Six student-athletes signed national letters of intent Wednesday to play soccer at Oklahoma State University.
The Cowgirls inked four of the top high school players in Texas and also signed a pair of prep stars from Oklahoma. Five of the OSU signees are ranked among the top 150 recruits nationally in 2013. The class is ranked No. 8 nationally by TopDrawerSoccer.com.
"Awards and accolades wise, this is probably the most decorated group we've ever brought in," said head coach Colin Carmichael. "All of these kids were recruited when we were making our Elite Eight runs so they want to come here and compete at a very high level and compete for Big 12 Conference and national championships.
"As a group, this is a really athletic class. We've added some aggression, some physical presence and some speed, which are some things we were lacking last fall. We think this group will help get us back to where we were the last several years. It's very exciting for the program moving forward."
The following is a breakdown of OSU's signees.
Natalie Calhoun, D, Sachse, Texas (Sachse HS/Sting 95) – A member of the U.S. U-17 National Team, Calhoun has starred for coach Kenny Medina's Sting '95 team since 2004, helping that club to four North Texas State Cup championships, two USYS national championships (2010-11) and an ECNL national title (2010). At Sachse High School, she has earned first-team all-district honors four times.
Calhoun is ranked No. 52 nationally on the TopDrawerSoccer.com Girls IMG Academy 150 and is considered the fourth-best recruit in Texas. She is also listed No. 9 nationally among defenders.
On the ESPNHS 150 College Prospects list for the Class of 2013, Calhoun is No. 148.
Carmichael on Calhoun: "Natalie is a very athletic, very aggressive center back that's coming out of one of the best club teams in the country. She reads the game well, and she's very, very fast – it's not often you see anyone run past her. She's going to fill a need that we have after losing (Melinda) Mercado and (Carson) Michalowski over the last two years. We think Natalie can step in right away and make our back line more mobile, more athletic and quicker."
Courtney Dike, F, Edmond, Okla. (North HS/OFC 95) – Dike stars for OFC '95 and coach Zenati Al Zenati and has helped lead the club to five Oklahoma state semifinals appearances. In 2012, she was a member of the OFC '94 squad that won an Oklahoma state championship, and she scored six goals in the Region III tournament to help OFC reach the finals.
At Edmond North High School, Dike has recorded 76 goals and 27 assists in her career and is a three-time all-conference and all-district performer. She led the Huskies to Class 6A state championships in 2010 and 2011, recording the game-winning goal in the '10 title game and notching two goals and an assist in the '11 final.
In 2012, Dike was a Gatorade Oklahoma Player of the Year finalist after racking up 24 goals and 14 assists, which came on the heels of her earning All-City Player of the Year honors after a sophomore campaign that saw her post 28 goals and seven assists.
Dike's older brother, Bright, plays for the Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer and is a member of the Nigerian National Team.
Carmichael on Dike: "Courtney is one of the best players in the state of Oklahoma. She's a very physical forward who scores a ton of goals. She's good in the air and very, very fast with the ability to get in behind defenses. She's a little bit under the radar but having seen her play many times, we expect Courtney to make a huge impact for us."
Ashton Hierholzer, GK, Heath, Texas (Rockwall-Heath HS/Dallas Texans 95) – A member of the Region III ODP pool, Hierholzer stars for coach Sean Bubb's Dallas Texans '95 and helped lead that team to a third-place finish in the 2010 and 2011 USYS National Championships as well as ECNL Texas Conference titles in 2011 and 2012.
A four-year starter at Rockwall-Heath High School, she earned all-district honors three times (2010-12) and was the district's defensive player of the year in 2011 and 2012.
Hierholzer is ranked No. 93 nationally on the TopDrawerSoccer.com Girls IMG Academy 150 and is considered the 13th-best recruit in Texas. She is also listed No. 7 nationally among goalies.
On the ESPNHS 150 College Prospects list for the Class of 2013, Hierholzer is No. 108.
Carmichael on Hierholzer: "Ashton is a tall, athletic kid who really looks the part and can make some very athletic saves. She'll compete with Rosa (Medina) right away for the starting goalkeeper spot. She has the physical tools to develop into a really good goalkeeper."
Krissi Killion, F, Broken Arrow, Okla. (Broken Arrow HS/TSC Hurricane 95) – A three-year member of the Region III ODP team, Killion has also starred for TSC Hurricane '95 and coach Kerry Shubert for eight years. In 2011-12, she was the top goal scorer in the U-17 ECNL with 18 goals, and she also added 15 assists.
In 2012, Killion was selected to the elite ECNL/Nike National ID Camp in Beaverton, Ore., and she was named to the Best 11 all-star team at the 2011 USYS National Championships.
At Broken Arrow High School, Killion was named to the All-Metro first team in 2011 and was a Gatorade Oklahoma Player of the Year nominee in 2011 and 2012.
The top-ranked recruit in the Cowgirls' 2013 class, Killion checks in at No. 14 nationally on the TopDrawerSoccer.com Girls IMG Academy 150 and is considered the best recruit in the South region. She is also listed No. 4 nationally among forwards.
Killion is No. 35 on the ESPNHS 150 College Prospects list for the Class of 2013.
Carmichael on Killion: "Krissi is one of the best forwards in the country in this age group. Every time we watch her play in high-level games, she scores goals. She's a competitor – she scraps, she fights, she's aggressive. Her and (Courtney) Dike coming in at forward should add to our firepower immediately."
Niki McKnight, MF/D/F, Rockwall, Texas (Rockwall HS/Sting 95) – A member of the U.S. U-17 Women's National Team and the Region III ODP squad, McKnight was also selected to the elite ECNL/Nike National ID Camp in Beaverton, Ore., in 2012. She has starred for Sting '95 and coach Kenny Medina since 2005 and helped lead that squad to back-to-back USYS national championships in 2010 and 2011 and an ECNL national title in 2010.
A 2012 Gatorade Texas Player of the Year nominee at Rockwall High School, McKnight helped her team to the Region II quarterfinals in 2011 and 2011 and led her team in goals and assists both seasons.
McKnight is ranked No. 94 nationally on the TopDrawerSoccer.com Girls IMG Academy 150 and is considered the 14th-best recruit in Texas. She is also listed No. 37 nationally among midfielders.
McKnight is No. 37 on the ESPNHS 150 College Prospects list for the Class of 2013.
Carmichael on McKnight: "Niki is a great athlete and really good soccer player. What stands out the most is she can play just about anywhere on the field at a very high level. We've seen her play forward, we've seen her play right back and center back, we've seen her in the midfield, and she does them all equally well. There's a lot of different places we can play Niki on the field, and she would make an impactat all of them."
Joanna Robertson, MF, Klein, Texas (Klein Collins HS/Challenge 95) – A member of the Region III ODP team from 2009-11 and the ODP State team from 2008-11, Robertson stars for Challenge '95 and has led coach Pat O'Toole's club to three state championships in nine years.
Robertson is ranked No. 61 nationally on the TopDrawerSoccer.com Girls IMG Academy 150 and is considered the fifth-best recruit in Texas. She is also listed No. 21 nationally among midfielders.
Robertson is No. 72 on the ESPNHS 150 College Prospects list for the Class of 2013.
Carmichael on Robertson: "Joanna is a very combative player who covers a lot of ground and never seems to get tired. She's a tireless worked. She's a very good possession player, which really suits our style of play. She has the ability because of her work ethic and endurance to step into our midfield and make us better right away."
2013 Oklahoma State Soccer Signees
Name Position Hometown (Previous School) Club Team
Natalie Calhoun D Sachse, Texas (Sachse HS) Sting 95
Courtney Dike F Edmond, Okla. (North HS) OFC 95
Ashton Hierholzer GK Heath, Texas (Rockwall-Heath HS) Dallas Texans 95
Krissi Killion F Broken Arrow, Okla. (Broken Arrow HS) TSC Hurricane 95
Niki McKnight MF/D/F Rockwall, Texas (Rockwall HS) Sting 95
Joanna Robertson MF Spring,Texas (Klein Collins HS) Challenge 95