STORRS, Conn. (April 11, 2008) - University of Connecticut women's soccer head coach Len Tsantiris announced Friday that nine players will join the team for the 2008 season. Shannon Algoe (Lockport, N.Y.), Melissa Busque (St. Bruno, Quebec), Jessica Dulski (Pittsford, N.Y.), Alexandria Garufi (Milton, Mass.), Karen Gurnon (Tolland, Conn.), Heather Kasper (South Huntington, N.Y.), Kelsey Komrij (Santa Rosa, Calif.), Michelle Reynolds (Franklin Square, N.Y.) and Jessica Shufelt (Rochester, N.Y.) will enroll at UConn this coming fall.
The following are biographies and comments on each player:
Shannon Algoe joins UConn with youth experience gained from the Buffalo United Soccer Club. She has served as the team captain for the past six years and in 2006 led the team to a New York State West Under 16 championship. Algoe played with the New York ODP team (2003-06) leading her team to second place in the Ryder Cup tournament in the 2005-06 season. She also played varsity soccer for four years for Williamsville North High School and was named an ECIC Division I Section VI First Team All-Star all four years, All-Western New York first team for three years and to the New York All-State third team in 2007. Also a solid relay runner in indoor track and field, Algoe was part of the 4x400m relay team that won the Section VI Indoor Track All-Western New York Relays, as well as the 4x400m team that won the Section VI Southern Tier Track Classic in 2005.
"Shannon has good defensive and one vs. one abilities," said Tsantiris. "She organizes the defense well and can play as a central or wide defender. Shannon plays with a good club team and on a strong New York ODP team, which will help her coming in."
Algoe on why she chose UConn
"I chose UConn because it has always been my dream to play soccer at a top ranked Division I university. However, it is also important to me that the college have a strong academic history and offer the programs I want. From my first unofficial visit through my official visit, I felt instantly at home with the coaches, the team, the trainers, the staff and the campus. Every time I am on campus, I know in my heart that UConn is the place for me."
Melissa Busque has trained at the Canadian National Training Center since 2004. She participated in the International Games with the Under 15 and Under 17 Canadian National teams and played on team Quebec from 2004-06. She won the Under 16 Canadian National Championship with her club team, FC Select Rive-SUD, in 2005 and was named Quebec's Elite Soccer Conference MVP.
"Melissa is a player who has very good skills and reads the game well," said Tsantiris. "She can play outwide in the midfield or up top. She is a very good attacking player and has the creativity and confidence to take players on."
Busque on why she chose UConn
“UConn has always been my first choice. I was looking for a good business school and a competitive soccer program. I’m very proud to be one of the recruited freshmen this year. Also, UConn isn’t far from home, so my parents, sisters and friends will be able to come to visit and watch our games. I am very happy and excited to be a Husky!”
Jessica Dulski earned All-America honors from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) as well as First Team All-State honors for the state of New York in 2007 for her performance in goal as a senior for Pittsford Mendon High School. As team captain, she led the team to a Section V Class A state title and her team finished second in the overall state tournament. She finished her high school career with 192 saves and a .871 save percentage average. Dulski also comes to UConn with experience gained from playing with the State and Regional ODP teams. Most recently, she participated in a 10 day tour of Brazil with the Region I ODP team.
"Jessica has a lot of experience at the high school, club and regional levels," said Tsantiris. "She is a strong, athletic goalkeeper with good reactions. Jessica has great presence in goal and does well organizing the defense.
Dulski on why she chose UConn
“I chose UConn for the strong academics, the soccer team and for how comfortable and welcome I felt whenever I visited the campus. The coaches, players and students that I met were friendly. I could visualize spending four years with them. With the numerous students involved in athletics, I look forward to being a part of a community which has strong school spirit and pride. I eagerly anticipate going to school with others like me who are driven to do well academically and athletically.”
Alexandria Garufi gained experience playing for the Massachusetts ODP state team. She also spent eight years playing for the Scorpions Soccer Club, twice winning the Division I Massachusetts State Championship. As a senior in 2007 for Notre Dame Academy in Hingham, Mass., she was named team captain, and earned All-State and All-Scholastic honors.
"Alexandra is a player that has a lot of potential," said Tsantiris. "She is a very good athlete and has great pace. Most likely, she will be an attacking player for us and has the potential to develop into a very dangerous player up top."
Karen Gurnon begins her UConn career after being named to the NSCAA All-America team as well as the NSCAA All-New England soccer team in 2007. The only Connecticut native among the nine recruits, the Hartford Courant named her the Connecticut State Girls Soccer Player of the Year in 2007. For her Tolland High School career she scored 33 goals, added 37 assists and served as team captain during her senior year. She played on the Connecticut ODP state team from 2003-05 and is currently playing club soccer for Oakwood SC. Also an accomplished track athlete, Gurnon placed 14th in the 2000m Steeplechase at the National High School Track and Field meet in 2007. She also earned All-New England Indoor Track honors for her performances in the 1000m race in 2007.
"Karen is a local player and we are excited that she decided to stay close to home," said Tsantiris. "She has done very well with her high school and club teams. She has a lot of potential and is a very strong and technical player."
Gurnon on why she chose UConn
“Ever since I can remember I have been watching UConn soccer and the great tradition that goes along with it. It has always been a dream of mine to play on the Connecticut team. When given the chance to play for such a great program and coaching staff I knew this was the university for me. Along with the wonderful athletics, UConn is a nationally recognized academic university as well. I can't wait for the upcoming year here; I think this will be a great experience.”
Heather Kasper joins the Huskies after a spectacular 2007 season in which she scored 21 goals in leading St. Anthony's High School to the NSCHSAA Championship. For her efforts, she was also named to the All-League team. Kasper played club soccer for the East Meadow Dynamites and led them to the 2007 NYS Cup Championship. She also earned MVP honors at the annual East Meadow/Covanta Cup, the largest travel tournament in New York State with over 400 teams participating.
"Heather is a very quick, very feisty forward who works hard," said Tsantiris. "She is a good finisher who creates a lot of problems for the opposing defense."
Kasper on why she chose UConn
“I chose UConn because of the many opportunities presented to me there. Not only is it a great academic institution, but it offers a great athletic program as well. I am looking forward to being a part of this team and to experience the many other advantages this school has to offer me.”
Kelsey Komrij is the lone Connecticut recruit coming from outside of the northeast, as she hails from Santa Rosa, California. She joins UConn with youth experience gained by playing on the Region IV ODP team as well as participating in the Super Y ODP National Camp. She helped her club team, the Santa Rosa United Girls Gold '91, to the 2006 Cal North State Semifinals and the 2007 Cal North State Quarterfinals. In high school playing for Montgomery High, she earned Most Valuable Player honors in 2005, and led the team to a NCS/NBL championship in 2006 and the NBL championship in 2007. In track and field, Komrij was a member of the 2005 state 4x400m relay team. She also qualified for the Meet of Champions in the 800m run in 2005, as well as the 4x400m and 4x100m relays in 2006.
“At the club level, Kelsey has primarily played as an attacking player,” said Tsantiris. At the college level she has the ability to play in the back or up top. She is a good athlete with good pace and skills.”
Komrij on why she chose UConn
“I've lived in California my whole life and I wanted to experience life on the East Coast. I chose UConn because I wanted to go to a school that would challenge me academically and athletically. I knew I would be getting a great education, as well as having the opportunity to be a part of a great soccer team. I would get to play competitive, high-level college soccer, which has always been my dream. UConn has everything I want in a school and a soccer program, and I can't wait to become a Husky.”
Michelle Reynolds comes to UConn with two years youth experience playing for the Eastern New York ODP state team. She also had a spectacular four year career at H. Frank Carey High School. She earned MVP honors all four seasons and finished with five school records, most goals in a game (five), most goals in a season (23), most assists in a season (14), most career goals (84) and most career assists (53). Reynolds is a teammate of fellow recruit Heather Kasper on the 2007 East Meadow Dynamites, and scored the winning goal in the championship game.
"Michelle is a strong player who has had a spectacular career at the high school level," said Tsantiris. "She sees the field well and is good technically. She also the potential to be a defender at the college level."
Reynolds on why she chose UConn
"I chose Connecticut because it’s not too far away from home and yet, it’s not too close either. The atmosphere and campus are great, and I love the people on the team and the coaches. Everybody is welcoming and UConn has great academics, which will help me go far in life. I’m looking forward to the competition and hard work during practices and games. Attending UConn was my first choice, and it will be the best four years of my life.”
The final recruit is Jessica Shufelt. She joins the Huskies with three years of experience on the New York West ODP state team and is a current member of the Region I ODP team. She joined fellow incoming recruit, Jessica Dulski, in Brazil this past March. In 2006, she led the state team to the Finals at the Region I ODP tournament in Kirkwood, Del. She scored 89 goals in her four year varsity career for Greece Arcadia High School, becoming the school’s all-time leading scorer. Shufelt was named First team All-State in 2006, and after leading Arcadia to a state title in 2007, she was named the state's Player of the Year.
"Jessica is a very strong forward," said Tsantiris. "She is a goal scorer and we feel she will do a very good job for us in the attacking part of the field. She can play as a target player up top, but also has the pace and ability to get behind the defense."
Shufelt on why she chose UConn
“I chose to play soccer at UConn because they are the power of the BIG EAST and it has always been my dream to play in the BIG EAST conference. When I visited the campus, I knew right away that the team, coaches, facilities and academic programs are the best. I am excited and can’t wait to be a part of such an outstanding program. I feel that I will benefit tremendously from an UConn experience. Go Huskies!”