Duke University women’s soccer head coach Robbie Church announced Wednesday the addition of six commitments for the 2015 campaign, which includes two of the top three players in the class. Overall, the group has been tabbed No. 6 nationally by TopDrawerSoccer.com.
“We are very happy with this class,” commented Church. “We bring in six great student-athletes. They all excel in the classroom and they’re all what we feel will be great role models at the university. The class is going to really fit in with our program. As you look at the class from different positions, we’ve got players who play in the back who can step into the midfield and players in the midfield who can step up front. So it will be interesting to follow this class and to see when we bring everyone back together—when we start our preseason in August—where the pieces fall. But we’re excited about the class, we’re excited about the personality of the young ladies, and we’re excited about the soccer ability that they bring to us.”
Chelsea Burns of Jacksonville, Fla., Kayla McCoy of Lincolnwood, Ill., Kat McDonald of Raleigh, N.C., Anna Munro of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Taylor Racioppi of Ocean Township, N.J., and Mary Love Taylor of Wilson, N.C., will all attend Duke University in the fall and play soccer.
In the latest TopDrawerSoccer.com individual rankings, Racioppi and McCoy are listed as the No. 2 and No. 3 overall players, respectively, in the class. Racioppi is tabbed as the No. 2 midfielder in the 2015 class, while McCoy was selected as the No. 1 forward. It marks the second straight year Church has brought in the top forward as Imani Dorsey was rated No. 1 in 2014.
“We told this class they would have an opportunity to play right away,” said Church. “One of the things that we don’t do, however, is guarantee players places to play. I’ll start in August and build from there. But I think this class certainly addresses some of the real needs of our program. We have a certain type of a target forward coming in, and a very quick central midfield player who can beat players off the dribble. So a lot of these players will have the chance to play from the very beginning, but we’ll see what happens in August.”
A player-by-player listing is below:
5-9 • Defender/Midfielder • Jacksonville, Fla. (St. Johns Country Day School)
Regional Team Experience:
Member ODP Region III team that traveled to Costa Rica and around Europe.
Has yet to play her senior campaign … NSCAA All-America and All-First Coast First Team accolades as a junior … led her St. Johns squad to an undefeated mark with a 24-0-3 record and a State Championship … played in 24 games, scored 29 goals and totaled 17 assists as a junior … All-First Coast Second Team as a sophomore and freshman … played for the Eclipse Select club team that finished second in the Elite Clubs National League in 2014 … currently plays for Florida Kraze Krush and Eclipse Select club teams.
Full name is Chelsea Grace Burns … born February 19, 1997 in Jacksonville, Fla. … daughter of Christopher and Cindy Burns … has one brother, Casey (23), and a twin sister, Celeste (17) … her father, Chris, played tennis at Kalamazoo College (1981-82) … her mother, Cindy, ran cross country at Vanderbilt (1985-86) … member of the National Honor Society, St. Johns Interact club and Summa Cum Laude … is a second degree black belt in Taekwondo.
Church on Burns:
“Chelsea Burns is one of those versatile players we were talking about. We’re very, very excited to have Chelsea come in. The great thing that has happened since we’ve had a commitment from her a number of years ago is that Chelsea has continued to get better and better and better every time we see her. She’s a physical specimen; she’s quick, she closes players down. We see her in the back and she can play all four positions there—central back, out wide on the right- or left-hand side—but she can also step in the midfield. She can play as a holding midfielder in front of our back four, or she can play as an attacking midfielder. She actually plays as a forward right now for her high school team and she’s scoring a lot of goals. She’s very good in the air, she’s good on the tackle and she’s good in the possession game that we like to play. So I think she’s going to fit into our system very nicely since she’ll have an opportunity to come in and see some quality minutes in the fall.”
5-6 • Forward • Lincolnwood, Ill. (Christian Heritage Academy)
National Team Experience:
Participated in the U-20 National Team training camp in 2014 … trained with the U-18 National Team in 2013 … trained with the U-15 National Team in 2011 and 2012.
Ranked as the No. 3 overall player in the class of 2015 by TopDrawerSoccer.com … listed as the No. 1 player in the Midwest Region and No. 1 forward in the class by TopDrawerSoccer.com … NSCAA All-America in 2013 … played club soccer for Eclipse Select and Sockers FC Chicago … did not play high school soccer … an ECNL All-Elite Team selection and top 11 honoree … led her club team to the national finals in 2011.
Full name is Kayla Jay McCoy … born September 3, 1996 in Skokie, Ill. … daughter of Patrick and Joanne McCoy … has four brothers – Jonathon (25), David (20), Jeffrey (12) and Jabarie (11) … has one sister, Brittany (27) … her sister, Brittany, played basketball at Minnesota (2006-10) … her father, Patrick, played football at Northwestern … her mother, Joanne, ran track and field and cross country at Northwestern … a 2015-16 Illinois State Scholar … an honor roll selection from 2012-15.
Church on McCoy:
“Kayla is another one of those players that we talked about. We haven’t really had that type of player for the last couple years in our program. She’s a target forward. Depending on what we play—whether we play two up front or we play three up front—she’s your typical central forward. She holds the ball very, very well and she brings midfielders in play well. She can turn; she strikes a good ball from distance and she scores goals. So Kayla has a real opportunity to come in and see some quality minutes. We think she’s one of the top players in the class of 2015, so we’re very excited for Kayla to come in and join what we have as a good group of young forwards. I think she’s going to add to that quality we have in forward, and make us a little different. We can play two up front, we can play three up front, and we can play one up front with some of our players stepping into midfield. So we’re excited to see when Kayla comes in this August and how it all works out.”
5-3 • Midfielder • Raleigh, N.C. (Wakefield H.S.)
Regional Team Experience:
Traveled to Germany, Austria and Switzerland in 2013 with the Region III ODP team … member of 2013 ODP ’97 Region III squad … a 2012-13 ’97 Region III pool player … member of the 2012 adidas/Chelsea International Training program in London … played in the 2012 ODP ’97 Region III Thanksgiving Interregional in Boca Raton, Fla. … 2010-13 ODP ’97 Region III camp.
Ranked as the No. 83 overall player in the class of 2015 by TopDrawerSoccer.com … listed as the No. 5 player in the South Atlantic Region and the No. 36 midfielder by TopDrawerSoccer.com … a four-year letterwinner at Wakefield H.S. … a three-time All-Region honoree … an All-Conference selection as a sophomore and junior … All-State and All-Southeast USA honoree as a junior … tallied 45 goals and 29 assists in her first three years of high school … as a junior, collected 22 goals and 12 assists … notched a total of 13 goals and 11 assists her sophomore season … as a freshman, tallied 10 goals and six assists … plays club soccer for CASL ECNL … currently owns 12 goals and eight assists for CASL ECNL this season as a captain … advanced to nationals in 2012, 2013 and 2014 … finished second in the ECNL Mid-Atlantic Conference three straight years (2012-14) … 2011 USYSA Region III quarterfinalists and North Carolina State Cup champions … 2010 Disney Soccer Showcase champions and North Carolina State finalists … 2009 Disney Junior Soccer Showcase finalists …
Full name is Katherine Scott McDonald … born February 21, 1997 in Raleigh, N.C. … daughter of Shaw and Kim McDonald … has one brother, Collin (21) … a four-time Lamp of Knowledge award recipient … an honor roll selection as a junior and senior … founder and president of KMAD (Kids Making a Difference) club … two-time member of FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) … member of FFA (Future Farmers of America).
Church on McDonald:
“Kat McDonald is really what I consider to be a perfect player for our system of play. She’s so technically sound. She plays quickly and she connects passes. Kat is a very possession-oriented player; she makes great decisions with the ball. She has good range of connecting balls—short balls, longer balls. And she can come out of midfield and score goals. We see her as a central midfielder, either as a holding defensive midfielder or as an attacking midfielder. But I think Kat and how we play at Duke is a really good match. We’re really excited to have Kat come in and where she falls when we start putting the pieces together in August. She also has a great soccer brain. She thinks a couple steps ahead before the ball arrives. So again, I think Kat will have the opportunity to see some quality minutes for us.”
5-5 • Midfielder • Ocean Township, N.J. (Academy of Allied Health and Science)
National Team Experience:
Competed on the U-20 Women’s National Team for the 2014 World Cup in Canada … saw action in two matches against Brazil and North Korea in the World Cup … was playing three years up and was the second-youngest player on the U.S. roster … participated with the U.S. U-18 Women’s National Team in May of 2014 … member of the U-17 Women’s National Team in 2013 and 2014 … totaled 14 international caps with the U-17 squad along with scoring two goals and posting two assists … member of the U.S. U-15 Girls National Team in 2011 and 2012.
Regional Team Experience:
US Club id2 Regional Camp Sept. 2010 and Oct. 2011 … US Soccer Regional Training Centers March, May, August, Sept., Oct. and Nov. 2011.
Ranked as the No. 2 overall player in the class of 2015 by TopDrawerSoccer.com … listed No 2 in the New Jersey Region and the No. 2 midfielder in the class by TopDrawerSoccer.com … NSCAA Youth All-America in 2013 and 2014 … NJSCA 2014 H.S. All-America … MVP of East team in 2014 High School All-America game … at Ocean Township H.S., she compiled 50 goals, 16 assists and 116 points in three years of high school soccer … as a senior, netted 20 goals, five assists and 45 points … earned First Team All-Shore via the Asbury Park Press, First Team All-State via NJ Advance Media and First Team All-Metro Girls Soccer All-Stars via MSG Varsity … selected Team MVP and Offensive Player of the Year … led Ocean Township to a 14-7 record and an appearance in the Central Jersey, Group Three tournament semifinals … did not play high school soccer as a junior due to a commitment to U.S. Soccer’s U-17 Women’s National Team … collected 20 goals, seven assists and 47 points as a sophomore … earned Second Team All-Shore and Star Ledger Monmouth County Player of the Year … Team MVP selection and scored a team-high goals … as a freshman, posted 10 goals, four assists and 24 points … a Third-Team All-Shore honoree … earned Offensive Player of the Year and led her team in goals … competed for the PDA ECNL Clash club team … finished eighth nationally for U-17, fourth for U-16 and fourth for U-15 … lettered in basketball as a sophomore and junior as well as track & field as a junior … an All-County Monmouth Third Team selection in the 400m and medaled fifth at the Shore Coaches Tournament in the 400m … competed in the Penn Relays in Philadelphia running the 4x100m and the 4x400m.
Full name is Taylor Marie Racioppi … born February 26, 1997 in Red Bank, N.J. … daughter of Richard Racioppi and Jamie Racioppi … has one brother, Nick (15) … member of the National Honor Society and World Language Honors Society … is a certified EMT.
Church on Racioppi:
“We’ve waited a while for Taylor to come into our program. She’s in our opinion the top player in the class of 2015. She is a dynamic player coming out of midfield and she can play up front, too. But we see her coming out of midfield. And again, she’s another one who can play high midfield, right under the forwards. She has a great strike from distance. Taylor can combine with forwards. She can spin off and beat defenders off the dribble herself. She has so many weapons. She can step into the low midfield position and receive balls from back players. She can change the point of attack. There are just so many things that Taylor can do. We think Taylor has the opportunity to come in and really make a mark on our program. Our fans will really enjoy watching Taylor play; she’s a really fun player to watch and we’re going to enjoy having her in our program.”
5-9 • Forward • Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (Lisgar Collegiate Institute)
National Team Experience:
Selected to the Pre-REX national program in the winter of 2014
Regional Team Experience:
Member of Team Ontario Provincial team for U-14, U-15 and U-16 … traveled to Spain and France with the Provincial team.
Currently playing for the Ottawa Fury club team … has also seen action with Nepean Hotspurs and Ottawa South United … her Ottawa South United squad were Ontario Cup finalists in the summer of 2014 … U-15 Ontario Provincial team champions of All-Star nationals in 2013 … played high school soccer at Lisgar College Institute as a junior and senior … a four-year letterwinner in track & field, volleyball and basketball … a three-year letterwinner in cross country … her volleyball team were city finalists as a sophomore and attended Provincials as a junior … one of the top 10 in the city for cross country as a sophomore.
Full name is Anna Diane Munro … born March 12, 1998 in Ottawa, Canada … daughter of Shane and Camille Munro … has one brother, Evan (21), and one sister, Amy (19) … her father, Shane, played volleyball at Dalhousie University … received the Lisgar Silver Medal for above 90 percent average as a freshman, sophomore and junior.
Church on Munro:
“We really found Anna in our camp. A lot of people ask, ‘Do players join your team coming through your camp?’ And Anna’s just another in a long line of players that have joined our program that way. She appeared in our Elite camp in July and she really impressed the coaching staff with her athleticism. She’s a wide player. We see her as a wide forward or a wide midfielder. She has the ability to take players on. She’s very athletic; she covers a lot of ground. She’s technically very good and is a very, very good student. She was a little bit of a late addition to our program, but I think when she gets here in August, she’s going to really have an opportunity to make an impact on our program. If she can finish and provide some scoring opportunities from the flanks, it’s really going to help her chances of getting her on the field in 2015.”
Mary Love Taylor
5-7 • Forward • Wilson, N.C. (Ralph L. Fike H.S.)
Regional Team Experience:
Region III ODP pool from 2010-13 … competed in the Region III International trip to Germany, Austria and Switzerland in 2013 … played in the Region III Thanksgiving Interregional in Boca Raton, Fla., in 2012 … participated in the Las Vegas Invitational in 2012.
Ranked No. 39 in the South Atlantic Region by TopDrawerSoccer.com … has yet to play her senior campaign, which will start in the spring … All-Big East Conference and NCSCA Region III All-Region selection as a junior … helped her team advance to the NCHSAA 3-A state semifinals and won the Big East Conference championship … advanced to the ECNL Champions League playoffs and competed in the ECNL PDP Mid-Atlantic Event in Richmond, Va. … played club soccer as a sophomore … advanced to the ECNL North American League finals … attended the Greenfield School from the seventh through freshman campaigns … as a freshman, selected NCSCA All-Region I … NCISAA 1-A All-State, CPIC All-Conference and was the team MVP … her squad won the 1A NCISAA State Championship … played varsity soccer as a seventh and eighth grader … earned NCSCA All-Region I, NCISAA 1-A All-State and was a CPIC All-Conference honoree as an eighth grader … Greenfield School Midfielder of the Year … in the seventh grade, was named NCISA 1-A All-State, CPIC All-Conference and Greenfield School Defender of the Year … currently plays for the 96 Charlotte Soccer Academy ECNL squad … competed with the 96 CASL Chelsea Ladies ECNL team from her freshman through junior campaigns … USYS Region III Tournament quarterfinalist and NCYSA State Cup champions in 2011 … 2010 Disney Junior Soccer Showcase champions.
Full name is Mary Love Taylor … born June 24, 1997 in Wilson, N.C. … daughter of Stephen and Lovie Taylor … has one sister, Anne Elliott (15) … her father, Stephen Taylor played soccer at Atlantic Christian College (1987) … her great grandfather, Julian Clyde (Bill) Jessup played baseball at Duke (1938-40) … her uncle, Elliott McCabe played football at N.C. State (1983-85) and graduated from Duke Fuqua Business School (1990) … member of National Honor Society … received the Academic Excellence Award/Principal’s list each of her four years of high school … Secretary of Student Government Association as a senior.
Church on Taylor:
“Mary Love Taylor is another North Carolina player. I’ve known Mary Love for a long time. She has great Duke ties with her family. Mary Love is another player who really improved over the years. Once she made a commitment to come to Duke, she really started working hard on her soccer and we’re very happy to have her in our program. She’s a central back and can also play as an outside back or step into the midfield as a holding midfielder. We really see her as a central back; she has good technical ability. We feel we can build through Mary Love. The speed of play will definitely be a big factor for her in terms of how quickly she can adjust to the college game. But she has good range on her passing. She can get good balls into the midfielders. She has good longer balls where she can play into the forwards. She’s good in the air and plays hard defensively. We’ll have a number of central backs next year and that’s going to be one of the real key areas to look at in our preseason battle because that’s an area where we have to get better. Our back four has to get better as we move forward to next season.”
As a team, Duke will return nine starters from a year ago, including five of the Blue Devils’ top six scorers. Returning for Duke includes rising sophomore Imani Dorsey, junior Lizzy Raben, junior Toni Payne, junior Christina Gibbons, senior Kara Wilson, junior Rebecca Quinn, sophomore Ashton Miller, sophomore Schuyler DeBree and sophomore Morgan Reid. The Blue Devils also welcome back 10 other letterwinners along with the anticipated return of 2012 National Freshman of the Year Cassie Pecht, after missing the past two seasons with a knee injury.
“We were very young last season starting four freshmen almost every game,” said Church. “Some games, we started five freshmen, which was a little unheard of in the very challenging ACC. But it was a group that just had to get experience and we had to play them because of injuries. And they’ve learned a great deal. As we’re starting our spring practices, you can see that in the limited amount of time our players have grown a great deal from last fall. So we’re excited about that and are excited about how hard we’re working. We know that we have to get better and we have to use this time from January to August to really get ourselves individually better, stronger and quicker. So if you take that group that is returning and you also mix it with players who are returning from injury, I think we’re going to be very deep next year. I think there’s going to be great competition in preseason in a lot of areas. We’re also looking around and making sure we have the players playing in the right position. We’re moving players around in the springtime, so that when we come back in August we’re going to have great competition. We may see some players who will be playing in completely different areas next season.”