May 1, 2018
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Virginia field hockey head coach Michele Madison announced that Amber Ezechiels (Nieuw-Vennep, Netherlands), Greer Gill (Virginia Beach, Va.), Taylor Henriksen (Falls Church, Va.), Kelsey McCoy (Virginia Beach, Va.), Annie McDonough (Kennett Square, Pa.), Lizzy Shim (Charlottesville, Va.), Peyton Tollaksen (Chesapeake, Va.), Grace Wallis (Blue Bell, Pa.) and Jacquelyn Wilkins (Louisville, Ky.) will join the Cavaliers for the 2018 season.
The incoming class includes one member of the US Women’s National Indoor Team, three members of the US U19 Indoor Team, four players on the US U19 Junior National Team as well as a member of the Dutch U18 junior national squad. Five of the signees hail from the Commonwealth of Virginia, including a Charlottesville native.
“Looking at this class combined with the returners gets me excited for the future of Virginia field hockey,” said head coach Michele Madison. “With the graduation of the 2017 class that won three ACC championships (two regular-season titles and one tournament championship) and with the infusion of at least these nine players in 2018, the team will definitely sport a new look. We added tremendous depth to the squad. A handful of our incoming players could see immediate action if they prepare themselves to handle the physical demands of UVA’s tempo. I have no doubt they will accept the challenge.”
Amber Ezechiels (Nieuw-Vennep, Netherlands) has been a member of the U16 and U19 Dutch Junior National Teams, playing midfield and defense. She has won two silvers and two golds at the Dutch National Championships as well as helping her U16 squad win gold at the 2016 Three Nations Tournament and the European Championships. A veteran of indoor hockey as well, she won silver in 2015 and gold in 2016 at the Dutch National Indoor Championship.
Madison on Ezechiels: Amber’s game will fit in perfectly with Virginia’s up-tempo attacking style. She is a steady player with an ability to create combination play moving forward. She has travelled many times to America on family trips and has become intrigued with the American culture.
Greer Gill (Virginia Beach, Va.) has been a member of the US U19 Junior National Team for the last two years, competing with the squad in Germany in 2017 and Ireland this year. The midfielder was named the 2017 VISAA Division I Virginia State Player of the Year following her senior season at Norfolk Academy. She was a two-time NFHCA High School First Team All-American, two time NFHCA All-Region and three-time VISAA All-State First Team honoree. Gill anchors the midfield of Virginia’s nationally-ranked club team, TCOYO.
Madison on Gill: Greer has the ability to bolster our attack, which is designed to move the ball quickly upfield. Exceptional vision, sound distribution skills and gritty defense gives Greer an edge over the opponent. [UVA assistant coach] Ole Keusgen, who coached her on the U19 team, has been impressed by Greer’s execution in the short game and the long game even at the international level. She will make an immediate impact in the ACC.
Taylor Henriksen (Falls Church, Va.) is a goalkeeper for the US U19 National Indoor Field Hockey Team. Henriksen is a three-time VISAA First Team All-State selection and Independent School League All-Conference honoree. In her senior season at St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes, she was named to First Team All-Met by the Washington Post after earning second team honors as a junior and an honorable mention as a sophomore. She made 142 saves with 19 goals against for an 88.0 save percentage in 2017 and finished her career at St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes with 354 saves and 38 shutouts. Henriksen also won three varsity letters in track and was a three-time finalist at the VISAA Track State Championships.
Madison on Henriksen: Taylor adds even more talent to a loaded goalkeeping team. She will be mentored by redshirt senior Carrera Lucas, who is also the USA Development Team goalkeeper, as well as rising second year Lauren Hausheer, who is coming off a solid spring season. Taylor is fortunate to have mentors to look up to and learn from. She uses cat-like reflexes to deny shooting opportunities and keep the ball out of the box.
Kelsey McCoy (Virginia Beach, Va.) is a two-time All-Tidewater Second Team back at Cape Henry Collegiate. She was named First Team VISAA All-State her junior and senior season after earning second team honors as a sophomore. The three-time First Team Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools honoree helped lead her squad to the 2017 state championship. She also played lacrosse at Cape Henry Collegiate and was named Second Team Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools in 2017 after helping to lead the team to a runner-up finish at the state championship.
Madison on McCoy: Kelsey is a two-sport athlete who will rely on natural athletic ability and determination to become a strong Cavalier defender. Her game will grow with the challenges of ACC hockey. She adds depth to the backfield.
Annie McDonough (Kennett Square, Pa.) is a midfielder on the US Women’s National Indoor Team and competed at the 2018 Women’s National World Cup in Berlin, Germany in February. The veteran of international competition has also been a member of the USA U17 and U19 indoor junior national teams and is a current member of the US U19 squad after playing on the U17 team in 2016. She also played lacrosse at Unionville High School and is the younger sister of Virginia junior midfielder Izzy McDonough.
Madison on McDonough: Annie sustained and thrived when playing at the Indoor World Cup with the senior national team, playing every minute of every game. Watching the live streams and witnessing her compete against top seasoned veterans in the world, it was amazing how she shut them down with aggressive defense and was able to possess the ball with poise and efficiency out of the backcourt with skills well beyond her young age. Annie has a really bright future at UVA and beyond.
Lizzy Shim (Charlottesville, Va.) is a member of the US U19 National Indoor Team. The midfielder led The Covenant School to the state title in 2016 and was named the All-VISAA Division II Player of the Year. She is a two-time Max Field Hockey All-Region honoree and a four-time All-State and All-League of Independent Schools team member. Shim also played lacrosse at Covenant, earning Second Team All-State honors as a sophomore and first team as a junior. Her father, Dr. Michael Shim, is a Virginia alum and an endowed associate professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine at the UVA medical school.
Madison on Shim: Lizzy Shim is the quintessential workhorse. She just doesn’t quit. She worked relentlessly to develop the skill to become a Division I player. She is diligent in her pursuit, travelling five hours once a week to Pennsylvania to work with technical expert coach Jun Kentwell at the WCE training center. We are excited to welcome Charlottesville’s Shim family to our family. It is a great match for all the right reasons.
Peyton Tollaksen (Chesapeake, Va.) is a midfielder on the US U19 Junior National Team. She is a two-time Group 4A Virginia State Field Hockey Player of the Year and was named the 2018 Chesapeake Female Athlete of the Year. The Max Preps All-American is a three-time First Team All-Tidewater honoree and the 2016 Tidewater Player of the Year and was named the All-Southeastern Field Hockey District Player of the Year. Tollaksen holds the career record for goals scored at Great Bridge High School with 148 and set a Virginia High School League state scoring record her junior season with 53 goals and 17 assists. She also ran indoor and outdoor track at GBHS, earning All-State honors as a sophomore during indoor season.
Madison on Tollaksen: Peyton will wear number 21 at Virginia, the former number of UVA’s four-time time All-American and Team USA veteran Olympian Paige Selenski. This is special because Peyton’s goal as a young player was to follow in Paige’s footsteps. Peyton has certainly worked towards that goal. She has grown in every aspect of the game. Every summer at camp, she would ask to learn a new skill and the next year she would come back show how she mastered that skill and would ask for another. Being selected to the U19 team last January was another step in the direction of her dream. She is typically a forward with a powerful backhand, but was chosen as a defender for the U19’s. Her flexibility will add needed depth to our roster. I know Peyton will continue to work and excel to become the best player she can be.
Grace Wallis (Blue Bell, Pa.) is a midfielder on the US U19 Junior National team. Wallis is a three-time Pennsylvania All-State selection and was a 2017 Max Field Hockey Second Team All-American and First Team All-Region selection. As a striker, she helped lead Mount Saint Joseph Academy to a second-place finish in District 1 in both 2017 and 2016 and a co-championship of the league in 2016. In her senior season at MSJA, she led the team with 58 points on 18 goals with 22 assists. Wallis was a three-year varsity letter winner in track, competing as a sprinter and a jumper, finishing in second place at the 2017 league championships with a PR of 16′ 9″ in the long jump and was named a league All-Star in track in 2017 and has run in the Penn Relays as part of the 4×100 team five times.
Madison on Wallis: Grace is a super-fast, skilled striker who passionately puts in the work. Her game will explode in our up-tempo system designed to attack open space with speed. Unassuming as she may seem, when the jets are on, it will be difficult to defend her as she sets her sights on ACC competition.
Jacquelyn Wilkins (Louisville, Ky.) is the 2017 KFHCA Kentucky Miss Field Hockey and MAX Field Hockey State Player of the Year, also earning NFHCA First Team All-America honors. The three-time All-State midfielder finished her career as the Christian Academy of Louisville’s all-time leading scorer with 77 goals and 75 assists and helped lead her school to winning the state title in 2017.
Madison on Wilkins: “Jax” is dangerous in front of the goal, but she can also dish the ball off to a teammate in better position. Graduating as her high school’s all-time leading scorer, with as many assists as goals, she is an opportunistic and promising attacker which bodes well for an early appearance in our rotations. Jax’s powerful shots could cause havoc on the blue turf and beyond. She will definitely add needed fire power in the circle.
“It’s a guessing game as to how early commitments will prosper and since most of this class committed in 2015, the ball was in their court,” Madison said. “I never promise playing time to any recruit, so when they verbal, I make sure they know if I was picking a line-up on that day, they would not be in the line-up. I let them know the coaching staff accepts the verbal because we believe they have the potential to be good enough to be in the line-up but they will need 2-3 years to close that gap. On paper, this class shows remarkable growth from that day in 2015. This is [assistant coach and recruiting coordinator] Ole Keusgen’s first recruiting class and I know for sure he can’t wait to get them on the blue turf.”