FLORENCE, S.C. – Francis Marion University women’s soccer coach Martin Beall has announced the signing of seven freshmen, Margaret-Ann Burrows of Columbia, Gabrielle Byrd of Irmo, Kristi Caldwell of Gaffney, Margaret Fanning of Bluffton, Nina Connell of North Bay, Ontario, Canada, Taylor Jenkins of Frederick, Md., and Rebecca Nelson of New Hyde Park, N.Y.; to national letters of intent to attend FMU and play for the Patriots this fall.
Burrows, a 5-3 center midfielder, is a senior at Cardinal Newman School, where she plays for coach Steve Berzins. The Cardinal are currently 10-4 and ranked second in the state among SCISA schools. She was named the SCISA Player of the Year as a junior in 2006, and was also an All-State, All-Region, and All-Area selection. She was also an All-Area choice in 2005. She played on the state championship squad in 2003, and helped lead Cardinal Newman to second-place finishes in 2002, 2005, and 2006. She has been a part of the South Carolina Olympic Development Program (ODP) for the past five years, and most recently played for the CUFC U18 Elite Girls Team that placed second at the SCYSA State Cup. She has been on the principal’s honor roll.
Byrd, a 5-2 forward, is a senior at Irmo High School, where she plays for coach Mike Mauldin. The Yellow Jackets are currently 12-7 and ranked 13th among AAAA schools. Prior to this year, she attended Dutch Fork High School where she twice earned All-Region honors, was an All-State honoree as a junior, and was named to the “Super 22” Soccer Team. She was a two-time recipient of Dutch Fork’s Academic Achievement Award. She was a teammate of Burrows on the CUFC U18 Elite Girls Team.
Caldwell, a 5-6 forward, is a senior at Gaffney High School, where the Indians are currently 10-8. She has twice gained All-Region honors. Entering her senior year, she had scored 36 career goals. She has been a member of the South Carolina ODP Team, and has played with the Carolina FC squad in Spartanburg.
Fanning, a 5-10 central defender, is a senior at Hilton Head Christian Academy, where she plays for coaches Ernie Suozzi and Ray Craver. The Eagles are currently 8-6 and ranked fourth in the state. Fanning is a four-year letterwinner, a three-time All-Region pick, was selected to play in the 2006 North/South All-Star match, and helped lead HHCA to the state semifinals in 2005 and 2006. She has also played with the Hilton Head-Bluffton Soccer Club. An honor roll student, she is a past recipient of the ACSI Distinguished Christian High School Student for Leadership in Athletics award.
Connell, a 5-3 forward, is a senior at Chippewa Secondary School, where she played for coach (and father) Jim Connell. As a junior, she tallied 18 goals and was named her team’s most valuable player, while leading her team in scoring for the third consecutive year. She was also the top scorer for her Burlington Flash club team with 22 goals in 36 matches. She has been named to the Ontario Provincial Soccer Team each of the past three years. An honor roll student, she will graduate as a Provincial Scholar.
Jenkins, a 5-7 center midfielder, is a senior at Gov. Thomas Johnson High School, where she played for coach Emily Clouser. She was an honorable mention All-State and Washington Post All-Met selection. Each of her last two seasons, she was named first-team All-Area and first-team All-Conference. A four-year starter in high school, she also played for the FC Frederick club team and has participated in the Maryland ODP program. She has earned an academic letter four times and is a member of the National Art Honor Society.
Nelson, a 5-7 center midfielder, is a senior at Herricks High School where she played for coach Lauren Stritzl. She has twice been named to the All-County team. She also played for the Score at Shore team, the NY Magic Super Y squad, the Super Y ODP National Pool, has been part of the New York ODP program, and was a member of the National Maccabi Team that competed at the 2003 Pan American Games in Chile. She earned her school’s Physical Education Scholar Athlete Award in 2006.
“The addition of these seven players will increase our overall strength, athleticism, and speed,” Beall said. “This freshmen class possesses an intense competitive spirit that will have an immediate impact on our growing Division I program. All seven players are also excellent students which will continue our program’s outstanding academic tradition.”
Francis Marion loses three seniors off last season’s 11-5-3 squad that completed its final year of transitioning from NCAA Division II to Division I.