Monmouth women add seven players for 2016

April 7, 2016

Monmouth University head women's soccer coach Krissy Turner announced the addition of seven players to the Hawks program this fall, including five from the Garden State. Joining the program are New Jersey products Deanna Graziani (Succasunna, NJ/Roxbury), Jessica Johnson (Howell, NJ/The Hun School), Anna Lazur (East Hanover, NJ/Hanover Park) Esther Wellman (Randolph, NJ/Randolph) and Gabriella Cuevas (Wayne, NJ/Immaculate Heart Academy [UConn]), while Amanda Knaub (Enola, PA/Trinity) from Pennsylvania and Dana Scheriff (Babylon, NY/Babylon) will also don the Blue & White in 2016.

“This is one of our deepest and most talented classes we have recruited in the past several years,” stated Turner, who has guided the Hawks to three straight Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference regular season championships. “They will fill important positional needs we have and all are expected to make a difference in our program.”

These seven players join VCU transfer Christina Ballaco (Red Bank, NJ/Red Bank Catholic) as newcomers to the program. Ballaco enrolled at Monmouth for the Spring 2016 semester.

Turner, who enters her 19th season as the head coach at Monmouth added, “They all have played in extremely competitive environments on a daily basis which will help prepare them for the upcoming challenges. From a student perspective the success each of them has had in the classroom is outstanding. We are excited to bring in such a talented group of student-athletes and look forward to them wearing the Monmouth jersey.”

Graziani, a four-year varsity letterwinner as a center back at Roxbury High School, helped lead the Gaels to a pair of state sectional championships and Morris County titles during her tenure. Roxbury also posted an 18-3-1 record during her junior season, which led the school to a No. 5 state ranking at the end of the year. The 2015 Morris County Tournament MVP, Graziani was named Daily Record First Team and first team all-conference, as well as second team all-state. The 2015 Eastern Propane/Mugs Media Girls Soccer Player of the Year, Graziani notched seven goals and an assist from her defensive position while at Roxbury, where she was named the 2012 Freshman Athlete of the Year. In addition, Graziani was a three-year varsity letterwinner in winter/spring track where she was a member of two county championship squads and two state sectional championship teams and won the Morris County Relay Championship in 2014 and 2015. Graziani has played club ball with Match Fit ECNL.

Turner said, "Deanna is a terrific athlete with an attacking mindset. She will be an excellent addition to our back line with her pace and ability to win battles in the air."

A team captain at the Hun School, Johnson helped guide the Raiders to the Prep “A” State Championship game twice, claiming the title in 2014. A center back, Johnson was twice given the Mercer 33 Award in 2013 and 2015, when she was also invited to the Senior All-Star Game. A three-time All-Prep First Team player, she was a member of the Regional ODP team in 2015 that won International Tournament Championship. A NJ State and Regional ODP player, Johnson was a 2014 Jefferson Cup Champion, a 2013 Bethesda Tournament Champion and the MVP of the ASL Triangle Tournament and a 2012 Regional and National US Club Champion. Also a varsity point guard in basketball, Johnson played club ball with Match Fit ECNL.

Turner noted, “Jess is extremely composed as a center back or center midfield. Her confidence on the ball is a great asset and she will be an excellent distributor."

A two-sport standout at Hanover Park High School, Lazur was a four-year varsity letterwinner in both soccer and track and field for the Hornets. On the soccer field, Lazur contributed 17 goals and 11 assists during her career, while Hanover Park won the sectional state title in 2014. Lazur, who also played club ball with Match Fit ECNL, was named first team all-conference and to the all-county team as a senior as well second team all-conference in 2013 and 2014. As a member of the track and field squad, Lazur was a three-time first team all-conference honoree and claimed eighth place at the 2015 Meet of Champions in the 400 hurdles. Named to the 2015 All-Morris County Team, she is the school’s record-holder in the 400 hurdles and 400 meter dash.

“Anna is very fast and quick with a strong work ethic,” said Turner. “She will challenge our returning core of forwards from the moment she arrives on campus.”

A two-time team captain for Randolph High School, Wellman was a four-year varsity letterwinner for the Rams, helping lead the squad to three conference championships and a pair of county titles. As a junior, Wellman helped lead Randolph to its second straight sweep of the conference and county championships with an overall record of 19-2-1 and was named first team all-conference, all-county and all-state. Wellman, a Match Fit ECNL member, registered 18 goals and 18 assists during her prep career, where she also earned varsity letters in track and field.

Turner stated, “Esther will compete for minutes early on in her career in the center midfield, as her distribution and technical ability are two of her best attributes.”

Cuevas was a four-year member of the UConn women’s soccer team who will use her final year of eligibility to bolster Monmouth’s defensive unit. Throughout her career with the Huskies, Cuevas played in 38 matches, including 30 starts, and was in the starting 11 for every game of her sophomore season.  A 2011 graduate of Immaculate Heart Academy, Cuevas was an ESPN Rise First Team All-American and a member of the 2010 U.S. National Team Player Pool. A three-time All-State selection, she was named to the Bergen County All-Decade Team after helping IHA to four county titles. Cuevas was also an honor roll student and is set to graduate from UConn with a degree in Human Development & Family Studies and Psychology.

“Gabby will bring a wealth of experience to our program after her five-year career at UConn. We are excited to have her leadership, skill set and competitive drive.”

A two-sport star at Trinity High School, Knaub helped lead the Shamrocks to an overall record of 89-8-4 during her four varisty seasons, winning two PIAA-A state championships, three District 3 titles and three Mid-Penn Capital Division championships. In her four-year career at Trinity, the goalkeeper allowed just 19 goals, recording 45 shutouts and making 198 saves. A team captain as a senior, Knaub was named a 2015 Penn Live All-Star, and was honored as First Team All-Sentinal as well as a Mid-Penn Conference All-Star both as a junior and senior. A three-year captain of her Hershey SC club team, she led the Hershey Rush Club side to the 2015 EYPSA State Cup finals and a No. 5 ranking in Pennsylvania. A two-time all-state and all-conference selection at first base, Knaub holds the Trinity school records for career hits (117), home runs (10), RBI (99) and batting average (.646) through her junior campaign. Knaub, who also earned a varsity letter in basketball, also holds the school’s single-season records for hits, home runs, RBI and average.

“Amanda has excellent size and tremendous hands. She has played in a winning program and expects to make the save in big moments.”

The first North Babylon girls soccer player to start all four years on varsity, Scheriff was named all-league, all-conference, all-county, All-Long Island and all-state as a senior, as well as the MVP of the league and Suffolk County Player of the Year. Scheriff set a school-record with her 23 goals as a junior, which included eight game-winners, and finished her career with 38 goals, to rank third all-time with the Bulldogs. Scheriff, who also added 20 assists during her prep career, competed on the club level for Brentwood SC.

Turner noted, “Dana is very good in 1-v-1 situations and loves to go to goal. She will compliment her teammates well in the attacking part of the field.”

Monmouth, which won its third straight MAAC Regular Season Championship, registered its 10th straight season with a double-digit win total, finishing the year with a 13-3-2 overall record. In 2015, for the fifth time in program history, Monmouth had five players named first team all-conference, while the Hawks placed a total of nine players on All-MAAC teams. Monmouth, which earned its 18th straight NSCAA Team Academic Award, is 26-2-2 overall in conference action in its three seasons in the MAAC.

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