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Clayton State sign six to soccer scholarships

Jeff Hurndon Photography: Union Grove senior Danielle Fletcher has signed a soccer scholarship with Clayton State University. The center backfielder is part of a Lady Wolverines team that is 9-0-1 and leading Region 3A-AAAA.

Jeff Hurndon Photography: Union Grove senior Danielle Fletcher has signed a soccer scholarship with Clayton State University. The center backfielder is part of a Lady Wolverines team that is 9-0-1 and leading Region 3A-AAAA.

Fresh off leading the Clayton State women’s soccer team to its first winning season in three years, coach Gareth O’Sullivan is now starting the process of building the Lakers into a championship-level program.

O’Sullivan announced the six new additions to the Clayton State recruiting class. The six are two JUCO All-Americans, one Canadian Junior National Team player and three area high school standouts. In addition to these six, O’Sullivan plans to sign another four or five for the 2012 season.

Clayton State is coming off a 9-7-2 mark in O’Sullivan’s first season, including 4-4-2 in Peach Belt Conference play.

“I’m excited with this first group we have signed,” O’Sullivan said. “It’s a great blend of players who all bring a lot to the table.”

The headliners for the recruiting class are a pair of JUCO All-Americans from Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College — midfielders Alicia Robinson and Pearl Slattery. Both Robinson and Slattery helped pace Hutchinson to a 17-3 mark and No. 3 ranking nationally at the NJCAA level this past season.

Robinson, from Teleford, England, was a second-team NJCAA All-American this past season, becoming the first two-time All-American at Hutchinson. She also was a two-time Jayhawk Conference Offensive Player of the Year.

Robinson scored 12 goals and led the nation with a Hutchinson school-record 27 assists, tying her for third on the team with 51 points. This season, she had four multi-goal games and seven multi-assist games. For her career at Hutchinson, Robinson scored 24 goals with a school-record 42 assists for 90 points.

Slattery, from Dublin, Ireland, was an NJCAA honorable mention All-American selection, in addition to being a two-time NJCAA All-Region and All-Jayhawk Conference selection. She became the sixth player at Hutchinson to tally 20 goals in a season, and also recorded 15 assists for 55 points.

For her career, Slattery scored 29 goals with 27 assists for 85 points. She also set the Hutchinson single-game record for assists with five.

“Alicia has tremendous composure on the ball and should create many opportunities in the opponents final third,” O’Sullivan said. “She reminds me of (legendary Manchester United star) Paul Scholes. Pearl will give us options in the middle of the field. She has goals in her and is also very strong in the air.”

Nour Ghoneim is a forward from Toronto, and attends Williams Secondary School in Ontario. She has represented Canada at both the U-17 and U-19 levels and will give the Lakers more scoring punch up front. She was a part of the U-17 Canadian National Team that won the 2010 CONCACAF Championship. Ghoneim scored twice during that tournament against Jamaica.

Ghoneim played at the club level for the Richmond Hill Soccer Club in Ontario.

“We have high expectations from Nour,” O’Sullivan said. “She is a versatile forward who has represented Canada at the U17 & U19 age level."

The three area prep newcomers are Danielle Fletcher from Union Grove, Courtney Hodges from Heritage in Conyers, and Jency Ramirez from Berkmar in Lilburn.

Fletcher has lettered the last three seasons at defender for Union Grove, having helped paced the Lady Wolverines to the Class AAAA quarterfinals last season after twice advancing to the second round of the Class AAAA state tournament. Fletcher is a two-time All-Henry County selection and a 2010 All-Region in 2-AAAAA selection.

Fletcher plays club soccer for Macon United and is expected to play both central and outside back on defense at Clayton State.

Hodges predominantly has played central defender during her career at Heritage, but also has spent time at forward. She has helped pace Heritage to three straight Class AAAA state tournament appearances and plays club soccer for the Norcross Fury.

Ramirez is teammates with Hodges for the Norcross Fury, and also plays outside midfielder at Berkmar. In addition, she also represented her native El Salvador in the 2011 U-20 CONCACAF Tournament.

“Danielle has tremendous speed and can play as a central defender and as at outside back, while Courtney has the potential to be a very good defender in the Peach Belt,” O’Sullivan said. “Jency can operate up top or as a wide midfielder. She can deliver quality crosses and is excellent on set plays.”