FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Arkansas soccer team welcomed 10 of its newest members Wednesday morning as part of National Signing Day. The new players come from four different states in the United States, as well as Canada, and include a variety of position players to add depth to an already strong roster.
“We are excited to welcome the 2018 class to our program,” Arkansas head coach Colby Hale said. “There are numerous people who have helped bring this class together and we are grateful for them and their investment in our program. The 2018 class will be joining a great group of returning players in our pursuit this fall for championships. This class has character, athleticism, skill, IQ, competitiveness and a commitment to being great in all aspects of life. We can’t wait to get them to campus and help us in our pursuit of continued growth.”
Joining Arkansas are: Elizabeth Gousios (MF/Elgin, Ill.), Kaelee Van Gundy (F/MF-Matthews, N.C.), Bryana Hunter (D-Pflugerville, Texas), Madi McBurnett (D-Frisco, Texas), Maddie Ricketts (MF-Chattanooga, Tenn.), Jaia Riggan (F-Ontario, Canada), Libby Rumbelow (D-Grapevine, Texas), Tyler Runnels (MF-Coppell, Texas), Emily Russell (MF-Allen, Texas), and Abbey Saddler (GK-Chattanooga, Tenn.).
2018 Arkansas Soccer Recruiting Class
Player Name Pos. Hometown High School Club Team
Elizabeth Gousios MF Elgin, Ill. Burlington Central FC United
Kaelee Van Gundy F/MF Matthews, N.C. Weddington HS Carolina Rapids ECNL
Bryana Hunter D Pflugerville, Texas Hendrickson HS Lonestar FC
Madi McBurnett D Frisco, Texas Frisco Lone Star HS D'Feeters ECNL
Maddie Ricketts MF Chattanooga, Tenn. Chatanooga Area Homeschool Chattanooga FC
Jaia Riggan F Ontario, Canada Cameron Heights HS Burlington YSC
Libby Rumbelow D Grapevine, Texas Grapevine HS Dallas Sting
Tyler Runnels MF Coppell, Texas Coppell HS D'Feeters
Emily Russell MF Allen, Texas Allen HS D'Feeters
Abbey Saddler GK Chattanooga, Tenn. East Hamilton HS FC Alliance ECNL
Elizabeth Gousious | Midfielder | Elgin, Ill. | Burlington Central | FC United
BEFORE ARKANSAS: ‘00 Illinois Girls ODP State Team (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016) … Played with ‘00 Illinois Girls ODP State Team in 2016 Nationals … Was TopDrawer Soccer Top Player on first day of 2016 Nationals … 2016 ‘00 Girls ODP Region II Pool Player … Starting Player … 2016-17 Disney National League Showcase Champions … Has started on the varsity team since freshman year … Was voted a captain during her sophomore and junior seasons … All-Conference, All-Area, All-Regional Player and All-Sectional during her career … Scored 17 Goals and notched eight assists as a freshman … Upped that total to 31 goals and 14 assists and was the second-leading scorer in Fox Valley Area as a sophomore … Scored 10 times and added six assists for Burlington Central as a sophomore … Was part of team that finished third at the 2A state tournament … Was awarded Player of the Match in the third-place game.
FROM HER COACHES: “Elizabeth is a very versatile player who can play any position on the field because of her athleticism. Many people will probably remember her most for her speed and unique hair, but we will remember her most for scoring two of the more important goals to help us bring home our first ever state trophy during her junior year. We wish her all the best as she continues her career next fall as a Razorback.” – Burlington Central High School assistant coach Michael Gecan
“Goose is a versatile player and a true competitor. She can play almost anywhere on the field and can help her team on and off the ball in a multitude of ways.” – FC United coach Craig Snower
WHY SHE CHOSE ARKANSAS: “I became interested in Arkansas when I learned about the competitive nature and overall success as a team. My club coach knew I wanted to play for a top SEC team and had me go down to a camp and I fell in love with the campus and everything the university had to offer, especially in regards to furthering my education for pursuing a career in physical therapy. The coaching staff is beyond welcoming and I cannot wait to become a part of the family atmosphere that is Razorback soccer!” – Elizabeth Gousios
Kaelee Van Gundy | Forward/Midfielder | Matthews, N.C. | Weddington HS | Carolina Rapids ECNL
BEFORE ARKANSAS: Participated in ODP Regional III Camp in 2012 and 2013 … Also played in ODP sub-regional event in the same season … Scored 40 goals while also notching 27 assists (107 points) over the last three seasons for Weddington High School … Part of 2016 and 2017 3A North Carolina state championship team, winning 20 or more matches each year … Named an all-conference player in 2015, 2016, and 2017 … Also named to the All-Region team in 2016 … Recipient of the 2016 Weddington Warrior Award and 2015 Weddington Coach’s Award … Named 2012 Young Female Player of the year by the Greater Charlotte Soccer Gala.
FROM HER CLUB COACH: “Kaelee is without a doubt one of the hardest working players we have in our group at the Carolina Rapids. Her endless energy, willingness to want to win the ball back and her exceptional training habits are what will make her a wonderful addition to the University of Arkansas team. We all wish her the very best of luck as she moves on to the next level.” – Carolina Rapids Director of ECNL Nathan Williams
WHY SHE CHOSE ARKANSAS: “I chose the University of Arkansas because I felt like it was home. I grew up in Northwest Arkansas and have many memories of the area. The University of Arkansas is a great school, the soccer program is exciting, and I love the campus.” – Kaelee Van Gundy
Bryana Hunter | Defender | Pflugerville, Texas | Hendrickson HS | Lonestar SC
BEFORE ARKANSAS: Four-sport star at Hendrickson, playing soccer, volleyball, basketball and running track and field … Named Austin American Statesman All-Central Texas Player of the Year for the 2016-17 season … No. 3 player on the FAB 50 Top High School Athletes for 2016-17 … Named 13-6A All-District and All-Region First Team in 2017 … Named to State All-Tournament Team in 2017 … Scored game-winning goal in Class 6A semifinal of 2017 UIL soccer championships … Eventually led team to Class 6A state title … Named academic all-district in 2015, 2016, and 2017.
FROM HER COACHES: “Bre represents the best of the best and her best is yet to come.” – Hendrickson High School head coach Rennie Rebe
“Bryana Hunter is a ‘once in a lifetime’ athlete that I was fortunate to coach. An individual that has so much athleticism yet still has an unwavering work ethic, Bry was able to excel at a high level of competition in many sports other than just soccer. She’s a true gem.” – Hendrickson High School head girls’ basketball coach Norma Sierra
WHY SHE CHOSE ARKANSAS: “I picked Arkansas because I fell in love with the campus and they had the major I wanted to study. I also love the competitive aspect of the team towards each other and the coaches.” – Bryana Hunter
Madi McBurnett | Defender | Frisco, Texas | Frisco Lone Star HS | D’Feeters
BEFORE ARKANSAS: Named first team all-district in 2015, 2016, and 2017, while being named an honorable mention for the all-state team in 2016 … Named Team Defensive MVP after her sophomore and junior year … Named Team Newcomer of the Year in 2015 … Is the No. 34 ranked player in her region according to TopDrawerSoccer.com … Part of National Honor Society and named to the academic all-district team.
FROM HER COACHES: “Madison is the definition of hard work, grit, and athleticism. She is a smart and solid defender with natural leadership skills. I have had the privilege of watching her grow and mature as a person and player over the last six years and she continually impresses me. I am so excited to see what is in store for next. Arkansas is truly getting a gift. ” – Frisco Lone Star High School head coach Genny Black
“Madison is an extremely technical player. Her versatility and all around abilities are of the highest level. As a center back her 1v1 defending and distribution capabilities are elite. Her calm presence and leadership qualities make her an invaluable part of our team’s success.” – D’Feeters ECNL head coach Juan Martinez
WHY SHE CHOSE ARKANSAS: “I chose Arkansas because I wanted to play soccer at one of the highest levels with a great team. I also loved the school as a whole. It’s a great school, the campus is beautiful, and the people are great. The University of Arkansas is a great environment with a lot of amazing opportunities.” – Madi McBurnett
Maddie Ricketts | Midfielder | Chattanooga, Tenn. | Chattanooga Area Homeschool | Chattanooga FC
BEFORE ARKANSAS: Youngest goal scorer in the WPSL … Played on the boys’ team through U17 select … Invited to three national training sessions.
FROM HER COACH: “Maddie is an extremely hard-working player who pushes herself every single game to be the best player on the field. She is a player that possesses a high soccer IQ, high-energy, and high work rate that will push her to be successful at the next level. The fact that she is an outstanding individual will only add to the impact she will make at Arkansas.” – FC Alliance Knoxville head coach Chad Stocton
WHY SHE CHOSE ARKANSAS: “I absolutely loved the campus and atmosphere from the first time I visited. The players and coaches were extremely welcoming and friendly. I know I will be pushed and I’m excited to be on such a successful program.” – Maddie Ricketts
Jaia Riggan | Forward | Ontario, Canada | Cameron Heights HS | Burlington YSC
BEFORE ARKANSAS: Played for the Burlington Bayhawks from 2013-2018 … Helped Burlington reach Canadian National Finals in 2017 … Scored twice in the final against the London Youth Whitecaps to help Burlington claim the 2017 Ontario Cup championship … 2016 Quebec-Ontario Cup champions … Three-time Ontario Youth Soccer League champions … Finished with a combined record of 46-1-5 over the last three seasons.
FROM HER COACH: “Jaia is a driving, dynamic force who puts fear into the opposing defenders each and every game she plays. Her pace is electric and her soccer IQ is very high. Jaia plays on the edge and does not accept anything but winning.” – Burlington YSC coach Casey Downey
WHY SHE CHOSE ARKANSAS: “The reason I chose Arkansas was because I connected with the girls the first time I was introduced to them. The team was loving and welcoming with open arms along with the coaches. I wanted to go somewhere that could take my development to the next level. Arkansas is also in the best conference and I knew if I could get to the University of Arkansas, I could become an unstoppable Razorback.” – Jaia Riggan
Libby Rumbelow | Defender | Grapevine, Texas | Grapevine HS | Dallas Sting
BEFORE ARKANSAS: Scored nine goals and notched five assists over 12 matches as a junior for 23 points with Grapevine High School … Named first team all-district in 2016 and 2017, as well as academic all-district … Was part of district-winning Grapevine High team in 2015, 2016, and 2017 … 5A State Tournament Runner-Up in 2016 … Decided to focus on her club team as a senior and played under Stuart Hilton and Tatu for the Dallas Sting … Was part of 2015 North American Cup championship team.
FROM HER COACH: “Libby Rumbelow is a highly skilled two-way player who has shown the ability to both attack and defend from the midfield position. She demonstrates good speed, quickness, and advanced technical abilities whether playing attacking mid in the box or on the outside in the diamond. She is a dynamic player who is unafraid to take on her opponents and loves to compete. She will be a great addition to the Razorback family!” – Dallas Sting coach Tatu
WHY SHE CHOSE ARKANSAS: “I am so excited to get the opportunity to play soccer for Arkansas.I chose Arkansas because it allows me to play in a competitive environment and for an amazing coaching staff. My brother John graduated from Arkansas in 2016 and I look forward to following in his footsteps.” – Libby Rumbelow
Tyler Runnels | Midfielder | Coppell, Texas | Coppell HS | D’Feeters
BEFORE ARKANSAS: No. 17-ranked player in her region according to Top Drawer Soccer … Was a first-team 6A All-Region in 2016-17 … Earned first team 9-6A All-District honors in the same season … Also a first team 7-6A All-District midfielder in 2014-15 … Part of undefeated Coppell High School team that went undefeated in 2015 to win the 6A state soccer title.
FROM HER COACH: “Tyler is a dynamic player that can change a game at any moment. Her elite skill, athleticism, and game knowledge make her a difference maker and a nightmare matchup for opposing teams.” – D’Feeters coach Juan Martinez
WHY SHE CHOSE ARKANSAS: “Fayetteville is beautiful and Coach Hale and the rest of the coaching staff really made me feel at home and was a major factor in my decision. I really enjoyed meeting some of the other players, they genuinely care about each other. Along with the coaches and support staff, the facilities – both athletic and academic – spurred my decision.” – Tyler Runnels
Emily Russell | Midfielder | Allen, Texas | Allen HS | D’Feeters
BEFORE ARKANSAS: Currently has 14 goals and seven assists in 28 matches for Allen High School … Has been voted varsity captain for the last two seasons … Part of District 6A championship team as a junior and was named the forward of the year … Played with Sting ECNL 99’s at Phoenix ECNL National Event in 2013 … Was also recommended for the ID2 program as a seventh grader … Played with the Sting ECNL 2000 team at a 2014 event … Named Top Drawer Soccer’s Top 25 Texas Division Player Rankings in 2015 … Currently plays for the D’Feeters Soccer Club ECNL 2000 and has since 2015.
FROM HER COACH: “Emily is a very versatile and talented player. Her technical ability combined with her work rate make her an impactful player on the field. A tireless worker with exceptional fitness and a selfless attitude, she is a player you can count on for the entire 90+ minutes anywhere on the pitch.” – D’Feeters coach Randy Shaw
WHY SHE CHOSE ARKANSAS: When I first visited Arkansas, I was overwhelmed with how beautiful the campus is. The Jerry & Gene Jones Family Student-Athlete Success Center amazed me because I didn’t realize how much support the student-athletes at Arkansas receive. All the athletic facilities are very impressive. I’m very excited to be attending the University of Arkansas and playing in the SEC for Coach Hale.” – Emily Russell
Abbey Saddler | Goalkeeper | Chattanooga, Tenn. | East Hamilton HS | FC Alliance
BEFORE ARKANSAS: Was a starter on the varsity team for East Hamilton High School as an eighth grader … Member of two-time all-district team in 2013 and 2014 … Was named first team all-region in 2014 … District tournament champion in 2013-14 … Regional champion in 2014 … Played club for FC Alliance, which is now part of the ECNL system from 2012-2017 … CASL Tournament champion in 2015 … Also played on the Chattanooga Futbol Club in the Women’s Premier Soccer League from 2016-2017 … Was invited to the ID2 US Club Soccer National Identification and Development Program in 2012 and 2015 … Selected to US National Team Training Center program in 2016 … Is currently on campus as an early enrollee.
WHY SHE CHOSE ARKANSAS: “I chose Arkansas because it made me feel most at home. The campus, the facilities, the coaching staff, and the players just seemed to fit me best.” – Abbey Saddler
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