Laurentian Voyageurs women's soccer head coach, Rob Gallo, is happy to announce the commitment of six players for the 2017-18 season.
"We are extremely excited that these six young ladies have committed themselves to our program and Laurentian University," said Gallo. "Each one brings different strengths to our team but all have a love for what Laurentian stands for. They are great, hard-working players, outstanding students, and thoroughly embrace our team philosophy of family. We expect them to join us this fall, immediately contribute to our team on and off the field and help us attain our goals. We are fortunate to enrich our Voyageur family with such a diverse group of young women and personalities with varying backgrounds and experiences. The future is very bright for our program and we know Laurentian will be a better place with these ladies on campus."
Home grown product Lina Audet will be joining the Voyageurs' midfield this season. The Wahnapitae native is finishing up her secondary education at École secondaire Macdonald-Cartier, a team she helped guide to a silver medal finish at 'AAA' NOSSA last season despite being a 'A' school, and will play this summer for the GSSC Impact U-21 team in the Provincial Elite U-21 OWSL league.
When asked about what attracted the midfielder to Laurentian, the chance to represent Sudbury was high on Audet's list. "Laurentian is my hometown university and it's always had a place in my heart," she said. "I also like the coaching style of Coach Gallo and the family environment of the team."
According to the coach, Audet brings the whole package. "Lina is an extremely consistent and smart player, and she does well in the holding midfield position," Gallo noted. "On the field, she is aggressive, strong, technical and a solid one-on-one defender. Off the field, she is a model student-athlete in every sense of the word. She will fit in very well with our group of players and I'm happy that she will be a Voyageur."
Shantae Johnson joins the Voyageurs from Port Perry, ON, where she attended Pine Ridge Secondary School and played her club soccer with the Ajax FC Red 1999 Girls team in the OYSL. This summer Johnson is playing with Darby FC who play in League1 Ontario. An all-around athlete, Johnson competed on her school's hockey, cross country, rugby and soccer teams and played rep hockey growing up.
The future Business Administration student said everything changed when she visited the Nickle City. "I was a bit afraid," said the future defender, "because it is much colder and there is more snow in Sudbury but knew I had to give every school a chance. It was the visit and the program that grabbed me. The program is one of a kind and, when I visited, the team made me feel so welcome it was an experience I had not received from any other school. I knew that was the environment I wanted to be in."
Coach Gallo is looking forward to the versatility Johnson will bring to the lineup. "Shantae is very comfortable intercepting the ball and penetrating on the dribble. Her forward movement makes her dangerous to defend. She is highly competitive and this mentality will continue to push our program forward and will bring a lot of energy and tenacity to our back line. She is a very focused and consistent player. She is an extremely hard worker who is committed to maintaining the high standards at Laurentian," Gallo said.
Heather McGregor hails from Whitby, ON where she attended Donald A. Wilson Secondary School and plays her club soccer with Darlington of the OYSL. The future Nursing student is no stranger to the Nickel City as both of her parents are Laurentian graduates and her brother currently attends Cambrian College.
The goalkeeper felt an immediate fit when visiting Laurentian. "With so many activities available on campus and a stunning location and view, Laurentian stole my heart," said the honour-roll student. "I loved how close the team was as a group and, with coach Gallo's message that 'school comes first and then sport', I knew that Laurentian was the school I wanted to go to and play for."
As for the coach, he thinks McGregor can have an immediate impact. "Heather is a very confident goalkeeper who will be ready to compete with the high-level goalkeepers we already have at Laurentian. She is an excellent communicator with strong technical ability. She has good length in her distribution, which will be key in starting many attacks."
Araya Migwans-Bryan was a teammate of Johnson's in Ajax and will be playing alongside her at Darby FC this summer. The Bowmanville, ON native is an honour-roll student at St. Stephen's Secondary School where she also played volleyball and badminton. Outside of school, Migwans-Bryan currently trains in Muay Thai kickboxing and is a black belt in Taekwondo.
A future Sport Psychology student, Migwans-Bryan says it was a sense of home that was the tipping point in her decision. "When I was first searching for schools I was concerned about distance anywhere I went but, because I have family to support me in Sudbury, Laurentian felt close to home."
She is also excited to be able to pursue her passion while getting an education, commenting, "There has never been a time where I haven't wanted to play soccer so to be able to play while going to school is exciting. I want to be able to make a positive impact with the team on and off the field."
Gallo likes the attitude that Migwans-Bryan brings to the field, saying, "Araya is a tenacious attacker. Her work rate is exceptional. She will give teams trouble with her athleticism, speed and 1v1 mentality. She has a good understanding of when to maintain possession and when to attack the goal. She is a handful in and around the goal and plays box to box. She can play on both sides of the ball and she is a great fit for us on and off the field. Her attitude and approach will enhance the offense."
Alex Perfetti, from Aurora, ON, comes to the Voyageurs from the Aurora United FC program of League1 Ontario and St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic High School. A four-year honour roll student, Perfetti is no stranger to success, having been named the OYSL Champions the past two seasons, Ontario Cup runners-up two of the past three seasons and winning the Quebec-Ontario Cup in October of last year. The future Outdoor Adventure Leadership student also has Voyageurs in her blood as her father, Luciano, played for the Voyageurs and was an OUA All-Star in 1977.
Perfetti had other opportunities but she kept coming back to the blue and gold of the Voyageurs. "Laurentian was always a possibility for me as my dad and my two coaches, Marc and Sue Hamilton, all attended the university. Over the past couple of years I had the opportunity to visit other universities but none of them fit as perfectly as Laurentian. After finding the ADVL program, getting to know the girls and getting a feel for the atmosphere of the school, I was hooked. Coach Gallo and all of the girls made me feel so welcome I knew I was already part of the Voyageurs family.
Gallo is excited about the potential to drop the center back into the lineup. "Alex is going to be an excellent asset for us in the back line," praised Gallo. "One thing that always impresses me when I watch Alex play is her incredible focus and intensity during the game. She is passionate and relentless and is committed to helping her team the entire game. We needed more depth at both the center back and outside back position and know that Alex can contribute at both of these spots I've seen allot of growth in her in the time we have spent recruiting her, and I know the best is yet to come."
Kylie Swain hails from Acton, ON, where she attended Christ the King Secondary School and is currently playing with the Guelph Gryphons Soccer Club of the OYSL. The future Nursing student is looking forward to the opportunity to pursue her two passions in September.
"I am excited for every experience Laurentian has to offer," said the midfielder. "Getting to continue what I love while following my dream career path is amazing. Playing soccer in university has always been a life goal and I am so excited and thankful for this opportunity."
For Gallo, adding Swain's offensive mindset to the line-up will be a big boost, saying, "We really like Kylie's competitiveness and work rate. She is the type of player that will do what is necessary to be successful. She connects passes well and likes to get forward whenever she has the opportunity. She is a young player that will continue to improve in our program. We expect her to compete in the attacking midfield. We are excited to add Kylie to our roster."
The half-dozen future Voyageurs will pull on the blue and gold and begin their post-secondary journey when training camp opens up in August. The 2017 season kicks off on Saturday, August 26th when both the women and men head to Ryerson.