Girls Soccer Top 50 Players Preview: Danielle Stephan of DeWitt is state's bestSoccer  |
DEWITT – The past 12 months have been a whirlwind for Danielle Stephan. Her success on the pitch has open doors she once didn’t think possible.
“I hear things all the time, but until they actually happen, I am a little (skeptical),” Stephan said. “I still can’t believe some of it, though.”
Stephan, a senior at DeWitt High, located north of Lansing, is State Champs’ No. 1-ranked girls soccer player. She is the leading candidate for the 2017 Miss Soccer award, presented to the state’s top player each June by the Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association.
Stephan was selected to the Division 2 All-State first team as a sophomore and last season she was also named the top player in Division 2 and was selected to the 11-member Dream Team by the MHSSCA. Stephan also finished third in the Miss Soccer voting behind two seniors.
Stephan, who signed with Michigan State, had 19 goals and 21 assists last season for a team that finished 20-1-0 and was ranked No. 1 before they lost (2-1) in a regional semifinal to No. 2-ranked Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, which went on to win the state title.
Stephan continues to improve and this past winter Stephan received an invitation to train with the Olympic Developmental Program U-19 National Team. Stephan was one of 26 seniors from around the country, and the only player from Michigan, to be invited to the camp, which took place March 25-April 1 in Sunrise, Fla.
The invitation took Stephan totally by surprise.
“That was so cool. I honestly couldn't believe it when I first was notified,” said Stephan. “And when I got down there it was kind of surreal. Here I am with some of the best players in the country for my age group.
“It took some adjustment because everything there was so much faster, ridiculously fast. You only get a couple of touches on the ball and you have to be able to be moving at a fast pace. But then I was fine. I learned a lot about myself as a player that week.”
Veteran DeWitt coach Jamal Mubarakeh realizes what a special talent he has in Stephan.
“I think she's perhaps the best player in the state,” said Mubarakeh. “You don't always have the pleasure to coach a player like that. She is so skilled. She has great vision, can distribute or she can score goals from 30 yards out. She’s so fast with the ball. And all of the girls look up to her.”
Still, it has been a whirlwind experience for Stephan, who had just hoped to help DeWitt win games three short years ago when she was a freshman. Now she is one of the nation’s best players with a fast-growing impressive resume.
“Everything that has happened…If you would have told me that all of these things would take place I would have been like, I’ll believe it when I see it,” Stephan said. “I still cannot believe it. I am grateful for everything that has happened.”
Stephan is also one of 250 players from across the country, in all grades, on the Top Drawer Soccer All-America watch list. She attributes one of her reasons to a switch on the club circuit which enabled her to play with other highly-recruited players.
Stephan made the move on the club circuit in 2015 from the TNT Dynamite to the nationally-renown Michigan Hawks of the Elite Club National League to further better her game. She has opted to play high school her senior year despite having the option to tour this spring with the Hawks.
Stephan said that she still would like the feeling of playing in a state title game and perhaps finishing up her stellar prep career with a gold medal. DeWitt, a semifinalist in 2015, was ranked No. 4 to open the season. Two of DeWitt’s early-season losses occurred when Stephan was in the national training camp.
“Everyone wants to be good. I am not trying to be arrogant. But everyone works hard to be good,” said Stephan. “I am honored of all the attention I have received lately, training with the national camp and being talked about for Miss Soccer. I have worked hard. But I would really love the chance to try to win a state title. We lost some good players to graduation, but we are still a good team. I think we would really like to make a run and try to win a state title.”
Some of the top talent will have to choose playing high school soccer and club soccer through such leagues as the MRL (Midwest Regional League) or ECNL, or commit to the academy programs much like in the boys for the past six years, a 10-month commitment each year.
Regardless of the forthcoming changes, there is an abundance of talent suiting up for close to 500 girls soccer programs in Michigan. A total of 10 were listed on the Top Drawer Soccer Preseason Top 250 All-America Watchlist.
Below is a detailed chart of most of Michigan’s premier talent, based on information submitted by more than 200 high school and club coaches over the past couple of months.
THE OTHER TOP 10 FIELD PLAYERS
2. BAILEY KOHORN, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central sr. M/F: A three-time All-State player, Kohorn made the Division 1 First Team the past two seasons. The Cincinnati-bound Kohorn is a gifted playmaker and goal scorer for a nationally-ranked program. She is one of five returning Dream Team players this season.
3. CECILIA STEINWASCHER, Utica Ford sr. M: Headed to three-time NCAA Division II national champion Grand Valley State, Steinwascher has followed in both her father’s and older brother’s footsteps by earning Dream Team honors last season. She issolid in all facets of the game.
4. ASHLEY LEONARD, Troy Athens sr. M/F: A marked player, Leonard is a fierce competitor who is always involved in the play. She’s a pure scorer who has improved vastly as a set-up player. Headed for Western Kentucky, Leonard is also a two-time All-State selection who was named to the Dream Team last season.
5. GABRIALA JOZDIS, Utica Eisenhower sr. M: Headed to Michigan State, Jozdis also earned Dream Team status for a team that lost one game. She had 11 goals and 15 assists last year and takes over as the team’s heart and soul this year.
6. RACHEL PHILPOTTS, Flint Powers sr. D/M: One of the state's most versatile players, Philpotts will play center back at Wisconsin-Milwaukee, although she will mostly in the midfield for Powers. She can play any position outside of goalie. She can distribute, defend and score clutch goals. Named Division 3 All-State first team the past two years.
7. EMILY ASHBY, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern jr. D: One of the top 100 juniors in the country, this center back received scholarship offers from around the country and recently committed to Michigan. She is a well-rounded player who can be a set-up player, lock-down defender or finisher. Also plays for Midwest United club team that is a three-time MRL state champion.
8. MICHELLE HERRING, Freeland sr. M/F: A three-time all-state selection, the last two on the Division 3 first team, Herring has been a part of over 70 wins so far and three Final Four teams. She is an explosive scorer for a team seeking its first state title. She has signed with Michigan State.
9. HANNAH LAPKO, Canton sr. F: Another talented pure goal scorer, Lapko is headed to Grand Valley State. She scored 25 goals last season for the Division 1 state runner-up Chiefs and is slated once again for a big year.
10. DARLINE RADAMKER, Utica Ford jr. M: A member of the U-23 National Team, Rademacher missed parts of last season with injuries but is a dynamite force in the middle for one of the state’s top teams. She is the consummate playmaker and controls the tempo of the game.
THE NEXT 35
11. MARIA KASCHALK, Birmingham Marian sr. D: Headed south to Troy University, Kaschalk is as steady as they come in the backfield for a team that reached the Division 2 semifinals. A four-year standout, Kaschalk earned All-State first team status last season.
12. ELLIE DECONINCK, Birmingham Marian sr. F: Another fine player in the Mustangs deep well of college talent, DeConinck will play at Division II power Washington University (MO) next season.
13. EMILY SOLEK, Rochester Hills Stoney Creek sr. M: Still an unsigned player, Solek is a physical force in the central midfield for the defending Division 1 state champs. Named All-State first team last year, she’s the engine that propels Stoney Creek and is the state’s most underrated player. The two-sport star is steal for the college she chooses.
14. KASEY JAMIESON, Lansing Christian jr. F/M: Jamieson has notched 100 goals in her first two season and led the Pilgrims to back-to-back semifinal appearances in Division 4. She committed to Liberty University. Jamieson earned All-State first team honors her first two years and is arguably the top player in Division 4.
15. MADELINE BECKER, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central jr. F: Named All-State second team, this Division I recruit is a force on the offensive end. She’s a clutch goal scorer on the state’s top team and is garnering plenty of Division I college interest.
16. VICTORIA LUCIDO, Auburn Hills Oakland Christian sr. F/D: A defensive player on her ECNL Vardar club team, Lucido spends most of her time in the midfield or at forward at the high school level. Headed to Liberty, she has scored over 100 goals and was named Division 4 All-State first team the past two years.
17. MYA FREGOLI, Romeo jr. M: Romeo has never had a player like Fregoli, who committed to Michigan State before her sophomore season. Ranked as one of the top 150 juniors in the country, the Vardar ECNL player is an ODP Region II player who was invited to the national camp the past two years.
18. ANGELA DAVIS, Trenton sr. M: A dynamic playmaker and a great defensive player in the middle of the field, Davis is adept on set pieces. She is a two-time Division 2 All-State first team selection headed to Grand Valley State.
19. BETSY LUECK, Warren Regina jr. F: Lueck, a fine athletic, earned Division 2 All-State first team honors the past two years and recently committed to Toledo. She possesses great speed and knack for the goal.
20. DAGNY HILL, Detroit Country Day sr. D/M: Earning All-State first team honors as a sophomore and second team as a junior, Hill is a speedy lock-down defender whose stock is rising. She is also a quality attacking player who can finish and versatile enough to play all over the field. Hill’s a three-time Division 2 All-State player.
21. DANI WOLFE, Walled Lake Northern soph. F: Perhaps the prospect in the class of 2019, Wolfe earned Division 1 All-State second team honors as a freshman after scoring 21 goals with 14 assists. She’s in the ODP National Pool for her age group and recently committed to Michigan.
22. ALAINA RICHMOND, Portage Central soph. F: Already committed to Western Michigan, Richmond is ranked amongst the top 100 sophomores in the country. She’s a goal-scoring phenom.
23. RACHEL RASINS, Flint Powers soph. F: A high-level Division I recruit, Rasins earned Division 3 All-State first team honors. She has a knack for the goal and is a tireless worker up top creating chances.
24. MACKENZIE RUEBNER, Macomb Lutheran North jr. F/M: Already committed to Bowling Green, Ruebner provides a unique blend of speed, skill and creativity with the ball that makes her tough to stop. She has collected 39 goals and 28 assists the past two years for a team that reached the Division 3 regional finals last season and landed on the All-State first team as a sophomore.
25. DEVIN JAQUA, Portage Central sr. D: A pair of injuries cut her junior season short list year. Two years ago she was Division 1 All-State second team. She’s a stalwart defender who signed with Michigan State.
26. MORGAN OTTESON, Grand Rapids Northview jr. F: Otteson has quickly gained the reputation of being a high-level scorer up top. Named All-State first team as a sophomore, numerous Division I schools have her high on their radar.
27. EMILY ZEITUNIAN, Dexter sr. F: A breakout year saw Zeitunian scorch the nets for 24 goals and led her team to a Division 2 semifinal. She was All-State first team and earned a spot at Michigan Tech in the fall.
28. GRACE DORAN, Dearborn sr. M: Headed to Mississippi State, Doran is one of the very best to don Dearborn’s orange and white jersey. She’s a well-rounded playmaker who has helped the Pioneers to winning seasons each year. Doran was tabbed Division 1 All-State second team last season.
29. RYIANNE OWUSU, Rochester Adams sr. D: A four-year starter in the backfield, Owusu is lightning quick with great anticipation skills and one of the reasons why Adams has been difficult to score upon in recent years. Headed for Western Michigan, Owusu garnered All-State second team last season.
30. HANNAH BIRD, Saline sr. F/M: This four-year standout gets the job done in the Hornets’ attack and is one of the holdovers from Saline’s 2015 undefeated Division 1 team. She was honored on the All-State second team last season.
31. MORGAN JONES, Saline jr. M: A quality playmaker, Jones took over the leadership role in 2016 after numerous graduation losses from the state title team. Jones was All-State second team status and is best known for her playmaking abilities.
32. AUDREY KOPITZ, Livonia Stevenson jr. F: Quickly on the rise, Kopitz is on an offensive tear with double-digits in goals this season after earning just All-State honorable mention honors in Division 1 last season. She’s a key force in Stevenson’s resurgence.
33. NADIA BURBANK, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep sr. D: One of the most underrated players in the state, Burbank is rock solid as a center back and rarely makes a mistake. She’s still undecided on which college to attend. The anchor of Notre Dame Prep’s defense that was largely responsible for winning a state championship should be higher on the All-State lists this season.
34. MACKENZIE DAWES, DeWitt sr. F/M: Landing on the Division 2 All-State second team, Dawes causes fits for opposing teams due to her tenacious style of play and overall speed. She’s a great set-up player as her 34 assists last season indicates. She signed with Ferris State.
35. ABBY GARDINER, Northville jr. M: Gardiner is new to the high school circuit, spending the past two years with the ECNL’s Michigan Hawks. She’s a meticulous distributor of the ball and can control the pace of the game. She committed to Michigan State.
36. MADISON ENDERLE, Birch Run sr. F: Entering the season with over 100 goals, including 53 as a junior, Enderle has placed her school on the Division 3 soccer map. She’s a pure scorer who has not only rewrote the Birch Run record books, but caught the attention of plenty of college scouts. She has opted to go the small-school route in college, hoping to dominate at the NAIA level for Madonna.
37. REGAN BERG, Paw Paw soph. M/F: Another highly-touted underclassmen from the Class of 2019, Berg rang up 43 goals and landed on the Division 3 All-State first team. A key member of Midwest United’s national championship club team, Berg is slated for stardom.
38. ELAINA ECKERT, Birmingham Marian sr. F: On her way to Marquette, Eckert is one of the many big guns on the Mustangs’ roster that wish to claim the school’s sixth state title. She’s a powerful scoring threat on the attacking third of the field.
39. JANSEN EICHENLAUB, Birmingham Marian jr. M: Committed to Virginia, Eichenlaub has only scratched the surface with her playing ability. She’s a ball-winner, goal scorer and distributor. She earned All-State third team last season.
40. REAGAN WISSER, Richland Gull Lake soph. F: Another highly-touted underclassmen, Wisser burst on the scene last season scoring 20 goals. She earned Division 2 All-State second team and is geared for a big junior season.
41. KATE FACE, Marshall soph. F/M: Face scored 19 goals and was named to the Division 2 All-State second team. The Division I recruit is far from her potential. She is an effective attacking player who can score from long range.
42. KELLI DOYLE, Grand Rapids Christian sr. M/F: Versatile enough to play as a goal-scoring forward or set-up player in the midfield, Doyle garnered All-State second team honors last season.
43. NATALIE BELSITO, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern sr. M: Belsito signed with Central Michigan. She’s an attacking-type player and a proven winner, as many of her Midwest United club teams have captured state cups.
44. JESSAH MCMANUS, DeWitt sr. D: Another underrated player who plays in the back for a high-powered offensive team, McManus still earned All-State second team honors last season.
45. REAGAN COX, Muskegon Mona Shores soph. F: Part of a national championship club team at Midwest United, Cox has caused quite a stir at Mona Shores in the first few weeks of the season as she tallied six goals and seven assists. Cox committed to Arkansas, She draws plenty of attention from the opening kickoff and could be considered for all-state honors.
1. MAIA PEREZ, East Kentwood sr.: An incredible shot-blocker and clutch performer, Perez is one of three instate goalies ranked among the best in the country. She signed with Hartford after earning Division 1 All-State first team honors last season.
2. MADISON CLEM, Williamston sr.: After three years of playing for the ECNL Michigan Hawks, Clem decided to play at the high school level. She signed with Michigan State. Clem is on the Top Drawer Soccer Top 250 watch list.
3. ISABEL NINO, Detroit Country Day sr.: An imposing figure in goal, Nino signed with Michigan. She’s a Division 2 All-State first team selection who is difficult to beat in the goal.
4. AMANDA YOUNG, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern sr.: Young built quite a reputation last season and was brilliant between the pipes in helping her team reach the Division 2 final. Headed to Michigan Tech, she posted 12 shutouts, a .890 save percentage and earned All-State first team accolades.
5. CHRISTINA WYNN, Trenton sr.: Trenton finished with 18 shutouts last season and Wynn was in goal for most them. She makes the saves that she’s supposed to and has the knack for making the acrobatic save as well. Had stellar sub-0.30 GAA as junior. Wynn has yet to decide on what school she will attend.
OTHERS TO WATCH
Forwards — Megan Williams, Northville sr.; Katelyn Varney, Woodhaven sr.; Jennifer Richmond, Canton sr.; Greta DeLoach, Grosse Pointe North jr.; Julie Ann Piechocki, Utica Ford II jr.; Ava Cook, Battle Creek Lakeview sr.; Olivia Elby, North Farmington sr.; Meghan McCord, Brighton jr.; Kennedy Thurlow, Livonia Stevenson jr.; Gabby Gilmore, Rochester jr.; Hannah Crum, Waterford Mott jr.; Morgan Metzger, Grand Blanc jr.; Lily Stephan, D