FAYETTEVILLE – Rounding out one of its largest signing classes ever, the University of Arkansas women’s soccer team looked to its immediate neighbors and to the Natural State to complete its list of signees for the 2006 fall season.
Picking up two players from hometown Fayetteville, Jackie Booker and Sophie Wentz one from Roland, Ark., Sarah Finn and a pair from Texas, Kat Moffett and Kim Schleif, Arkansas’ coaching staff feels like they have accomplished their goals as they prepare for the fall.
“We were missing some things from our team last year,” Arkansas head coach Gordon Henderson said. “We addressed them with this class and I really do believe that this class has the ability to begin to take Arkansas to the next level.”
Hometown heroes Booker and Wentz need only travel down the road to find their new home pitch as the Fayetteville High School stars opted to play together for four additional seasons. Booker has been Fayetteville High School’s starting goalkeeper for the past two seasons and is scheduled to start again for the Bulldogs in their 2006 season. As a sophomore she was named all-state and led her team to the state finals. As a member of the Arkansas Comets club team, Booker helped her squad earn four state championships over the past four seasons and played on the state U17 ODP team.
“Jackie is unquestionably the best goalkeeper from the state of Arkansas this year,” Henderson said. “We look forward to Jackie challenging Carrie Dillsaver for the starting goalkeeper position in the fall. She has soft hands and will work unbelievably hard to achieve her goals. She is also a National Merit semifinalist and should continue the academic successes of our team.”
While Booker was protecting the goal, Wentz was scoring them for Fayetteville. A three-year starter heading into her senior year, she was named all-state as a junior and like Booker played in the state championship game as a sophomore. Also playing for the Arkansas Comets, Wentz took four state titles and played for the Oklahoma ODP team in 2005.
“Technically she is one of the best players out of Arkansas in a long time,” said Henderson. “She definitely has the ability to see time this year. She has great vision and distributes the ball well. She is comfortable under pressure and I look forward to seeing her develop once she gets into our training environment. Her potential is unlimited.”
Completing the Lady Razorbacks’ native Arkansas signees is Finn, a defender that could make a strong impact. Playing the same style of soccer as current Lady Razorback Whitney Allison and recently departed senior Katie Taylor, Finn’s hard work and endurance could be her calling card to the starting lineup in the fall.
“Sarah typifies a true hard nosed defender,” Henderson said. “She is most similar to Katie Taylor in that she is quick, strong and athletic. She can’t wait to get here and will work 110% to get to where she needs to be. She is a Lady’Back through and through.”
Joining the Lady Razorbacks from McKinney, Texas, Moffett could be one of the best finds for Arkansas’ coaching staff. Decorated on every level, Moffett was named an NSCAA/Adidas all-American as well as an NSCAA/Adidas Scholar all-American as a senior making her the first prep all-American to ever sign with the Lady Razorbacks. As a junior she was named McKinney North High School’s overall and offensive MVP, first-team all-county, all-region and all-district and took a NSCAA/Adidas regional all-America.
“Kat comes to Arkansas with a resume as impressive as it gets,” said Henderson. “She is one of two student-athletes nationwide voted both an academic and athletic high school all-American. Although she is one of the smallest players on the field, this kid can play multiple rolls. She is composed, confident and a natural leader. She has a great shot and is always a leader on her team in assists because of her great vision.”
Schleif wraps up Arkansas’ 2006 signing class and the outside midfielder/forward should be a treat to watch in the fall. An all-district, region and state team player as a junior, Schleif brings a tradition of winning with her to Arkansas. A member of the Ronald Reagan High School district and region championships as a sophomore, the Rattler’s were state finalists that season and regional finalists and second in the district her freshman and junior seasons.
“Kim will probably play a flank forward position this fall,” said Henderson. “She is quick with a nose for the goal and likes to attack. Sometimes scoring goals is more attitude than it is ability and she has that attitude. She can score the scrappy goals in front of the goal as well as from the outside which is what you need.”
The Lady Razorbacks begin their spring season on March 4, when they travel to Tulsa, Okla., to play the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State Univ. For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women’s athletics, visit www.ladybacks.com.