Story by Alyssa Crum
After kicking off his first season with an OVC Championship—the second straight for the Racers—Head Coach Matt Lodge will bring in his second recruiting class for the 2019 season.
The Racers lost five seniors from last year’s team, including four starters—senior goalkeeper Alex Steigerwald, senior midfielder Caroline Ashton, senior forward Cori Cain and senior forward Katie Brooks.
Coming into the Racers’ program is a nine-freshman class that consists of Grace Bodker, Tori Bonno, Carlee Crafton, Parker Greer, Maddie Griggs, Gillian Nithang, Lauren Payne, Lilly Strader and Jenna Villacres.
Bodker is from Sunbury, Ohio, and came from Big Walnut High School. Bodker competed in the Classic Eagles Red FC club team, won a state championship with Villacres and sophomore forward Abby Jones in high school and was awarded 2018 Top Drawer Soccer All-American Watch List honors.
Bonno is from Mason, Ohio, and came from William Mason High School. Bonno joined the soccer team after her senior year at WMHS as the captain of the Comets. Bonno competed in the Greater Miami Conference and earned five goals and nine assists for 19 total points in 2018. Bonno earned First Team All-GMC but also First Team All-Southwest Ohio honors for her performance.
Crafton is from Henderson, Kentucky, and came from Henderson County High School. Crafton is another in a line of relatives to become a Racer as her grandfather and two uncles before her were Racers. Crafton led her team, the Indiana Fire Junior South Club team, to several championships, including one championship win in 2016, the Midwest Regional League Championship in 2016, the Indiana State Cup Championship as well as the MRL Championship in 2017.
Greer is a native from Murray, Kentucky, and came from Murray High School. The incoming forward led Tigers to a 66-26-2 record during her four years at Murray High. In her senior season Greer scored 38 goals, giving her 125 career goals to break Murray State sophomore forward Lydia Grogan’s Murray High career goals record.
Griggs is from Henderson, Kentucky, and came from Henderson County High School. The purpose of bringing her onto the team was to add intensity to the Racers offensive attack. Griggs broke both the Henderson County and KHSSA records for career goals with 217 goals made throughout her soccer career. Also, Griggs was awarded the Player of the Year award in the years 2015-2017 consecutively.
Nithang is from Ankeny, Iowa, and comes from Ankeny Centennial High School. Nithang is confirmed as a champion competitor and a talented midfielder on the field. Her accomplishments include leading the Iowa Rush soccer team to victory when her team won 4 consecutive state cup championships from 2014 to 2018. Also, Nithang led the Jaguars to the 3A State Championship.
Payne is from Louisville, Kentucky, and attended Sacred Heart Academy. Payne led the Valkyries to a 2018 state championship. The incoming midfielder also took the opportunity to travel abroad to Liverpool, England, with the ODP International Team in 2018.
Strader is from Hopkinsville, Kentucky, and attended University Heights Academy. Strader was also added to the team to establish a prominent offensive attack for the Racers. Strader holds county records for goals made in a season, which was 53, and career goals, which was 164.
Villacres comes from Westerville, Ohio, and she attended Westerville South High School. Villacres will join fellow sophomore goalkeeper Cera Prather as they look to replace Steigerwald, a four-year starter for the Racers.
Villacres also played for the Classics Eagles Red FC Club team Jones and Bodker in 2018. The trio won the state cup championship. Villacres was also a 3-year captain for the Westerville South Wildcats where she earned First Team Ohio Capital Conference honors in 2017.
The Racers and its incoming recruits will kick off the 2019 season at home when they take on Xavier University at 3 p.m. on Thursday, August 22, at Cutchin Field.