COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Ohio State women's soccer team has added 12 standout student-athletes to its 2017 recruiting class, head coach Lori Walker announced Monday.
"The Class of 2017 is special and is finally ready to wear scarlet and gray," Walker said. "This class is the culmination of deep connections over many long years. Each player has unique ties to our program, The Ohio State University and each other. Several coaches have contributed to the depth and breadth of this group and I can't wait to begin to work with them this summer. Overall, this is a group of players that loves to attack in a variety of different ways. These players bring a rich skillset and high soccer IQ thanks to outstanding club environments and youth coaches. We return a very strong spine and a deep defensive core. These young players will have great leadership and a returning team that will show them the ropes. We have high expectations for several 2017's to contribute immediately."
Three players come to Columbus from New York (Marissa Birzon, Riley Bowers and Maddy Lowe) and Michigan (Lexxe Lipsey, Izzy Rodriguez and Maggie Samanich) while one will be coming to Ohio State from Connecticut (Taylor Lisevick), Illinois (Gretchen Murray), New Hampshire (Bailey Kolinski), North Carolina (Courtney Walker), Ohio (Grace Poncsak) and Pennsylvania (Marisa Johnson).
More on the dozen set to join the Buckeyes in 2017:
Marissa Birzon - Forward - East Amherst, N.Y.
Western New York Flash Academy; Williamsville East High School
Birzon has six years of club experience, including the last two with Western New York Flash Academy, under the direction of Daniel Clitnovici, Aaran Lines and Rob Ferguson ... helped lead the Flash to a state and Region 1 championship in 2016 ... lettered all four years at Williamsville East High School ... three-time team captain ... three-time All-WNY and two-time WNY Player of the Year ... named first team All-ECIC all four seasons ... three-time all-region selection and an All-American and named New York Class A Co-Player of the Year in 2016 ... also lettered two years in softball ... enjoys going to concerts, traveling, going to the gym and spending time with family and friends ... secretary of Stand Up Stand Out, a group to create awareness to help prevent bullying ... daughter of Keith and Dawn Birzon ... has three brothers: Eric, Justin and Dylan.
Coach Lori Walker: "Marissa was a late addition to this class and we couldn't be more excited for her to join our attacking scheme as she can play anywhere in the front four. She is as strong back-to-goal as she is crisp with her passing and possession. She can run behind as well as destroy a defense with her creativity off the dribble. Marissa plays with a fiery competitive attitude and passion that are contagious. She strikes the ball with power and yet has the composure to finish a simple open shot. Marissa will excel in the combative framework of the Big Ten."
Riley Bowers - Midfielder - Clarence Center, N.Y.
Western New York Flash Academy; Clarence Senior High School
Bowers has six years of club experience, also spending the last two guided by Aaran Lines and Rob Ferguson with the Western New York Flash Academy ... NSCAA Youth Soccer All-East Region in 2016 and a TeamSnap New York State All-Star in 2015 and 2016 ... member of the ODP Region 1 pool since 2012 ... a four-year starter at Clarence Senior High School ... three-time All-WNY and a three-time Section VI Erie County first team all-star ... enjoys anything fitness-related and spending time with family, friends and her dog ... National Honor Society member in 2015 and 2016 ... daughter of Daniel and Mollie Bowers.
Coach Lori Walker: "Riley has been a Buckeye in her heart for a really long time. She first approached me in the eighth grade declaring her desire to join our program. Being a part of her development over the last four years has been an honor. She has a passion for life and for soccer that is contagious. She is versatile and can play in wide areas as well as any position in the midfield. Her passing acuity and possession are points of pride and will blend immediately with our returning players. Riley has a unique ability to dictate the pace of a game as she can bring calm amidst chaos. Riley has a strong track record of achievement in the classroom as well. She attacks assignments, sets high goals and explodes forward with a `can-do' attitude."
Marisa Johnson - Forward - Bethel Park, Pa.
Pittsburgh Riverhounds; Bethel Park High School
Johnson has been playing club soccer for eight years, including the last two for coach Scott Gibson with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds ... Johnson helped lead the Riverhounds to the Disney Girls Soccer Showcase and CASL Girls Soccer Showcase championships in 2016 after a runner-up campaign in the Pennsylvania West State Cup in 2015 with Victory Express ... started all four years at Bethel Park High School, garnering all-section honors after leading the team in scoring in 2016 ... also ran track two years ... enjoys fishing, being with family and friends, drawing and going to concerts ... a Principal Advisory Council member at Bethel Park ... daughter of Mark and Kathy Johnson ... has a younger sister, Natalie ... father played golf at Youngstown State while mother played volleyball at Clarion.
Coach Lori Walker: "Marisa was an unexpected find from one of our Elite ID clinics several winters ago. Marisa showed up at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center and, for three-straight hours, she just scored goals. We are excited to train Marisa and sharpen her natural abilities to create a deeper understanding of off-the-ball movements and dynamic ways to exploit the opposition's defense. Marisa has a huge engine and loves to run. Her natural gifts will quickly blossom when surrounded by the other talented attacking personalities of this class. Marisa will add great depth to our flank positions."
Bailey Kolinski - Goalkeeper - Derry, N.H.
ECNL FC Stars; Brewster Academy
Kolinski has 12 years of club experience, spending the last two with ECNL FC Stars under the direction of Jason Dewhurst ... Kolinski also lettered four years at Brewster Academy ... after tying the school shutout record in 2015, Kolinski broke the record as a team captain in 2016 ... also lettered one year in basketball ... enjoys knitting, spending time with friends and family, playing pickup basketball and baking ... daughter of Mike and Beth Kolinski ... has two younger siblings, Reagan and Mason.
Coach Lori Walker: "Bailey hails from the East Coast juggernaut FC Stars. She has received top-notch training and has developed both the technical skills and intellectual understanding of the game to excel in the college environment. She has strong fundamentals and a commanding presence behind her back four. Bailey will compete immediately with Devon Kerr and create an important dynamic to push both to be their best."
Lexxe Lipsey - Forward - Southfield, Mich.
Michigan Hawks; Wylie E. Groves High School
Lipsey has been playing club soccer for the last eight years, including the last six for Doug Landefeld with the Michigan Hawks ... helped lead the Hawks to an ECNL national championship and a Michigan State Cup championship in 2016 ... also lettered three years in track at Wylie E. Groves High School, captaining the team in 2016 ... enjoys reading, volunteering and spending time with friends and family ... a National Honor Society member and one of three representatives at her school for the Generation of Promise, a leadership program that promotes diversity and acceptance ... daughter of Isaiah and Dian Lipsey ... has two younger siblings, Maciah and Isaiah ... father played football and baseball at Grand Valley State and is a member of its athletics hall of fame.
Coach Lori Walker: "Lexxe has raw speed balanced with a delicate touch of the ball at her feet. She is extremely dynamic in wide areas as a 7/11, running at defenders at full pace. She is as comfortable going to goal as she is exploiting the endline to get behind the defense. Lexxe can strike with both feet from distance and has calm finesse when close to goal. Lexxe has tremendous discipline to balance her athletic and academic success. She is currently one of the top students in her high school class."
Taylor Lisevick - Midfielder/Defender - Avon, Conn.
Connecticut FC; Avon High School
Lisevick has four years of club experience for Todd Plourde of ECNL side Connecticut FC ... Lisevick has started all four years as a midfielder and is a 2016 ECNL Northeast PDP participant ... Lisevick also started four seasons at Avon High School, captaining the team in 2016 and leading the team in scoring twice ... enjoys playing golf with her grandpa and going to the beach ... four-year member of the Connecticut Central Conference academic team ... daughter of Martin and Donna Lisevick ... has an older sister, Alexa, and a younger sister, Natasha ... mother played soccer at Connecticut and Hartford and coached at Providence and Yale.
Coach Lori Walker: "Taylor is a strong, intelligent, two-footed midfielder who will add to our depth in the 6/8 roles. Taylor is clean with the ball at her feet and has excellent vision of the entire field. Taylor is able to balance a hard tackle and defensive mentality with the willingness to be creative and support the attack. When on the ball, Taylor has an extremely dangerous free kick. I have known Taylor's parents for over two decades so it is an honor to welcome them all into the Buckeye family."
Maddy Lowe - Midfielder - Webster, N.Y.
Western New York Flash Academy; Webster Schroeder High School
Lowe has six years of club experience, playing the last two with Western New York Flash Academy for Rob Ferguson ... also played three years for Jordan Raper at Match Fit Academy and was a northeast region ID2 training camp member in 2015 and 2016 ... a three-year letterwinner at Webster Schroeder High School, garnering All-Monroe County honors all three seasons before earning Monroe County Division II Player of the Year honors in 2016 ... All-Greater Rochester Player of the Year in 2016 and a three-time All-Greater Rochester pick ... NSCAA first team All-Region selection in 2016 ... enjoys swimming, hanging out with friends and working out ... daughter of John and Patty Lowe ... has an older brother, Mark, and an older sister, Allison.
Coach Lori Walker: "Maddy is an explosive athlete who is strong in the air yet plays with crafty, delicate feet. She has the ability to stretch an opponent's defense with both her physical speed and her passing precision. She has versatility to play anywhere centrally within our team. Maddy has a tough, competitive mentality that naturally shines in training and games. She has demonstrated a unique ability to excel facing the goal with a knack for powerful distance shooting. She also excels at holding off defenders to build the attack with a back-to-goal skillset. Maddy will quickly adapt to the physical nature of college soccer. She has been committed to our Buckeye family for her entire high school experience along with former club teammate, Riley Bowers. Maddy will have an immediate impact on our team and the conference."
Gretchen Murray - Defender - Rockford, Ill.
Naperville Soccer Association; Boylan Catholic High School
Murray has played club soccer for five years, the last three for Bonnie Young with Naperville Soccer Association ... a team captain in 2016, Murray was named to the ODP state team in 2013, 2014 and 2015 ... helped lead NSA to the Disney Showcase championship ... enjoys traveling, hiking, biking and spending time with her dog ... a National Honor Society member ... daughter of Thomas and Tonya Murray ... has an older sister, Sarah.
Coach Lori Walker: "Gretchen hails from a long bloodline of Buckeyes and was very active in creating this opportunity within our program. She has really begun to blossom under the leadership of former Big Ten standout Bonnie Young, who now serves as Gretchen's club coach and trainer. Gretchen adds size to our central defensive positions as well as leadership and intelligence to organize our defense. Gretchen has a competitive mentality in the classroom and will graduate among the best in her class."
Grace Poncsak - Goalkeeper - Lewis Center, Ohio
Ohio Elite; Olentangy Liberty High School
Poncsak has six years of club experience, playing the last three seasons for Doug Bracken and Ohio Elite ... a member of PDP in 2016 ... a two-year member of ODP regional camp ... lettered one season at Olentangy Liberty High School ... enjoys going camping and hiking, traveling and going on mission trips ... a National Honor Society member who graduate Summa Cum Laude ... daughter of Andrew and Suzanne Poncsak ... has an older brother, Christian.
Coach Lori Walker: "Grace is a local Columbus goalkeeper that has traveled to Cincinnati to compete for Ohio Elite. She has worked significantly this last season to deepen her skillset, fitness base and strength so she can compete with the Devon Kerr and Bailey Kolinski. Grace will continue to grow and add depth to our group of goalkeepers."
Izzy Rodriguez - Midfielder - Canton, Mich.
Michigan Hawks and U.S. U-17 National Team; Salem High School
Rodriguez has eight years of club experience with the Michigan Hawks for coach Doug Landefeld and started to receive call-ups with the U.S. U-17 national team in 2014 ... played in all three matches at the 2016 CONCACAF U-17 Women's Championship in Granada, helping the U.S. to a regional title and a berth in the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup, where she played in a pair of the team's group stage matches ... has 14 U-17 caps to her name and was one of 30 players called into the 2017 U.S. U-19 national team camp in Sunrise, Fla. ... captain of the Michigan Hawks, helping the team to the 2016 U-17 ECNL national championship ... helped lead team that was Michigan State Cup champions in 2015 and state and regional champions in 2011 and 2012 also played basketball and ran track at Salem High School ... enjoys the Faster Horses Music Festival, beach vacations and shopping ... daughter of Robert and Audrey Rodriguez ... has an older brother, Tommy.
Coach Lori Walker: "Izzy is one of the most versatile players in this class. She has played the 2/3/6/8 positions in both club and with the USYNT programs. She has U-17 FIFA Women's World Cup experience from last fall in Jordan and is currently in Florida attending U-19 USYNT camp. Izzy is a hard competitor that plays with a smile and will have an immediate impact with our team. Her attitude and love for the game are contagious. Her passing range, high fitness level and understanding of soccer will mesh quickly and complement our returning player's squad. Izzy is equally gifted in the classroom and will continue the long standing tradition of equally talented and intelligent Ohio State women's soccer players."
Maggie Samanich - Defender - Brighton, Mich.
Michigan Hawks; Brighton High School
Samanich has eight years of club experience under the direction of Doug Landefeld with the Michigan Hawks ... helped guide the Hawks to the 2016 ECNL national championship ... a 2015 ECNL PDP invitee, Samanich also helped the Hawks to the 2013 State Cup and Region II championship ... also lettered in track two years, helping her Brighton High School team to a school record in the 4x200 and 4x400 relays ... enjoys, kayaking, swimming, hanging out with friends and family and traveling ... daughter of Rob and Judy Samanich ... has an older brother, Jack.
Coach Lori Walker: "Maggie has continued to impress me with her growth, determination and development. She can play anywhere in the backline. She has a massive engine and works at maximum effort with a smile. Maggie had some time away from the game last year after an injury which has made her stronger and more determined. She is a hard-nosed tackler that loves to get forward in wide supporting positions. The Michigan Hawks consistently develop outstanding defenders that have moved on to be very successful within our system. Maggie will join the ranks of former Hawks but current Buckeye Kylie Knight and former Hawk and All-America Buckeye captain Cassie Dickerson. Their emphasis on 1v1 defensive mentality and patience are well-embedded characteristics that lead to building a very successful collegiate foundation."
Courtney Walker - Forward - Waxhaw, N.C.
Carolina Rapids; Cuthbertson High School
Walker has played club soccer for the last six years, including the last two for the Carolina Rapids under the direction of head coach Nathan Williams ... invited to U-18 U.S. national team camp ... a 2016 National Championship Best 11 member, Walker helped the Rapids to the state and regional championships along with an appearance in the national semifinals ... helped the Rapids to a club national championship in 2015 ... lettered three years at Cuthbertson High School ... led the Cavaliers in scoring twice en route two all-state honors in 2015 and all-region and all-conference honors in 2014 and 2015 ... set the school single-season goals record in 2015 ... enjoys listening to music and watching Netflix ... daughter of Edmund and Kara Walker ... has two older sisters, Tiffany and Brandi, and a younger sister, Stephanie ... mother played soccer at Cincinnati while father played soccer at Xavier ... sister, Brandi, plays soccer at North Florida.
Coach Lori Walker: "Courtney has excellent timing running at a backline. She finishes in ways that look simple. Courtney grew up playing 3v3 and futsal so her strong techniques on the ball are both clean and crafty. She can play anywhere across the front line and will add diversity to the ways we can attack an opponent's backline. Courtney finds seams in opponents' defense and has great timing to meet the end of crosses to finish chances and wreak havoc for opposing goalkeepers."