GREENVILLE, N.C. – Coming off reaching the AAC Semifinals for the first time since 2014, the ECU women’s soccer team announced the signings of six student-athletes for the 2019 season.
“We are really excited to bring this group in to our program,” said head coach Jason Hamilton. “In our sport, kids are committing two or three years out, so we weren’t sure what we would be able to put together, having arrived just less than a year ago. This class brings some much-needed depth in a few positions. We have a good mix of athleticism, high soccer IQ and goal scoring ability.”
Katie Bjornsen – Defense/Midfield – Ashburn, Va. (Loudoun ECNL)
Katie Bjornsen arrives from Ashburn, Va., where she played with Loudoun ECNL, along with fellow Pirates signee Taylor Kibble. Bjornsen is coming off a junior season where she led Briar Woods High School to a State Championship and collected a bevy of honors, including being named First-Team All-District, All-Conference, All-Region and All-State. It was the second straight year Bjornsen had earned First-Team All-Conference honors, as she also helped Briar Woods win a conference title during her sophomore campaign.
“Naturally left footed, Katie has the ability to play in a couple of different positions in the back line,” Hamilton said. “She has a very good range of passing and is a leader on and off the field. We look forward to watching her develop in our program.”
Alyssa Palmucci – Forward – Mullica Hill, N.J. (PDA ECNL)
Alyssa Palmucci is a product of Mullica Hill, N.J., and spent time competing for the PDA ECNL team. Palmucci was named to the Top Drawer Soccer All-American Watch List in 2018 and was one of NJ.Com’s Top 75 Players in New Jersey. She has won championships at many different levels, including helping Kingsway Regional High School to a pair of Tri-County Championships and PDA ECNL to the 2017 CASL Championship. Palmucci also played for the Philly Fever in the Women’s Premier Soccer League, becoming the youngest player in Fever history to start a game.
“A talented player with high soccer IQ and very good technical abilities,” said Hamilton. “Alyssa has the ability to keep us in possession in the attacking half with her composure on the ball. This is something we lacked at times this past season.”
Mackenzee Blaser – Forward – Newport Beach, Calif. (Slammers ECNL)
Mackenzee Blaser comes to Greenville from Newport Beach, Calif., where she is a member of the Slammers ECNL team. Blaser also spent time in Florida where she won a pair of State Championships at the club level as well as making two appearances in the Regional Tournament. During her junior high school campaign, Blaser was named the best overall offensive player.
“Mackenzee is very athletic and will give us some depth as a wide player,” Hamilton said. “She has the ability to run at players. She moved across the country for her senior year and is playing with one of the top clubs in the country, so we are excited to see how she develops before getting to Greenville.”
Sophia DeMark – Midfield – Belmont, N.C. (Charlotte Soccer Academy)
Sophia DeMark comes from Belmont, N.C., where she played for the Charlotte Soccer Academy. Already in her prep career, DeMark has racked up 58 goals, including 30 during her sophomore season, and has added 37 assists. She has been named to the Big South All-Conference team on three occasions as well as to the Big South All-Region team twice. DeMark has also helped her team win consecutive conference championships.
“A very physical player, Sophia has the ability to adjust to the college game very quickly,” Hamilton commented. “She is also a versatile player that can fill in different roles. We are excited to be keeping local talent in the state of North Carolina.”
Sierra Lowery – Defense – Wake Forest, N.C. (NC Courage DA)
Sierra Lowery travels down the road to Greenville from Wake Forest, N.C., where she was a member of the NC Courage Development Academy. Lowery was ranked among the Top 25 players in the South Atlantic Region in 2017 and helped NC Courage to the 2017-18 Girls Developmental Academy Southeast Division Championship. That title added to her collection as she also helped win the 2015-16 ECNL Chesapeake Division and the 2016-17 ECNL Mid-Atlantic Conference. Lowery also was named All-Conference and All-Region during her sophomore year at Wakefield High School and helped win a conference title.
“A very technical player who likes to attack out of the back,” added Hamilton. “Having our two outside backs lead the team in assists this season, Sierra should transition well in to how we play. She joins two former teammates Addison Salz and Hayleigh Pack from NC Courage Development Academy.”
Taylor Kibble – Forward- Leesburg, Va. (Loudoun ECNL)
Taylor Kibble joins the Pirates from Leesburg, Va., and played for Loudoun ECNL where she was a teammate of fellow signee Katie Bjornsen. Kibble has already scored 84 goals and added 53 assists in her prep career. She is coming off a junior season that saw her tally 51 goals and 26 assists and was named the Conference, Region and State Player of the Year, along with making the First-Team All-Conference, All-Region and All-State. Kibble has helped her team win three straight District Championships and has also claimed a pair of State Championships and one Region title.
“Among other qualities, Taylor does one thing particularly well, score goals!” Hamilton said. “She has the ability to score so many different ways, from distance with either foot, with her head, as well as the ability to get in behind. We are excited to see how she performs at this level.”