GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Furman head women's lacrosse coach Rachel Whitten announced today the signing of 11 players to national letters of intent, establishing the inaugural women's lacrosse team at the school.
Furman will begin NCAA Division I intercollegiate competition as a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference in 2014-15. Members of this inaugural class will have four years of eligibility remaining, beginning with the 2014-15 season.
"I am very excited to announce Furman's first lacrosse recruiting class," said Whitten, who was named the head coach of the Paladin program last summer. "Each of these athletes is extremely talented and will have a huge impact on our team. The players come from five different states, which will broaden our style of play and each of theirs. I cannot wait for them to get to campus this fall."
Seven players from Maryland, midfielders Alyssa Cooper (Annapolis, Md.), Paige Gamble (Easton, Md.), Blake Gastley (Wolfsville, Md.), Haley Gray (Edgewater, Md.), and Ashley Trice (Berlin, Md.), defender/midfielder Jenna Stover (Cockeysville, Md.), and defender Sam Eckels (Towson, Md.), are joined in the Paladins' incoming class by midfielder Hope Herline (Brentwood, Tenn.), attacker Kristine Knowles (Toms River, N.J.), defender Nikki O'Reilly (Mount Sinai, N.Y.), and attacker/midfielder Taylor Thene (Wexford, Pa.).
Signee Position Height Hometown High School Club Team
Alyssa Cooper Midfield 5-8 Annapolis, Md. Annapolis CC Lax
Sam Eckels Defense 5-8 Towson, Md. Loch Raven TLC
Paige Gamble Midfield 5-7 Easton, Md. Easton Greene Turtle
Blake Gastley Midfield 5-10 Wolfsville, Md. Middletown Frederick Stars
Haley Gray Midfield 5-5 Edgewater, Md. South River Maryland United
Hope Herline Midfield 5-10 Brentwood, Tenn. Brentwood TNLAX
Kristine Knowles Attack 5-7 Toms River, N.J. Toms River North T-3
Nikki O'Reilly Defense 5-2 Mount Sinai, N.Y. Mount Sinai Long Island Elite
Jenna Stover Def./MF 5-7 Cockeysville, Md. McDonogh Skywalkers Blue
Taylor Thene Attack/MF 5-6 Wexford, Pa. Pine-Richland Intrepid
Ashley Trice Midfield 5-4 Berlin, Md. Stephen Decatur Greene Turtle
Midfield, Annapolis, Md. (Annapolis)
Helped Annapolis to the semifinals of the state championships...competed on the varsity lacrosse team three-consecutive seasons...also a four-year member of the varsity soccer team...earned second-team all-county honors for soccer as a sophomore...played on the varsity basketball team for three years, helping the team to the quarterfinals of the state playoffs...earned the Minds in Motion award three times each year for four consecutive years...a member of the National Honor Society.
Personal: Alyssa Jane Cooper was born on January 15, 1995, in Annapols, Md.….daughter of Phil and Dorna Cooper.
Defense, Towson, Md. (Loch Raven)
Led her Loch Raven team to the finals of the state championships as a freshman and sophomore and to the semifinals as a junior...four-year varsity starter...honored as a GatorFest 2012 Standout...earned the Old Faithful Award as a member of her TLC club team...helped TLC to the Mid-Atlantic Championships in 2010-11...club team won the MD Club Championship, All-American Showcase Championship, and Downingtown Championship...a four-year varsity starter on the soccer team...twice honored as a member of the soccer all-county team...helped soccer team to a state championship as a freshman...earned Scholar Athlete accolades four-consecutive years...a member of the National Honor Society, the Math Honor Society, and the Art Honor Society.
Personal: Samantha Paige Eckels was born on January 6, 1995, in Towson, Md.….daughter of Steve and Tammie Eckels...father, Steve, was a member of the soccer team at James Madison.
Midfield, Easton, Md. (Easton)
Honored as her Easton varsity team's most valuable offensive player as a freshman, sophomore, and junior...named first-team all region in 2011 and 2012...earned co-player of the year accolades her junior season after leading team in goals, assists, points, and draw controls...selected to play in the U.S. Lacrosse National High School Tournament as a freshman, sophomore, and junior...enters her senior season ranked second in the Easton record books in assists, fourth in points and fifth in goals...helped her club team to a Mid-Atlantic Tournament Championship...also competed on the Easton field hockey team, where she was named offensive MVP as a junior and captain as a senior...earned the Scholar Athlete Award.
Personal: Paige Malinda Gamble was born on February 9, 1995, in Salisbury, Md.….daughter of Joe and Mary Gamble...brother, Josh, is the all-time leading scorer in lacrosse at York College of Pennsylvania, and was named team captain and MVP in 2011...brother, Andrew, is currently a freshman on the lacrosse team at York...sister, Allie, earned all-conference honors as a member of the Pfeiffer lacrosse team in 2010...father, Joe, captained the football team at Towson in 1986.
Midfield, Wolfsville, Md. (Middletown)
Helped Middletown to an undefeated regular season and MVAL Antietam Conference Championship in 2010 and to a MVAL Piedmont Conference title in 2011...earned first-team all-conference honors and second-team all-area accolades...led club team to division titles at the Championship Cup and the IWLCA/Under Armour Champions Cup in 2012...captained Middletown's field hockey team as a junior and season...garnered second-team all-area accolades for field hockey...earned the Scholar Athlete Award and citations for academic excellence.
Personal: Blake Gastley was born on April 12, 1995, in Frederick, Md.….daughter of Jeff and Michelle Gastley.
Midfield, Edgewater, Md. (South River)
Led South River to a county championship following an undefeated county season in 2012...scored one goal as a defensive player her junior season...also competed on the school's field hockey team, where she earned second-team all-county honors after scoring 10 goals and three assists as a senior...helped her field hockey team to the Maryland District 5 title as a junior and a state championship as a senior...a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Personal: Haley Gray was born on June 3, 1995, in Annapolis, Md.….daughter of Jeff and Cheryl Gray.
Midfield, Brentwood, Tenn. (Brentwood)
Named most valuable offensive player on the Brentwood varsity team as a freshman, sophomore, and junior after leading the team to the state playoffs each season...named to the TGLA All-State team in 2012 and to the all-region team in 2011 and 2011...earned Academic All-American accolades as a junior...a member of the National FCA High School Team and the Tennessee team at the Women's Divisional National Tournament in 2011 and 2012...competed on the Under Armour Elite South Team in 2012...garnered academic honors as a member of the basketball team...earned Brentwood's Art Award.
Personal: Hope Carol Herline was born on April 20, 1995, in Nashville, Tenn.….daughter of Alan and Carol Herline...father, Alan, earned Academic All-American honors as a punter and placekicker on the Vanderbilt football team then competed for the New England Patriots as a punter during the NFL strike of 1987...mother, Carol, was a four-time All-American swimmer at Vanderbilt...brother, Luke, is a freshman on the lacrosse team at Birmingham Southern.
Attack, Toms River, N.J. (Toms River)
Entered her senior season with 94 career goals scored...named to the New Jersey Group IV first team as a junior...helped her Toms River team to the A-South Championship in 2010 and 2011, posting a combined 30-5 record over the two seasons...also competed on the varsity basketball team as a sophomore, junior, and senior...earned Academic Letters four-consecutive seasons.
Personal: Kristine Knowles was born on February 16, 1995, in Lakewood, N.J….daughter of Rocky and Paula Knowles.
Defense, Mount Sinai, N.Y. (Mount Sinai)
Helped her Mount Sinai team to the Suffolk County, Long Island, and Down State championship in 2011...honored as an Academic All-American her junior year...a member of the National Honor Society.
Personal: Jennifer O'Reilly was born on February 4, 1995, in Mount Sinai, N.Y….daughter of Frank and Elaine O'Reilly.
Defense/Midfield, Cockeysville, Md. (McDonogh)
Competed on the McDonogh lacrosse team that ranked first nationally and posted four-straight undefeated seasons...helped her team to four consecutive state titles...played on the Skywalkers Blue club team for six years and was a member of the FCA National Lacrosse Team...honored with the coaches award as a member of the McDonogh field hockey team.
Personal: Jenna Lee Stover was born on April 26, 1995, in Austin, Texas...daughter of Matt and Debbie Stover...father, Matt, was a kicker in the NFL for 20 years, spending 18 years with the Browns/Ravens organization, then ending his career in Super Bowl XLIV with the Indianapolis Colts...during his NFL career, Stover was a member of two Super Bowl Champion teams and was selected to the Pro Bowl....father has been named to the Baltimore Ravens Ring of Honor and the Louisiana Tech Athletics Hall of Fame.
Attack/Midfield, Wexford, Pa. (Pine-Richland)
Helped Pine-Richland to an 18-4 record and a position among the final eight teams in the hunt for the state championship in 2012...started on the varsity team as a freshman, sophomore, and junior...honored as an Academic All-American...a member of the WDNT women's national team for 2012...competed as a varsity starter on the field hockey team three consecutive seasons...a member of the National Honor Society...involved in Student Government.
Personal: Taylor Thene was born on August 11, 1995, in Little Rock, Ark….daughter of Tony and Holly Thene.
Midfield, Berlin, Md. (Stephen Decatur)
Helped her 2012 U.S. Lacrosse National Team to an Oneida Division title, leading the team in goals scored...honored as a two-time All-Bayside Conference first team selection...led Stephen Decatur to the state semifinals in 2010 and 2011...chosen team MVP three consecutive years...club team won the 2013 Mid Atlantic Lacrosse Tournament...earned volleyball all-conference accolades as a junior and senior...named volleyball team MVP her senior season...a member of the National Honor Society and the Mu Alpha Theta Math Honor Society.
Personal: Ashley Anne Trice was born on November, 25, 1994, in Berlin, Md….daughter of Lee and Andrea Trice.