Maintaining a strong culture at Northwestern State was a huge priority in the first recruiting class for new head coach Ian Brophy.
Brophy, who was chosen to lead NSU in February, signed seven in the first half of his first recruiting class.
“I want to build a strong culture here and a team that will fight for each other, but also a quality group of people that the community and people who come to our games can get behind,” Brophy said.
“The exciting part is that this is a really good core for the team to be built the way we want it to be built, bringing in the type of athletes we want and the type of people that we want. Overall, it’s been a good driver of the culture and driver of what we’re looking to accomplish this fall. This class is going to be a huge part of that.”
Among the seven, he brings in three defenders, three midfielders and a forward.
The midfielders who have been brought in are Julia Pinho Magno, Emily Gundin and Laura Stepniak.
Pinho Magno won the offensive player of the year in her final season at Lakewood Ranch (Florida) High, scoring 50 points, leading her high school to an undefeated season, where they were district champions and regional finalists.
“We are really excited about Julia,” Brophy said. “She was my first commit, so she was the first one to believe in the process here. Julia is originally from Brazil but grew up playing in the state. She will bring a bit of the Brazilian flare and creativity.”
Stepniak was the youngest player in Women’s Premier Soccer League history when she debuted as a freshman.
“Laura had opportunities to play abroad,” Brophy said. “We got lucky in the sense that she saw the value in coming here and furthering herself athletically and academically.”
Gundin was a star for Bloomingdale (Florida) High, playing all four years on varsity. She was named MVP and first team all-conference, as well as given the Golden Boot award as a junior and senior, leading her team to district championships.
“Emily brings something a little bit different as she plays more of a defensive midfield,” Brophy said. “She can play forward as well, but what she brings is a high-end technically ability. She has really good passing range and the ability to float the ball into forwards making runs.”
Aiming to maintain a strong tradition on the back line, Brophy brings in three transfer defenders: Alina Graf, Kylie Morris and Annie Stook.
While at St. Francis Brooklyn, Graf was a team captain for two seasons. She was a part of a defense that held opponents to one or fewer goals on eight occasions in 2022.
Morris played in eight games in her two seasons at Wofford, including seven in 2022, starting five. She recorded a point on an assist late in a tie against UNC Asheville.
Stook is a transfer from Eckerd College, where she scored three goals in 2022, tied for the second most on the team, despite being a part of the back line.
“We’ve brought in some really good players on defense who can keep the NSU tradition alive of having solid defense.”
The Lady Demons also bring in freshman Emily Senatore as a forward, who was selected to the US National futsal team three times. As a junior, she was the top goal scorer and had the most assists on her team.
“I am really excited by Emily. She had some injuries late in her high school career that kind of hurt her when it came to getting college offers. With her technical ability, she can play both forward and midfield or any of the attack positions. She can come in and make an instant impact.”
NSU aims for its fifth consecutive winning season when it starts the season in August, four of which finished in the top two in the regular season.