Recruiting yields 9 women’s soccer newcomers
In the latest influx of players for Longwood University’s women’s soccer program that is among the winningest in the Big South since joining the conference in 2012, Lancers Head Coach Todd Dyer and Associate Head Coach Rich Stoneman announced the addition of nine incoming freshmen for the upcoming 2020 season.
The group includes midfielder and defender Amanda Arnone, midfielder and defender Alex Dinger, defender Camille Jernigan, forward Katelyn Laux, midfielder and defender Alayna Palamar, defender Mikayla Schuetz, defender Grace Shook, midfielder and defender Kaley Unger and midfielder Isabella Unrath.
The class is in-state heavy, with six of the nine newcomers hailing from the commonwealth, two from North Carolina and one from Maryland. The group includes a North Carolina state champion, a member of a high school program that achieved a No. 1 national ranking, a Virginia State Cup champion and three high school conference champions.
Their post-college aspirations have the group set on career paths to nursing, microbiology, coaching, epidemiology, physical therapy, sports psychology and digital media, all exploits consistent with the Longwood women’s soccer program’s longstanding history of academic success.
Arnone is a 5-foot-5-inch midfielder and defender from James River High School in Midlothian, where she was a two-sport standout lettering four years in both soccer and basketball. She helped lead both teams to regional championships, including a soccer title as a junior and a basketball crown as a senior.
An all-state first team pick as a junior and a three-time all-region selection, she scored 10 goals and dished four assists as a junior before her senior season was canceled due to the coronavirus. Despite the abrupt end to her high school career, she still racked up 23 goals and eight assists during her three years on the field. She also qualified for the Champions League in the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) with the Richmond United club in 2018.
“Amanda is an athletic attacking player with a burst of pace and a mean streak in front of the goal,” Dyer said. “She has the physical tools and mindset to be in the mix for playing time immediately.”
An honor roll student, Arnone was the recipient of James River’s Geometry Award and built an extensive volunteer resume that included the Little Feet Meet for Autism Awareness, a Powder Puff Tournament that raised money to build homes in Cambodia, and a program educating underprivileged youth in the inner city of Richmond. She plans to major in nursing, pursue her master’s degree and become a nurse practitioner.
Dinger is a 5-foot-4-inch midfielder out of Fredericksburg, where she was home-schooled and played for the Commonwealth Futbol Club, Arlington Soccer Association and FC Prime in the ECNL. She has also competed in the Olympic Development Program at the district and state levels.
Along with her soccer prowess, Dinger has also competed in futsal, a five-per-side version of soccer played on a hard court. She was part of a Mid-Atlantic Regional championship team in futsal and also played 3-v-3 soccer where she was one-third of a regional finalist squad.
“Dinger is a soccer nut who not only loves the game, she truly lives it,” Dyer said. “She is a creative attacking player that is strong on the ball, covers tons of ground and is constantly working to find threatening spaces and opportunities.”
Planning to major in kinesiology, Dinger has already gotten a head start on her future career as a soccer coach as a volunteer assistant with numerous programs, including Rare Soccer Academy and Commonwealth FC. She has also volunteered her time with the Commonwealth FC Vertimax Program as a Lead Vertimax SAQ trainer and is the recipient of the ECNL Coaching Education Scholarship.
Jernigan is a 5-foot-3-inch outside back from North Carolina powerhouse Wakefield High School in Raleigh, where she was part of two conference championship teams and a squad that was ranked No. 1 in the nation her freshman year. Capping her four-year stint as a starter at Wakefield, she was selected to play in the Clash of the Carolinas, the state’s high school all-star game, as a senior.
Jernigan was a team captain as a senior and an all-conference honorable mention selection as a junior. She totaled six goals and eight assists from the backfield and midfield during her career and helped Wakefield win the conference regular-season title in 2017 and the league tournament in 2018.
“Camille is quick, tenacious and relentless from her outside back position,” Dyer said. “She competes and tackles with an edge and is just as eager to impose herself going forward and joining the attack.”
An honor roll student and recipient of the Academic in Motion Award, she is involved with Fellowship of Christian Athletes and has volunteered with Stop Hunger Now, the Wakefield High School campus cleanup and the Wakefield High School Youth Soccer Camp. She plans to major in kinesiology and pursue a career in sports.
Laux is a 5-foot-9-inch forward from Fuquay-Varina High School in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, and rejoins former prep teammate and current Lancer sophomore Tori Gagliardi in Farmville. Both Laux and Gagliardi teamed up to lead Fuquay-Varina to a North Carolina state championship in 2018, with Gagliardi holding down the backfield and Laux shouldering the team’s scoring load.
As a junior, Laux led the conference with 19 goals and was named all-conference second team and Fuquay-Varina’s most valuable offensive player. She followed with two goals and two assists as team captain her senior year before the season was canceled due to coronavirus, bringing her high school total to 27 goals and eight assists.
“Katelyn is a target central player up top who can hold the ball but also looks to face defenders and attack off the dribble,” Dyer said. “She is a physical force in the final third that can cause lots of trouble for the opposition.”
Along with her soccer success, Laux is a member of the National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, student council and the student ambassadors. She served as a Junior Marshall and volunteered with the honor societies at Main Street Kitchen and the Clothing Closet. Her career aspirations are to become a traveling nurse anesthetist.
Palamar is a 5-foot-6-inch midfielder and defender out of Williamsport High School in Smithsburg, Maryland, where she was named the Herald Mail Player of the Decade and Player of the Year as a senior. Also a MACS All-State First Team honoree and a three-time all-county first team selection, she scored double-digit goals in each of her final two seasons, including a 13-goal, nine-assist campaign in 2019. For her prep career, she amassed 38 goals and 27 assists during her four years as a starter.
A three-time team captain, Palamar also lettered twice in basketball and was an all-tournament selection on the hardwood at the Richard E. Doub Tournament as well as a team captain.
In addition to her athletic accolades, she boasts an extensive volunteer resume as a member of Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and with time spent at the River City Basketball Camp, the Elks Hoop Shoot Competition, the Golden Mile Soccer Program and the FC Frederick Youth Camp. She is also a graduate of the STEMM Middle College program, a three-time Williamsport High School Shining Star selection and a member of the Spanish National Honor Society.
“Alayna is a versatile, hard-working player most effective in wide positions,” Dyer said. “Her length and ability to cover ground could also put her in contention as an outside defender.”
Palamar plans to major in biology, minor in Spanish and add a concentration in clinical lab science. After graduation, she plans to pursue a career in microbiology.
Schuetz is a 5-foot-2-inch outside back and wing from Patriot High School in Bristow, who helped the team to the Cedar Run Conference Championship. She was named to the all-conference second team as a junior and captained the team as a senior.
Schuetz also played with the Virginia Development Academy and helped the program win the VYSA State Cup in 2018.
“Schuetz is a well-rounded defender capable of playing just about any other position on the field,” Dyer said. “She’s fundamentally sound physically, technically and tactically on both sides of the ball.”
Schuetz is a member of the National Honor Society and BETA Club and a multi-time honor roll student. She has volunteered as a coach for 5 to 7 year olds and disabled children and has taken part in gift wrapping for underprivileged children. She is undecided on her major but plans to study life science and pursue her master’s in epidemiology with a career goal of working for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Shook is a 5-foot-7-inch defender from the Virginia regional champion and state semifinal qualifier Kellam High School in Virginia Beach. She played a key role in the program’s regional title her junior year, starting every game and earning all-state first team and all-region accolades. The all-state award was the second of her prep career, which saw her start all four years until her senior season was canceled.
Shook captained the team as a senior and took part in two state semifinal games, advancing to the Virginia state championship game as a freshman. She also played for Beach FC and helped that club to back-to-back state cup championships in 2018 and 2019.
Outside of soccer, she volunteered her time at summer soccer camps and at the SPCA.
“Grace is primarily a central defender who is able to apply her skill set in wide positions as well,” Dyer said. “She’s a clean player in terms of her decision-making and ability to transition from defense to attack.”
Shook plans to major in communications with an emphasis in digital media and pursue a career in the media and creative industry.
Unger is a 5-foot-4-inch left back and wing from Moseley and continues the Cosby High School pipeline that brought to Longwood numerous program standouts, most recently All-Big South selections Taylor Alvey, a 2020 graduate, and Gina D’Orazio, a 2016 grad, and multi-year starter Jayden Metzger, a 2016 grad. Unger boasts her own impressive resume that includes all-region honors and three-year totals of 17 goals and 25 assists.
As a junior, Unger set career highs with 12 assists and nine goals en route to all-region second-team recognition. She went on to captain Cosby as a senior before the premature cancellation of the season due to the coronavirus. Her freshman year saw Cosby win the conference championship, and as a sophomore she helped the program finish as runners-up at the regional level. She found success on the club circuit as well, playing for a Richmond United program that twice reached the ECNL Nationals.
“Kaley is a left-footed, left-sided defender that possesses a blue-collar attitude and work rate,” Dyer said. “She’s able to get up and down the flank to cover her defensive responsibilities and attacking opportunities.”
Off the field, Unger is an honor roll student and member of the National Honors Art Society, Spanish Club and Varsity Club. She has also volunteered with Meals on Wheels, the Special Olympics and at her local animal shelter. She plans to major in kinesiology and become a physical therapist after graduation.
Unrath is a 5-foot-4-inch midfielder from Stephens City, where she began her high school career at Warren County and finished at Sherando High School. She was a four-year varsity letter winner at the schools and as a junior at Warren was named team MVP and named to the all-district and all-region first teams.
During that 2019 season at Warren, Unrath helped the Wildcats reach the Region 3B quarterfinals. She also competed with the FC United club program and on the ECNL circuit.
“Isabella is a technical attacking player from central midfield,” Dyer said. “She has confidence on the ball, vision and awareness of the whole field, and her ball-striking ability makes her a threat from distance.”
An honor roll student all four years of high school, she received three certificates of academic excellence at Warren. She was also named outstanding teacher aide in the Spanish department and volunteered with the blood drive and at the Salvation Army. She plans to major in psychology and pursue a career in sports psychology.