Ian Brophy received commitments from throughout the country as he inked eight new faces as part of his second recruiting class in his first full offseason as the Northwestern State head soccer coach.
NSU brings in eight high school players from six different states, ranging from Florida all the way to California.
“One of my missions here was to change a little bit of the recruiting pattern,” Brophy said. “I always knew Texas was going to still be a strong base for us but trying to diversify that and trying to pull some of the best talent from the other parts of the country as well. I think you’ve seen that from both last year and this year’s recruiting classes.”
Brophy brings in two from both Texas (Isabella Queneau, Bailey Porter) and California (Audrey Marfia, Ireland Regan) and one each from Ohio (Marissa Henderson), Virginia (Tiana Cruz), Florida (Sophia Minnillo) and Georgia (Emma Pethel).
In the signings, Brophy brings in versatile players who can play different positions.
“We look at being able to play multiple positions as a real positive,” Brophy said. “When we adapt or change the way we’re playing that they can adapt and change and fit into different roles or responsibilities.”
While he focused on both transfers and freshmen in his first class, all eight of the players in this class come from high school.
One of those is Porter, who can play all around the field, but is primarily an attacker.
Coming from Allen, Texas, Porter joins Taylor and Jessica Spitzer on NSU as Allen natives.
Porter uses her speed to her advantage, as evidenced by also running track for Allen High, competing in the hurdles, long jump, as well as the 4×100 and 4×200 relays.
“Bailey is an exciting player,” Brophy said. “She is one of the first players I recruited when I got here. Her and (current Lady Demon) Dawson (Marrs) were teammates in club. She is going to come in and have an impact right away.”
Queneau, a native of Lucas, Texas, is another player who can play both as an attacker and defender.
“’Q’ is a highly technical player,” Brophy said. “She is going to add a technical trickery to us. She is also a very versatile player. Q is like a jack-of-all-trades with her ability to play multiple positions.”
Her senior season hasn’t started yet, but she was named to the first team all-district in her first three years. As a sophomore, she was named her high school’s defensive MVP and was chosen as newcomer of the year as a freshman.
Cruz, who was named all-district both a sophomore and junior, helping lead Colgan (Virginia) High to a state championship as a junior, scoring the game-winning goal in the championship match.
“She is a super-fast player we are excited about,” Brophy said. “She has a bit more of that sharp quickness and will be a real tricky player on the ball. She is a real goal scorer and scores in big moments, as evidenced by that winning goal.”
She is the first player to play for Lady Demon Soccer from the Old Dominion State since Chandler Monk, who played from 2014-17.
Another player who can both contribute as an attacker and defender is Marissa Henderson. The Ohio native was an honorable mention for GASSCA, helping lead Medina High to the No. 1 ranking in the state and No. 18 in the country. Like Porter, she also was a track standout, using her speed to run the fourth fastest 200m time in school history as a junior.
“Marissa is a burner,” Brophy said. “She is quick. We’re excited about what she can do. She is great as a defender, using her speed to lock people down and is dangerous as a forward in her ability with the ball.”
Brophy aims to continue NSU’s strong defensive tradition by picking up three defenders and a goalkeeper.
Pethel is a four-year varsity player for Creekview (Georgia) High, including being a two-year captain. In the 2022-23 season, she was named all-region honorable mention in the 2022-2023 season by the GHSA 6A, in addition to being voted most valuable player by teammates. She was also named offensive player of the year following the 2020-2021 season.
“Emma is a very good defender,” Brophy said. “She is a real athletic player who has the right attitude, work ethic and mentality and we’re really excited what she can provide to us. It makes our defense that much stronger, adding her to the group.”
Regan competed on the Santa Margarita Catholic High varsity team for three seasons. As a junior, she helped lead her team to a triple crown championship: trinity league, CIF and southern section regional (state) champions. She was named Trinity honorable mention as a sophomore, leading her team to second place finish in the Trinity league.
“Ireland is going to bring a lot in terms of the defensive side of the game,” Brophy said. “She is a great defender and plays for one of the top clubs in the ECNL. She is someone who can come in and be an instant addition to the back line and compete to make a huge impact.”
Minnillo joins a growing list of Floridians, joining six others on the Lady Demons. . She was a four-year varsity performer at Sunlake High, being named offensive player of the year as a freshman.
“She is another strong defender,” Brophy said. “She is another player who can come in and compete right away. She is a really strong defender and we’re excited by her tough defending style. Sophia is a strong defender, similar to what (current Lady Demon) Alina (Graf) is.
At goalkeeper, Marfia joins Regan as Californians who are making the journey to Natchitoches. She was a three-year starter for Willow Glen High, being named team captain as a junior. As a freshman, she made First Team All-League and won Goalkeeper of the Year, helping lead her team to a 11-2-1 mark and second place in the league. She finished the season with nine overall shutouts and just seven goals against, as the team made it into the CIF Central Coast Section 2021 Division II Girls’ Soccer semifinals.
“Audrey will come in and provide instant competition at goalkeeper for us,” Brophy said. “We know we have Libe and a good group overall, but we always want to foster the competition at that position. She is going to come in and make some noise right away.”
The California pair are the first players to compete for NSU from the Golden State since Brittany Caserma from 2015-18.