MSU soccer fills in gaps with six-deep recruiting class

Alex Eisen/MDN The Minot State women's soccer team huddles up before a game played last season at Herb Parker Stadium.

Quality over quantity for the Minot State women’s soccer 2018 recruiting class.

The Beavers signed six players Wednesday on National Signing Day to replace seven graduating seniors. Three players join from junior colleges and three are incoming freshmen. All are trying to fill in as the missing pieces of an unfinished puzzle.

“It’s a good class. I’m pretty excited,” MSU coach Jason Spain said. “We have 27 returners, so we were looking for stuff that was very specific to get us over the top and into the second and hopefully third weekend of the NCAA tournament. I think we did that… We got the exact pieces we needed, I think, to accomplish the goals we are looking to accomplish.”

Bolstering the goalkeeping depth behind junior Erin Rafferty are new signings Mackenzie Long from Heritage High School (California) and Minot local Rebecca Kostenko.

Long also played with a top team in the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL), while Kostenko started all 16 games for the Majettes last season as a junior and is a product of the Minot Magic Football Club.

“She’s the top goalkeeper in North Dakota right now,” Spain said about Kostenko. “Garrett Weishaar has done an amazing job training her and I look forward to seeing her improve even more, it’ll be hard for anyone to out-work her.”

Kostenko will reunite with three other Minot High alumnae in Taryn Love, Autumne Haskell and Sofia Lewis. As a true freshman, Lewis led the Beavers in goals (12) and points (29) last season.

Lewis will be getting more support next season with the addition of Cinthya Samaniego, a native of San Luis Rio Colorado, Mexico. Samaniego spent the last two seasons with Arizona Western College.

Last year in 23 games, Samaniego scored 26 goals and had 14 assists to be named a first team NJCAA All-American and was the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference Player of the Year.

“We again think we got the best JUCO striker in America and we want to mix her in there with our one-two punch to create a three-headed monster up top,” Spain said. “You got Haley (Berryman) on the right wing and Sofia (Lewis) on the left wing. We needed someone that could bang in goals from that middle spot.”

In the midfield, the Beavers added depth in Jasmine Basuil from San Joaquin Delta College. She comes in from a program that reached the elite eight last season at the junior college championships.

Last, but not least in solidifying the backline, the Beavers bring in Basuil’s Delta College teammate Erica Dias and Hallie Shippy from Verrado High School (Arizona).

“Erica Dias is a monster who can play all over the field,” Spain said. “She can play pretty much everywhere, but not goalie or center striker. She can play both wings, both wingbacks, center back, holding mid, attacking mid. She is a leader and goes a million mph from practices to games.”

As for Spain’s thoughts on Shippy: “I think she is one of the better freshman we have ever recruited. An ECNL kid who is technically sound, but a cruncher like Haley Lolmaugh was back in the day… We aren’t going to rely on her so much her freshman year, but she will be able to replace one of these 10 seniors that we will have this fall.”

Spain expects more instant production out of the junior college players right away, but said the freshmen could still see playing time next year because of their talent.

“It’s a perfect roster as far as I’m concerned right now,” Spain said. “Thirty-three players and we are rocking.”

Alex Eisen covers Minot High School, Minot State athletics and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.