Blue Raiders ink five to NLIs

MT announces 2014 soccer signing class

February 24, 2014 · @MTAthletics


MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Middle Tennessee soccer team and head coach Aston Rhoden announced the signing of five student-athletes to National Letters of Intent during the signing period.

The five members of the 2014 signing class include two athletes from the state of Tennessee and one international recruit. The Volunteer State products of Alexis Gonzalez and Peyton McCollum hail from Oak Ridge High School in Oak Ridge, Tenn., while Silje Clasby makes her way to Middle Tennessee from Norway. The other two signees are Cameron Cox from Roswell, Ga., and Katherine Thomas from Tacoma, Wash.

"First I would like to thank my assistants, Chris Cahill and Lauren Robertson and our returning players for their assistance in securing this very versatile group of student-athletes," Rhoden said. "With many players returning from the 2013 team, our focus during the recruiting period was to add some versatility to our team and improve the depth of our team in a few places. I believe we accomplished this with our 2014 class."

"All members of this class play multiple positions and are strong students," Rhoden said. "All are fully capable of challenging for starting roles in their respective positions and all are fierce competitors on the field."

Silji Clasby
Forward / Midfielder / 5-6 / Oslo, Norway

Clasby is a keen student on and off the field. She boasts a 4.3 GPA in the classroom and has collected several accolades on the field. She played with Kolbotn IL club from 2010-11 and Valerenga IF from 2011-13, before returning to Kolbotn IL in 2013. In 2013, Kolbotn IL reached the semifinals in the Sprint Jeloy Cup and finished third in the division series. Also in 2013, her high school team Ski VGS earned second-place honors in the high school tournament. During the 2012 season, Valerenga claimed fourth-place in the Junior Interkrets series, which is the top junior division, and reached the playoffs in the Gothia Cup. In 2011, Clasby won the Adidas Cup with the Valerenga G16 team and reached the semifinals in the Norwegian Cup for the U19 team.

"Silje is a very talented and versatile striker," Rhoden said. "She is great in the air and is very efficient in and around the box. Her ability to bring other players into the game will be beneficial in the final third."

Cameron Cox
Midfield / 5-3 / Roswell, Ga.

Cox is known for her dynamic scoring abilities as well as assisting teammates. During her high school career, she has recorded 27 goals to go along with 25 assists. She is a four-year letterwinner at Blessed Trinity, earning AA All-Region honors in 2012. Blessed Trinity won the AA Soccer State Championship in 2011 and earned runner-up nods in 2012 and 2013. She has spent five years with Georgia ODP from 2008-2012.

At the club level, Cox played with the Concorde Fire Soccer Club in Atlanta from 2005-13 and was a member of the club's ECNL teams. During the 2012-13 season, Cox's team qualified for the ECNL Nationals. In 2013-14, her squad won the U18 ECNL Southeastern Conference Championships and went on to qualify for the ECNL National Champions Division, which will take place in Seattle in June of this year. She has also found success in the classroom, making the Honor Roll every semester and being a member of the National Society of High School Scholars.

"Cam is a tireless midfielder, who can play both central and wide position" Rhoden said. "She reads the game extremely well and is as good at creating goals as she is scoring them. Cam's versatility will help us play out of several different attacking schemes."

Alexis Gonzalez
Forward / 5-3 / Oak Ridge, Tenn.

Gonzalez is part of the Oak Ridge tandem with teammate and MT signee Peyton McCollum. She was a four-time All-District team member, second team All-Region selection in 2012 and team captain in 2013, while lettering all four years. Oak Ridge claimed the district championship in 2011 and 2013, while reaching the district finals in 2012.

She has played club soccer with FC Alliance since 2008, under the direction of Josh Gray and Kevin Keck. Gonzalez has been a part of four state tournament teams with FC Alliance. Her club team reached the state finals in 2010, before winning three-straight state titles in 2011, 20012 and 2013. Her club team also claimed the Disney Showcase Championship in 2011 and 2013.

"Alex is a solid forward with many different skills," Rhoden said. "She can hold the ball up and bring others in the game as well as use her vision to get other players into the attack. Alex is a strong shot from outside the box and is often times at the right place at the right time inside the box."

Peyton McCollum
Forward / 5-4 / Oak Ridge, Tenn.

McCollum has been known as a prolific scorer all four years in high school. She has risen to the top of her class, collecting various athletic honors on the way. She has 72 career goals and 21 career assists, ranking sixth all-time at Oak Ridge in goals scored. She was a two-time All-State (2012, 2013), a three-time All-Region (2011-2013) and a four-time All-District selection. She was named to the All-District Freshman Team in 2010 and earned All-District MVP honors in 2013. As a junior, she earned Oak Ridge's Offensive Player of the Year and MVP awards. McCollum collected Rookie of the Year honors after her freshman campaign. She is a two-time PrepXtra Division 1-AAA All-State selection in 2012 and 2013 and was named to the Tennessee Sports Writers Association First Team in 2012.

The Oak Ridge, Tenn., native played club soccer for FC Alliance in Knoxville, Tenn., where she helped the team win the 2014 State Championship and the U18 Girls Disney Showcase. Her club coaches are Josh Gray and Kevin Keck.

"Peyton is the most versatile player in this recruiting class," Rhoden said. "She is quite the athlete and can play anywhere up top and in the midfield. She is strong in the air, is very accurate from distance and has good playmaking abilities. Her versatility will be very beneficial for us."

Katherine Thomas
Defender / 5-4 / Tacoma, Wash.

Thomas is a notorious winner from Washington, finding success everywhere she has played. She was a four-year letter winner at Franklin Pierce High School, where she received honorable mention following her sophomore season and first team All-League honors following her junior and senior campaigns.

At the club level, she played with FPSC Fury '95 from 2007-2011 in Tacoma, Wash., before joining Washington Premier '96 ECNL from 2011-14. She led her team to the U.S. Cup Super Group National Championship in 2011 and the B Flight ECNL National Championship in 2012. Her team finished the 2012-13 season with an overall record of 35-6-6, while winning the 2013 Norwest ECNL Conference Championship. Her club coach is Seth Spidahl.

"Kathy is a very smart and technical defender," Rhoden said. "She is good at getting into the attacker, but is also a solid one-on-one defender. Her ability to play-make from deep positions will allow us to be more effective in the midfield and final thirds."

"We endured some growing pains last year, but I firmly believe it will make us stronger in 2014," Rhoden said. "The 2014 class will play a very important part in our quest for success in Conference USA and the region. I am very excited about our future and can hardly wait to get the team together this summer."

Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter @MTAthletics for continued updates.