a technical player that can play in multiple positions. She is very intelligent and versatile as she will be able to help influence the team in a positive manner. She understands the game and can execute at a high level.”

Katie Schumacher | D | Chargrin Falls, Ohio | Chagrin Falls HS/Cleveland Force FC

Schumacher was a First Team All-State selection in 2019 for Chagrin Falls High School. She was named the Division II Greater Cleveland Player of the Year. Schumacher’s tremendous 2019 also saw her earn the NewsHerald Player of the year, the Chargrin Valley Conference Most Valuable Player award and earn all-region honors. She was a four-years starter as a center back at Chagrin Falls and made the state final four in both 2016 and 2019.

Boateng on Schumacher – “Katie is an exciting player on the field. She is able to play as a center back but also as an outside back that gets up the field. She has a very good soccer brain and can technically produce some very good things. She is able to change the game with her athletic ability on and off the ball.”

Sydney Smith | F | Salem, Mich. | Salem HS/Michigan Jaguars

Smith is a three-time all-district, all-conference and all-region honoree, with her senior year to still be played in the spring. She was all-state honorable mention during her sophomore season and all-state last season. Smith has been the leading scorer in each of her three seasons at Salem High School. With her club team she made the state cup in 2017 and won it in 2018. She has helped her club team move up divisions twice.

Boateng on Smith – “Syd is a very powerful forward that loves to dribble at defenders. She has the ability to drive end line and serve some really dangerous balls into the box. She also has the confidence to finish in front of goal. She has a great engine and can get up and down the field.”

Kayla Whelchel | MF | Redondo Beach, Calif. | West Torrance HS/LA Galaxy Development Academy

Earned varsity letters in soccer and cross country at West Torrance High School. Played for Beach FC for two seasons, winning the California Regional League and helping the team earn a spot in the 2018 Developmental Academy Summer Playoffs. Helped her team to a US Soccer FarWest Regional Championship. Played two seasons with the LA Galaxy Developmental Academy, earning a spot in the 2019 DA Summer Playoffs and currently plays with the U18/19 age group.

Boateng on Whelchel – “Kayla is a very intelligent midfielder with great vision to pick out teammates in dangerous positions. She has the grit to get stuck in tackles and the elegance to play out of tight situations. She has the technical and tactical awareness to be very effective in the middle of the field.”