Soccer Introduces 2016 Signing Class

April 7, 2016

FORT WORTH - TCU women's soccer head coach Eric Bell has announced the signing of eight student-athletes for the 2016 season.

“We are excited about the young ladies that are coming into our program,” said Bell. “I think all of them have the ability to impact our team right away. It’s going to continue to make our environment more competitive, which will ultimately make us better. They are a great group of young ladies that will represent us well on and off the field."

The class features a quartet of players from Texas as well as athletes from Oklahoma, New Jersey, Colorado and New Zealand. Representing Texas are Emily Alvarado (El Paso), Sarah Birkner (Plano), Katie Lund (Plano) and Sloane Scharold (Houston). Also heading to TCU will be Tayla Christensen (Hamilton, New Zealand), Courtney Koplyay (Denver, Colo.), Emma Smith (Freehold, N.J.) and Tara Smith (Tulsa, Okla.).

“We’ve been able to make inroads internationally and able to recruit kids with national team experience overseas as well as in the USA,” remarked Bell. “Recruiting is a continual process, and we have added some more global influence in this class. We were able to attract some very good players from around the world that will help us be able to compete for championships.”

Emily Alvarado • GK • El Paso, Texas (Coronado HS/Texas Rush/Mexico U20 National Team)
Currently a member of the Full and U20 Mexico Women’s National Soccer Team… helped the team qualify for the 2016 FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup in… youngest member to represent Mexico in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada… was the starting goalkeeper for Mexico in the 2014 U17 FIFA Women’s World Cup and 2014 CONCACAF U17 World Cup Qualifiers… was the first team ever to win a CONCACAF tournament for Mexico Women’s Soccer… participated in 2011 ID2 National Training Camp… was a member of the Top Drawer Soccer IMG Top 150 of Class of 2016… 2014 EL Paso Athletic Hall of Fame… played club soccer for Texas Rush and head coach Darron Rush out of Houston.

Bell on Alvarado
“She’s a big time goalkeeper coming to us from El Paso and the Texas Rush. Obviously with the national team experience with Mexico, she has the ability to come here and immediately impact our team. I’m looking forward to having her in the mix and competing right away for playing time.”

Sarah Birkner • D • Plano, Texas (Plano West HS/ Dallas Texans ECNL)
Played club soccer for Coach Leo Maric of the Dallas Texans ECNL… helped lead her high school team to district and state championships in 2012-13… repeated as district champions and made it to the state finals a year later… was the Defensive Player of the Year in 2014… competed with the Dallas Texans in the ECNL national playoffs in 2012… ECNL Texas Conference and National Playoff Champions in 2013… squad went on to finish second nationally… made the ECNL National Playoff in 2014.

Bell on Birkner
“It’s nice to have a top local player here at TCU. It’s important that we continue to bring in quality local talent. She’s going to come here and push for playing time on the back line. She’s a very athletic, strong, powerful player. She has very good experience playing for a top club team. She’ll be looking to come here and compete for playing time immediately.”

Tayla Christensen • F • Hamilton, New Zealand (Hillcrest HS/Claudlands Rovers/New Zealand U20 National Team)
Has been member of New Zealand’s U17 Soccer team, participating in the 2012 and 2014 FIFA Women’s World Cup… currently on the New Zealand U20 team… Has been a major part of helping the team qualify for the 2016 FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup… participated in the New Zealand U17 tours in 2012 and 2014… Played her youth career for the Claudlands Rovers.

Bell on Christensen
“She comes to us from New Zealand. Tayla is a young lady who we believe will have a huge impact in our program. She can score goals a lot of different ways. She’s also very athletic and technical. Her national team experience will hopefully allow her to impact the team right away. She’s a wonderful human being and I’m looking forward to her joining the program.”

Courtney Koplyay • D • Denver, Col. (Fossil Ridge HS/Colorado Rush)
Played club for CO Storm and head coach Dave Kunitz… ECNL champions league qualifier 2014, 2015… helped her team make ECNL regional qualifiers in 2013, 2014, 2015… served as the captain of her high school team as a senior… was the only freshman to earn a spot on the varsity squad in 2013… help lead her team to the conference championship in 2013… received the honor of Player of the Game three times in 2014… was the squad’s second-leading scorer with 10 goals as a sophomore… also a standout in the classroom as she is a member of the National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta Math Honor Society, Science National Honor Society and National Technical Honor Society.

Bell on Koplyay
“Courtney comes to us from Colorado. We identified her at one of our camps. She’s an athletic, fast defender that can attack out of the back as well. She’s a very good individual defender, as well. We expect her to compete for playing time right away.”

Katie Lund • GK • Plano, Texas (Ursuline Academy/Dallas Sting)
Was the goalkeeper for the 97 Dallas Sting and head coach Tatu... helped lead her team to the 2014 ECNL National Championship… squad placed third at the 2013 ECNL National Championships… named one Top Drawer Soccer’s Top 11 players (GK) for 2014 National Championship tournament… ranked No. 20 on the 2015 regional rankings… four year varsity letter winner at Ursuline Academy of Dallas… helped lead her team to the TAPPS Div. 1 Championship in 2012, 2013 and 2014… was a member of the 2014 TAPPS All-State Tournament Team… also named to the TAPPS All-State team in 2013 and 2014… is a three-time TAPPS All District performer… also scored 56 goals in her high school career.

Bell on Lund
“Katie is a transfer from Boston College. We initially recruited out of high school and we are very glad she is back in our mix. She’s a good goalkeeper with great size and great hands. She’s very good in the air with a solid kicking game. I expect her to compete for playing time right away. She also comes from a Dallas Sting club that won two national championships. She has a very good pedigree from a goalkeeping standpoint.”

Sloane Scharold • F • Houston, Texas (Kingwood HS/Albion Hurricanes)
Played club soccer for the Albion Hurricanes and head coach Danny Hill… earned first-team all-district and all-region accolades… was named district Player of the Year as a junior… also tabbed second- team all-district as a sophomore… selected as the captain on her high school team… scored 12 goals with seven assists as a sophomore… racked up 23 goals and 16 assists as a junior.

Bell on Scharold
“She is a hard working young lady that we expect to do good things during her four years. We are looking forward to working with her. She has an attacking personality with versatility. I expect to see her play a lot of different positions while she’s here.”

Emma Smith • MF • Freehold, N.J. (Boro HS/PDA Arsenal)
Helped lead her high school team to the division champions in 2013 and 2014… earned all-district, all-division and second-team All-Shore in 2015… won four consecutive ECNL Northeast Metro Championships with PDA (Players Development Academy)… helped her team win the 2015 ECNL U17 National Championship with PDA Arsenal, scoring the only goal of the game.

Bell on Smith
“Emma has very good youth soccer experience. Won a national championship with PDA. She’s currently here already and working hard to impact our team. She’s a hard working kid that will compete for playing time.”

Tara Smith • MF • Tulsa, Okla. (Holland Hall/TSC Hurricanes)
Was a three-year letter winner at Holland Hall… was a two-time all-conference performer… played club soccer for the TSC Hurricanes and head coach Donivan Bradshaw… club team participated in the USYSA Region III semi-finals… the squad was the Oklahoma State Champions and the Premier League West champions in 2012… helped lead her club team to the U15 ENCL Champions League… squad posted a third place finish in the U15 Texas conference… made ECNL All Team in 2012 and ECNL PDP Texas 2014… participated in ID2 National Camp in 2012.

Bell on Smith
“Tara is an attacking personality. She comes to us from the Tulsa Soccer Club. She’s very good running with the ball at players. She has a knack for taking on people in the final third and creating goal-scoring opportunities. I expect her to come here and compete for playing time right away.”


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