University of the Fraser Valley women’s soccer coach Rob Giesbrecht has begun the process of reloading his roster for 2016, signing five outstanding B.C. recruits.
Forward Simi Lehal (Surrey), midfielder Brooke Walton (Surrey), defenders Marianne Spring (Abbotsford) and Kelsey Mitchell (Langley), and goalkeeper Brooke Molby (Squamish) are in the midst of their Grade 12 years and will suit up for the Cascades in the fall of 2016.
They join a UFV women’s soccer program which spent a team-record seven weeks in the CIS Top 10 national rankings in 2015, and has appeared at the CIS national championships twice in the past six seasons.
“We’re very excited about this incoming class,” Giesbrecht enthused. “They are athletically gifted, strong competitive players we think will succeed at the Canada West level. And most importantly, their character is an excellent fit for the program we are building. We believe that these five student-athletes will enhance our positive, competitive, team-focused culture.”
5’11” forward, Surrey, B.C.
Fleetwood Park Secondary
Lehal has had an outstanding high school career at Fleetwood Park Secondary. In addition to helping the Dragons win the B.C. AAA provincial soccer championship in 2014, she also starred on the basketball court. She was the junior girls basketball team MVP in Grade 10, and was named the senior team’s top Grade 11 player last season. In club soccer, Lehal plays for Surrey United’s BCSPL team and has won a provincial championship in 2013 and a provincial futsal title in 2012.
“I am so excited to be attending the University of the Fraser Valley and joining the women’s soccer team,” said Lehal, who will study criminology. “They have an unbelievably good team which I am so glad to be a part of. Also, UFV has an amazing academic program for criminology and even better, the small classroom sizes which I prefer.”
“Simi’s a very talented player who has the potential to make an impact immediately,” Giesbrecht said. “She has the physical tools needed to be successful, and she’s well-suited for Canada West. I believe she’s going to thrive in our program.”
5’4” fullback, Langley, B.C.
Walnut Grove Secondary
Mitchell helped her Surrey United club team to a great deal of success in the EA Sports BC Soccer Premier League. Her squad was a BCSPL championship finalist at the U17/U18 level, and earned a national championship berth. Other youth soccer highlights include earning the top defender award at the Vancouver Whitecaps U15 showcase; a BCSPL U14 title and nationals berth; and a BC Summer Games silver medal at the U12 level.
“I chose UFV because I heard great things about the university and the soccer program,” said Mitchell, who will major in psychology at UFV. “I am looking forward to playing for the Cascades and I am excited to start the next chapter of my life with a great group of athletes.”
“Kelsey has a great engine, and she loves to get forward,” Giesbrecht said. “She’s a solid defender, and I think she’ll have a really bright future with us. Kelsey’s competitiveness and character will allow her to succeed at the CIS level.”
5’8” goalkeeper, Squamish, B.C.
Mountain United FC
Molby backstopped her club side to the 2014 B.C. Premier Cup U16 championship, and a subsequent appearance at the U16 national championship in Mount Pearl, Nfld. Her 2015 highlights include winning the Northwest Winter Classic in January, and winning the BCSPL U17 mini-season championship in November.
“In terms of soccer, I chose UFV because of the high level of play that the girls on the team bring to the field, and the constant intensity shown in both on- and off-field training,” Molby said. “My goal during my time with the Cascades is to help the team become No. 1 and have the opportunity to attend the national championships. In terms of academics, as soon as I stepped on the campus of UFV I knew that I wanted to go there; it had a great atmosphere to it. The facilities are fantastic, and the people seem very welcoming. I am especially looking forward to studying psychology and criminology as I plan to use these skills to enhance my future career opportunities.”
“Brooke is a good shot-stopper, she communicates well, and I see a bright future for her,” Giesbrecht said. “She has a lot of very good tools, and we’re really excited Brooke chose to come to UFV.”
5’11” centre back, Abbotsford, B.C.
W.J. Mouat Secondary
Giesbrecht not only had to pry Spring away from other university soccer programs, he also had to contend with basketball and volleyball suitors who pursued the talented multi-sport athlete.
Spring, who excelled on behalf of the Mouat Hawks’ soccer, basketball and volleyball teams, was named her grade’s top female athlete in Grade 9, 10 and 11, and also won multiple team MVP awards during that time. On the soccer pitch, she earned BCSPL player of the week honours in March 2013, and helped her Surrey United club qualify for the 2015 U18 national championships in P.E.I.
“With one of the strongest programs in the country and having played for coach Rob’s U18 BCSPL team at 15 years old, joining the UFV Cascades seemed a natural next step,” said Spring, who will begin her academic career at UFV in general studies, focusing on education, languages and psychology. “When you include the opportunity to play a key role in the Cascades’ march to a national championship over the next few years, I am excited to join the team and do my part.”
“Marianne’s an outstanding athlete and a great person. I believe she’s going to be a dominant centre back at the Canada West level in the future,” Giesbrecht said. “She’s improved so much over the last couple years. She’s going to be a ball-winning centre back who will also be really comfortable on the ball.”
5’7” midfielder, Surrey, B.C.
Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary
Walton had a much-decorated youth soccer career – the Surrey product played on the U13 and U14 provincial teams, and competed at the U14 national championships.
“I chose UFV because I can thrive both athletically and educationally,” said Walton, who plans to study biology at UFV. “My dreams and goals with the Cascades are to receive a good education and create friendships while contributing to the success of the soccer team.”
“Brooke’s technically very sound, and she’s a good competitor,” Giesbrecht said. “I see a lot of potential for her to become a central midfielder who can make an impact with her intelligence and her combative play. She’s got a good mix of that, which is exciting.”