STORRS, Conn. – UConn head coach Len Tsantiris announced Friday the addition of 13 newcomers to the roster for the upcoming 2016 season. The Huskies will welcome three forwards, six midfielders, two defenseman and two goalkeepers.
"We are very excited by both the depth and quality of our incoming class,” Tsantiris said. “It will never be easy to replace the large group of players that have just graduated but this group has some real individual talent that we hope will make the entire program stronger and deeper. The adjustment to college can be difficult but we have a large group of incoming players working out here this summer which should give them a great foundation for the fall and which demonstrates their commitment and dedication."
The incoming class will join the 18 returning Huskies, including the American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year, Rachel Hill, Midfielder of the Year, Stephanie Ribeiro, and Goalkeeper of the Year, Emily Armstrong.
See below for the full bios of each new Husky along with Tsantiris’ thoughts on each new addition.
Alexa Casimiro | Prospect, Conn. | Woodland Regional HS | M
Before UConn: A four-year varsity letter-winner and two-year team captain for Woodland Regional soccer…earned All-Conference and All-Conference Academic accolades…was named conference MVP…earned Class M All-State distinction…was awarded the 2015 Robert Monnerat Top Senior Award for girls soccer…helped lead her team to the 2015 conference championship and the state quarterfinal…served as a five-year co-captain for the Academica FC club team…four-year ODP player…two-year member of the US Region I ODP team and has competed internationally in Germany, Italy, France and Costa Rica…a member of the National Honor Society and the World Language National Honor Society…finished in the top five percent of her graduating class…also earned two varsity letters for track…a founding member/chapter treasurer of the Woodland DECA program…earned the 2016 1900 Club Scholar Athlete Award and the 2016 U.S. Army Reserve National Scholar Athlete Award.
Personal: Alexa Quinn Casimiro…born in March of 1998…daughter of Paul and Kara Casimiro…has one younger sister, Julia…plans to major in nursing at UConn.
Tsantiris on Casimiro: "A great success with the Olympic Development Program, Alexa is very clean technically and has great vision with the ball. Good at finding the final pass, she is very comfortable with the ball and versatile enough to play in several places on the field."
Anna Cronin | Glastonbury, Conn. | Northwest Catholic HS | D
Before UConn: Earned four varsity letters at Northwest Catholic…a two-time All-Conference honoree…earned both All-State and All-New England accolades…helped her team to two State Championships, once as a freshman and again her senior year…also played for the U.S. Market Training Center.
Personal: Anna Cronin…born in September of 1998…daughter of Garrett and Cheri Cronin…has one younger brother, Matthew…is undecided on a major at UConn.
Tsantiris on Cronin: "Strong and very technical, she has a high soccer IQ and can play in many different places on the field. A hard worker and solid ball winner, she also has the ability to keep the ball after winning it."
Anya Heijst | Oak Hill, Va. | Oakton HS | F
Before UConn: Four-year varsity letter-winner for Oakton soccer…earned first team All-Conference, second team All-Region as a senior…two-time first team All-Conference honoree (2014, 2015)…helped her team earn All-Met Honorable Mention (team regional finalist)…served as her class Vice President 2013-15…State DECA first place winner 2014 and 2015.
Personal: Anya Katarina Heijst…born in February of 1998…daughter of Ben Heijst and Maria Cholakis…has one older brother, Ellis…plans to major in business at UConn.
Tsantiris on Heijst: "Anya is a very quick player that can be very dangerous running at the goal. Explosive first step, we look forward to watching her develop into a consistently dangerous 1v1 player."
Mollie Kerrigan | Fairfield, Conn. | Fairfield Warde HS | GK
Before UConn: A four-year varsity letter-winner at Fairfield Warde…earned All-Conference (FCIAC), All-State, and All-New England honors her junior and senior years…was named defensive MVP…also served as team captain…helped her team to a conference championship as a junior…team finished as runners-up at the state tournament that same year…was named to the 2015 CT Media Girls Soccer All-Star Team…selected to the MSG All-Connecticut Girls Soccer Team in 2014 & 2015…also played for the Connecticut Football Club where she participated in the ECNL Player Development Program in 2015…was awarded the Alan Grapski Award as a senior, in honor of her scholastic achievement, sportsmanship, and leadership.
Personal: Mollie E. Kerrigan…born in September of 1998…daughter of Brendan and Teresa Kerrigan…has two older brothers, Patrick and Brian, and one older sister, Kate…plans to major in finance at UConn.
Tsantiris on Kerrigan: "A great athlete with huge potential, Mollie is still a little raw but is brave and very competitive. She has the mentality that is going to allow her to continue to develop and she has the potential to become a very good collegiate goalkeeper."
Kim Kokkola | New York, N.Y. | Sammon Keskuslukio | M
Before UConn: Attended school at Sammon Keskislukio in Tampere, Finland…played for the Tampereen Ilves and the Kouvolan Sudet club teams...competed in some team camps and games with the Finnish National Team…was named to the All-Star team and advanced to the regional tournament in 2013.
Personal: Kim Elizabeth Kokkola…born in April of 1997…daughter of Pentti Kokkola and Jean Finnerty…has an older sister, Monik, and a younger brother, Lukas…plans to major in Nutrition at UConn.
Tsantiris on Kokkola: "Very clean technically with a very high soccer IQ, a very versatile player that can play a number of positions. She is a good athlete that is very competitive, which will help her adjust quickly to the college game."
Sophia Leone | Bay Shore, N.Y. | Bay Shore HS | M
Before UConn: Earned four varsity letters at Bay Shore for Soccer…three-year team captain…earned All-County honors as a junior and a senior…named MVP her senior year…finished her senior season with 10 goals and eight assists…deemed Player of the Year as a junior…earned All-League accolades both her freshman and sophomore seasons…also earned three varsity letters for lacrosse…earned All-Division honors for lacrosse her junior and senior year…served as team captain for lacrosse as a senior…member of the National Honor Society and high honor student.
Personal: Sofia Belle Leone…born in October of 1998…daughter of Mario and Nicole…has two sisters, Sydney and Lola, and one brother, Antonio…will be an exploratory major at UConn.
Tsantiris on Leone: "Sophia has a very solid technical base and is a good athlete. She has played at a very high level over the past couple years and she comes in ready to compete."
Alana Moore | Oakton, Va. | Oakton HS | M
Before UConn: Earned three varsity letters at Oakton…served as team captain in 2016 and earned first team All-Conference…did not play for her high school team in 2015, but traveled with her club team to Italy and played their National team…earned second team All-Conference in 2014 and All-District honorable mention in 2013…played for both the FC Virginia 97 and the VSA Heat U-19 club teams…went to Nationals with the VSA Heat…was a part of the ECNL player development program in 2015 & 2016…served on a team that won the 2014 ECNL U-16 Mid Atlantic Championship…served as a team Captain for the Herndon Freedom in 2012-13 when the team was Virginia State Champions and Region I Champions…a member of the National Honor Society, Math Honor Society and Art Honor Society.
Personal: Alana Moore…born in February of 1998…daughter of Kevin and Lisbeth Moore…has an older brother, Patrick…plans to major in biology and biomedical engineering at UConn.
Tsantiris on Moore: "Very intelligent and very clean technically, Alana is comfortable in a withdrawn midfield position. She can win the ball and has excellent vision and rarely gives the ball away."
Shay Nakahira | Mililahi, Hawaii | Punahou School | F
Before UConn: A four-year varsity letter-winner at Punahou School in Honolulu…helped her team capture seven consecutive Hawaii State Cup titles, spanning from 2009-2015…was the leading scorer in the fall U.S. Club Soccer Women’s League in 2014…served on the Hawaii State ODP team 2011-13…participated in the ODP Region IV Pool Camp 2012-13…helped her team claim the 2011 Region IV Championship…served as a captain of her high school team her senior year…led her team in scoring in 2014…earned Honolulu Star Advertiser Athlete of the Week after leading the team to the league championship…a two-year member of the National Honors Society…served as Vice President of the Easter Seals Club at Punahou.
Personal: Shay Lee Ann Nakahira…born in October of 1998…daughter of Mark and Sandy Nakahira…has one older brother, Tod…is undecided on a major at UConn.
Tsantiris on Nakahira: "Shay is a great 1v1 player with a great combination of speed and strength. She is very dangerous around the goal. We hope she can be another goal scoring threat for us this fall."
Randi Palacios | Vienna, Va. | James Madison HS | GK
Before UConn: Earned one varsity letter from James Madison High School for soccer…named Student of the Month at James Madison for academics.
Personal: Randi Nicole Palacios…born in October of 1998…daughter of Eric and Cindi Palacios…plans to major in exercise science with a minor in psychology.
Tsantiris on Palascious: "Randi is a big strong goalkeeper that is very good with her feet and is excellent at distributing the ball. She is very brave and outstanding in 1v1 situations. We’re looking forward to watching her develop."
Regan Schiappa | Bedford, N.H. | Bedford HS | D/M
Before UConn: Competed with the Seacoast United club team…helped her club team to ECNL finals…Disney Showcase Champions NEFC with Seacoast…selected to U.S. ODP Region I…participated in N.H. ODP from 2010-15…earned four varsity letters from Bedford…three-time All-State honoree…2015 team captain…2014 team MVP…Division I State Champions in 2013…two-time DECA State Champion…two-time DECA National Champion.
Personal: Regan Schiappa…born in October of 1997…daughter of Dan and Kendrah…has an older sister, who graduated from UConn in 2014, an older brother, AJ, and a younger sister, Tyler…an exploratory major at UConn.
Tsantiris on Schiappa: "Regan is fast and hard with a solid technical base. She is a very good athlete and competitor, not afraid of doing the hard work that all teams need to be successful while also possessing the skill to advance the ball."
Shannon Simmons | Medway, Mass. | Medway HS | D
Before UConn: Earned four varsity letters from Medway…helped the team to three consecutive Tri-Valley State Championships (2013, 2014, 2015)…served as team captain her junior and senior years…was named the 2015 Massachusetts D3 Player of the Year…served on a team that was the South Sectional Champions, D3 Eastern Mass. Champions, and State Finalists all in 2015…two-time All-New England and three-time All-State honoree...received first team Eastern MA All-Star recognition for three consecutive years (2013, ‘14, ‘15)…was named the both team MVP and league MVP in 2014 and 2015…earned Tri-Valley League All Star honors four straight seasons (2012-15)…led the league in scoring in 2013, 2014 and 2015…two-time Boston Globe and Boston Herald All-Scholastic in 2014 and 2015…was the New Balance Hot Shot of the Week for all high school athletes in 2015 (week of Nov. 1)…was named Eastern Mass. Player of the Week in 2015 (week four)…also earned three varsity letters in track…was named Rookie of the Year for track as a freshman and MVP as a junior…a member of the National Honor Society…four-year honor roll student.
Personal: Shannon Danielle Simmons…born in October of 1997…daughter of Richard and Denise Simmons…has an older sister, Stephanie…plans to major in finance at UConn.
Tsantiris on Simmons: "Shannon is steady and solid. She has continued to develop over the past several years and has been better each time we have seen her. She is composed and very good at keeping the ball as a centerback, she also has the athletic ability to be a physical impact."
Erin Spillane | River Vale, N.J. | Immaculate Heart Academy | M
Before UConn: A four-year varsity letter winner at Immaculate Heart…helped her team to back-to-back State Championships (2014, 2015)…served as a captain in 2015…earned All-State honors in 2015…two-time All-County recipient (2014, 2015)…her high school team was ranked No. 1 in the country in 2014…also played for the N.J. Stallions Dynamite club soccer team…four-time N.J. State Cup Champions…U.S. Youth Soccer Region 1 Champions in 2015…USYSA National playoff semifinalist in 2015…served as a captain of her club team since U-11…she received an invite to the U.S. Club Soccer ID2 National ID Program in 2013…three-year honor roll student.
Personal: Erin Nellie Spillane…born in November of 1997…daughter of Michael and Lisa Spillane…has a younger brother, Nolan, and a younger sister, Mary…is considering a major in speech, language and hearing sciences at UConn.
Tsantiris on Spillane: "A very technical and mobile central midfielder, Erin is a great vision with the ball and a hard worker without the ball. She is clean enough technically that she doesn't need to take a lot of touches. She keeps the ball moving and makes good decisions with the ball."
Kristen Vinceguerra | Saddle River, N.J. | Northern Highlands Regional HS | F
Before UConn: Earned two varsity letters at Northern Highlands Regional, having only played for her freshman and sophomore years…as a freshman, earned All-League second team, All-County third team, and All-State third team…helped her team to an undefeated, 24-0 record in 2012…served on a team that was League Champions, Bergen County Champions and NJSIAA Group 3 State Champions in 2012 (her freshman year)…did not play sophomore year due to injury.
Personal: Kristen Marie Vinceguerra…born in April of 1998…daughter of Van and Nancy Vinceguerra…has two older sisters, Rachel and Jaclyn…is undecided on a major at UConn.
Tsantiris on Vinceguerra: "Kristen is fast, strong and a very good 1v1 player. Dangerous running with the ball at the goal, she has a tendency to score big goals in big games."