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- Toast of the tailgaters
Signed and sealed Fifteen Warwick student-athletes pen scholarships
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
Combined, the Warwick field hockey and boys soccer teams won 38 games last fall, captured a pair of Lancaster-Lebanon League crowns, and earned 12 playoff victories.
Last Wednesday, Feb. 1, they produced another remarkable number.
Twelve college signees.
Alexis Charles (East Stroudsburg University), Bethany Han (Ball State University), Emily Harting (Old Dominion University), Kayla Laughman (Temple University), Alyssa Manley (Syracuse University), Jenica Miller (LaSalle University) and Emma Rissinger (University of Maryland) each signed her name during a National Signing Day ceremony to continue their field hockey careers at the next level.
Seated next to them at the head table were Derek Adams (Shippensburg University), Ryan Bertrando (Lehigh University), Asher Klahold (Lock Haven University), Shawn Mearig (LaSalle University) and Jonathan Wenger (Elon University), who all made it official to play men’s soccer in college.
That, however, wasn’t the end of it. All told, Warwick had 15 senior student-athletes inking their John Hancock, including Jake Watson, who will play men’s lacrosse at Florida Institute of Technology, Brittany Hasson, who is headed to St. Francis University to play women’s soccer and Morgan Heckel, who plans to swim at Mansfield University.
"That’s the most (signees) that we’ve had since I’ve been here," said John Kosydar, who took over as Warwick’s athletic director in 2005. "And the fact that 10 of them were Division-I, I mean, that’s really cool. Obviously, those (field hockey and boys’ soccer) teams did very well this past year and to have two League champs in the same season was really cool, and a lot of those players obviously made up the core of those teams. It was neat to have all 15 up there."
For Warwick field hockey coach Bob Derr, it was neat to see seven of his nine seniors from the 2011 team signing letters of intent to play at the next level.
"Where they’re going, I think they got to the right school and they’re going to be able to make a huge impact," Derr said. "They’re going to have to work hard and I hope that they remember what they had to do this year to do well. They’re going to have to do it again."
That hard work helped take the Lady Warriors to the L-L League title and on to the PIAA Triple-A State finals.
"It was a great joy with this group because they made great change from the past," Derr remarked. "They had a lot of work to do and they believed in one another and trusted each other and they were honest with one another and that’s what brought them together."
Field hockey players who signed included:
tAlexis Charles, a Second-Team All-American goalkeeper, will remain a Warrior, as she will trade in her Warwick gear for that of East Stroudsburg. Her two finalists were both PSAC schools, having selected ESU over Kutztown University.
"I liked that it was close — it’s only two hours away — and the coach (Sandy Miller) seemed a lot more competitive than the other coach at Kutztown. So that’s something I really liked," said Charles, who also earned All-League, All-Region and All-State First-Team honors as a senior. "The campus was nice … and the team seemed real nice."
Indications are that Charles will compete against another freshman recruit for the keeper’s position this fall.
"It’s between me and her," Charles said.
tFor Han, a Second-Team L-L selection, the Ball State coaches made a huge impression on her. While she had also been considering Towson, Liberty and West Chester, it was actually an easy choice going with the Cardinals of Ball State. Han visited the Muncie, Ind. campus right before Easter break in 2011 and gave a verbal commitment just two weeks later.
"The first thing I liked was the coaches," Han, a nursing major, said. "I really like my head coach (Beth Maddox), she’s really cool, and I like that they’re a little bit younger and it’s refreshing, so I like that. The team is really awesome and the campus is great. It’s everything I can ask for. As soon as I set foot (there), I was like, ‘This is it.’"
A midfielder for the Warwick team which won the L-L crown and PIAA silver medal in 2011, Han expects that she will play either forward or mid at Ball State.
"I definitely won’t be playing defense," Han laughed, " I know that for a fact, but I’ll be happy as long as I’m playing mid or forward … I know I don’t have (defense) in me."
tEmily Harting, though, does have defense in her, having earned Second-Team All-American accolades in 2011. She narrowed her final two choices to Temple and Old Dominion, but it was the Lady Monarchs who won her services.
"I really liked the girls and the campus was great and I just felt like that program would fit me better than Temple’s," said Harting, who also received All-Section One, League, Regional and State First-Team honors. "I felt like it was definitely a gut feeling, but it also kinda reminded me of this (Warwick) program a little bit."
Harting will join an ODU program which advanced to the Final Four in the 2011 NCAA Division-I Tournament. She also played in the midfield at Warwick up through her sophomore season, but she will contribute anywhere needed at ODU.
"I like playing defense," Harting said, "but I’ve got to go where the coach puts me."
tIf Harting had opted for Temple, she and Kayla Laughman would have remained teammates at the next level, as Laughman selected the Lady Owls over the likes of Richmond and Ball State.
"I looked at a couple of Division Twos and Threes," said Laughman, who will study business at Temple, "but I really wanted to go to a bigger school. Temple just seemed like a good fit for me."
She acknowledged that staying fairly close to home was a factor in her decision.
"We come from a small town, so it’s going to be a different experience being in a big city which I really liked," Laughman said, "and their field hockey team is so close and they seem like they’re really close friends, not just teammates."
A Second-Team L-L All-Star back, Laughman joins a Lady Owls’ squad which advanced to the A-10 championship game in 2011, where they dropped a 1-0 loss to Richmond. Temple loses two or three backs due to graduation, including Warwick grad Becca Keener.
"That should open up spots there, so hopefully it will all work out," Laughman said.
tAlyssa Manley, a First-Team All-American, will be looking to earn a spot with the two-time Big East champion Syracuse Orange. The University of Michigan was her other finalist, but she gave a verbal commitment to SU shortly after the National Festival in her junior season.
"I just got that feeling that it was kinda like home for me, that I would fit in there better," Manley said. "And in their program, (head coach) Ange (Bradley) coaches kinda like coach Derr, so I felt like it was probably the best decision."
Manley was also selected to the USA U-17 squad which competed in the 2011 Holland Tour and she was named the Lancaster Sports Writers and Coaches Player of the Year in 2011. Manley also received All-Section One, League, Region and State First-Team honors at midfield.
Asked if she hopes to continue playing midfield in college, Manley said, "It doesn’t really matter to me — just as long as I’m playing. They told me they might have me ending up, maybe in my junior and senior years, as a defender."
tJenica Miller, for her part, certainly knows a thing or two about being a defender. She will continue her career at the next level under a former Warwick star player, Michelle Marks, who is now coaching the Lady Explorers.
"My coach said she could see me (playing) defense or midfield," Miller said.
She initially visited PSAC schools IUP and West Chester, the reigning Division-II national champion. But after visiting LaSalle in Philadelphia, Miller was hooked.
"I really liked the campus," she said. "It wasn’t too big. I don’t want to go to a really big school, so I liked the size and when I met the team, they were all just so welcoming and nice. I just had a really good time when I went there."
tFor Emma Rissinger, the atmosphere at Maryland was one of the big thing that sold her on the Lady Terrapins. Although she visited a number of different schools, including Penn State, New Hampshire and the University of North Carolina, her two finalists were Maryland and Michigan State.
"It’s a pretty big college and I just like that big feeling," Rissinger said. "I didn’t think I would be comfortable at a small school and I really liked all the girls and the coaches. They were all really welcoming and I just felt welcomed as soon as I got there."
A First-Team All-Section One, League, Region and State selection, Rissinger, who will study family sciences, played on the forward line at Warwick since seventh grade, and contributed 18 goals and 19 assists for the 2011 team which reached the PIAA finals. Her skills will be welcomed on a Maryland squad which took home its second straight NCAA Division-I crown in November, beating UNC 3-2.
"It’s a little bit intimidating coming into such a strong program and having to live up to it," Rissinger said, "but I’m excited too."
Warwick boys soccer coach Dale Stoltzfus was excited for his five players who inked deals to play in college.
"It’s a very special group of kids and not only are they athletes, but there’s a very tremendous group of student-athletes there, not just as soccer players," Stoltzfus said. "It’s thrilling to get to see them have success in the classroom and I wish them the best of luck."
Stoltzfus credited the leadership of those five — and the seniors as a whole — as a key reason for the Warriors winning their first ever L-L title in the fall.
"It’s a special group of seniors this year," he remarked. "They’re just some tremendous soccer players and have played soccer a lot of their life and they’re going to be successful in college if they can stay focused and keep working at it."
tDerek Adams, a midfielder, will keep working at his game as a member of the Raiders at Shippensburg University. He narrowed his final two choices to Ship and Bloomsburg.
"I had a great official (visit) when I went (to Ship)," Adams said. "They’re good soccer, but I should be able to step in and play. And they had my major (supply chain management) … they’re one of the only schools in PA to have it, so it seemed like the right fit."
A member of the PA Classics Elite and U18 Developmental squads, along with a Distinguished Honor Roll and Honor Roll student all four years at Warwick, Adams will join a Shippensburg team coming off back-to-back trips to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.
"When I go next year, they’ll have a lot of seniors, but then after that, they’re losing like three starting midfielders, so I should be able to step in," Adams said.
tRyan Bertrando also received several offers from Patriot League schools, including Bucknell and Lafayette, and he looked at some Ivy League schools, but Lehigh University was the best fit.
"(Lehigh) was really focused on the math (schools), which is what my interest is," said Bertrando, who will study business and engineering. "And they have a good soccer program. I was just excited to be there."
The Mountain Hawks are no doubt excited to bring in Bertrando, who was a State All-Star in 2011 while playing as an attacking center midfielder for the Warriors.
"That was good for school ball because it gave me a chance to develop some scoring abilities," Bertrando said. "But I’ll probably end up playing defensive center midfield because I tend to be more of a defensive player everywhere else."
Bertrando also was a member of the U.S. Soccer Developmental Academy and the Philadelphia Union Academy team, in addition to being a Distinguished Honor Roll student throughout high school.
tAsher Klahold also was an Honor Roll student at Warwick and he was a League First-Team, Region and Lancaster Intell Sports Writers All-Star. Eastern University and Lock Haven were his two finalists, but the Bald Eagles seemed to show more interest.
"What I liked about Lock Haven was the environment and the distance away from home," Klahold said. "It was far enough away from home, but it wasn’t too far, so I was happy with that … I thought Lock Haven would be perfect for me, and I don’t think Eastern had my major (health sciences)."
LHU loses a large group of seniors from the squad which lost on penalty kicks to Bloomsburg in the PSAC semi-finals, so that could create an opening for Klahold.
"Most of (the seniors) will be wingers or forward, so that’s where we’re looking at (me) playing, but we’ll see," Klahold said.
tLaSalle University advanced to the A-10 semi-finals in 2011, where they dropped a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to George Washington, but they are losing a big chunk of their defense and that could be good news for Mearig.
"LaSalle is losing three of their four defenders this year," Mearig said. "Hopefully, I get a starting job, (but) we’ll see."
Mearig, who plans to have a dual major in elementary education and special education, also received an offer from UMass, but his heart was with the Explorers.
"It’s right in Philly, close to the Flyers and all that, and I like the campus," said Mearig, a Central PA and League First-Team All-Star, along with an Honor Roll student throughout high school. "The campus is perfect — not too big, not too small — and I like the teacher-to-student ratio."
Mearig was also a talented kicker for the Warwick football team as a senior, leading the League in field goals and earning L-L All-Star accolades. While he acknowledged that he gave a thought to kicking in college, he didn’t pursue the idea.
"It was kind of a high school thing," he said.
tJonathan Wenger also was a First-Team League All-Star, in addition to playing for the PA Classics U16 Academy national finalist and the Philadelphia Union Academy team. He also received an offer from the University of New Hampshire.
"I narrowed it down to those two," Wenger said of UNH and Elon, located in North Carolina. "(But) I like the south and the soccer environment (at Elon). With the ACC around there, there’s good competition. And academically, it’s a good school."
While he is undecided about his major, Wenger, a Distinguished Honor Roll and Honor Roll Student all four years of high school, is leaning toward business. Between the white lines, Wenger showed his versatility by playing all over the field for the Warriors, but he anticipates playing center back at the college level.
"Maybe in the midfield, but we’ll see what happens," Wenger remarked. "Center back is usually my position, like in club and higher levels."
tTurning to women’s soccer, Brittany Hasson received offers from Binghamton University, Monmouth, Marshall and Pitt. But many of those schools wanted her to commit by January of her junior year, and she wasn’t ready to do that.
"For me, it was between Binghamton and St. Francis," Hasson said. "I went on my official visit (to St. Francis) and I really liked it, so I’m glad I picked that over the others."
In 2011, the Red Flash were within one win of advancing to the NCAA Women’s College Cup, dropping a tough 4-3 loss to Long Island for the Northeast Championship. In 2010, they suffered a double-OT loss to Big Ten champ Ohio State with a berth in the NCAA Final Four at stake.
"I really like their team. They just have good chemistry and they went far," said Hasson, a First-Team All-Star and a four-year varsity starter for the Lady Warriors. "Also, it’s a small campus and I kinda like that. It’s a small class, so you (have a good ratio) with teachers if you need help and everything."
Although Hasson has played everywhere on the field for Warwick, she plays forward with her club team, which is where she hopes to play with the Red Flash.
"I’ve been up front all my life, so I should probably stay up there," she laughed.
tMorgan Heckel opted to take an offer to swim at Mansfield University over others from Virginia, upper state Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including Bridgewater (Va.) and Montclair (N.J.).
"I like how (Mansfield) is up in the mountains and it’s away from everything and it’s far enough away from home, but it’s still close that I can come home," Heckel said. "And my parents can see me while I swim, so that really meant something to me too."
She committed with the Mountaineers in November following an official visit a couple of months earlier.
"I stayed over the weekend and that’s when I saw that I really like the campus," Heckel said. "Being with the students there, I really fell in love with it then."
A co-captain for the Warwick girls team which defeated Hempfield for the first time in 10 years this winter, Heckel is a four-year varsity letter winner and the team’s High Point Award recipient as a freshman. She expects to swim the 200 breast and 400 I.M. in college.
"I usually swim the longer events (for the Five Star club team), so that’s usually what I train for," Heckel said.
tJake Watson has the distinction among Warwick’s recruits of traveling the furthest away from home, having signed with Florida Tech in Melbourne, Fla., where he will play for the Panthers’ men’s lacrosse team.
"I’m going to the beach when I get to Florida," quipped Watson, who also looked at Jacksonville, Ohio State and Pitt. "I’ve always enjoyed Florida quite a bit, so I’ve always wanted to go there. Plus with Florida Tech, they just have the right balance of academics and lacrosse."
With aerospace engineering as his intended major, Florida Tech was the perfect fit.
"It’s right near Kennedy Space Center," Watson said. "The third day I’ll be there, they’re having a launch so I’ll be able to see that."
An injury wiped out his junior season at Warwick, but Watson was an All-League keeper in 2010 and a Central Penn Adidas All-American. He will join a Panther squad which plays its inaugural season this spring.
"They’re a new program, so I’ll be going in there for their second year, which I’m happy about because it helps me get a chance to get the starting spot right away and help build the team," Watson said. More RECRUITS, page B-6
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