Last season was another rough campaign for Rick Stainton and the women’s soccer team, finishing with a 5-11-1 record and a 1-8 record in Big East play. Though the record may not look pretty, it was Stainton’s best season at the helm of the club since being named head coach before the start of the 2014 season. Stainton’s team is young, as it will be losing just five players to graduation, two of which were key members of last season’s squad in defender Cathy Chukuka and midfielder Frankie Maier.
Stainton saw the promise in his young team last season, and he has brought this mindset into the recruiting process. As a result, the women’s soccer team will be bringing in a highly talented 10-player class, highlighted by an All-American and a player with national team experience.
Dani Brinckman is a midfielder from Glastonbury, Conn., who was the top rated high school prospect in her state and the 23rd best prospect in the country. She was named an NSCAA All-American in 2016 and was also named 2016 Connecticut High School Player of the Year to cap off her high school career, in which she won three state championships.
“The first thing that we saw early on was how good she was on the ball,” Stainton said when asked about what he saw from Brinckman in the recruiting process. Stainton also mentioned her versatility, and how he has seen her used at multiple positions out on the pitch.
The other headliner of this recruiting class in Dani Camilleri, a forward from Mississauga, Ontaio. Camilleri has been training with the top level of the Canadian national team since 2014 and won a CONCACAF Gold Medal with the U15 team that same year.
“Danielle is very mobile, technical and savvy. She is deceptive with the ability to beat you on the dribble or pass. She combines and links up the lines up very well,” Stainton said.
“At first, I wasn’t really familiar with Seton Hall University. After I went on a tour of the campus, I fell in love with the school. The small campus, programs and environment had drawn me in,” Camilleri said.
These two, along with the eight other rising freshmen, Emily Caza, Izzy Engel, Atley Fortney, Cassy Harrigan, Alyssa Reszkowski, Emilia Ryjewski, Alyssa Santos and Bianca Tata, who will officially call Seton Hall their home this coming fall, will need to build chemistry quickly, both among themselves and with the current members of the team. However, according to Stainton, that hasn’t been a problem.
“As our program has developed, our returning class has done an incredible job at welcoming not only the prospects, but the families as well,” Stainton said. “Now that they’re all signed, sealed and delivered, we have them on constant group chats and our athletes, on their own, are reaching out to them.”
Stainton also mentioned the visit the recruits made to campus at the end of January and how that helped form bonds between the girls. Camilleri felt this bond firsthand.
“When I got there, myself along with the other recruits were greeted by the team. From there, I was assigned a dorm room, where I stayed with two freshmen on the team, and a recruit,” Camilleri said. “It was so exciting, and I knew from that moment I was going to enjoy attending Seton Hall University.”
If Camilleri’s goals are any indication of the mindset of this recruiting class, Stainton may have found a very special group.
“My goal is to also show dedication, hard work and passion,” Camilleri said.
Matt Ambrose can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @mambrose97.