Collinsville seniors Emily Holten and Andrea Frerker, two of the top girls soccer players in the metro-east, officially latched on with college programs Wednesday.
Holten, the reigning Belleville News-Democrat’s Player of the Year, signed with Mississippi, while Frerker joined the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Cougars.
As juniors last season, Holten and Frerker led the Kahoks (22-2-2) to a second-place finish in the Class 3A state tournament. Both were all-state, all-sectional and all-Southwestern Conference honorees.
Holten, a forward who had 24 goals and 16 assists, joins Althoff’s Shannon Maitland at Mississippi. Maitland will be a sophomore at Ole Miss, which was 9-11 overall and 4-7 in the Southeastern Conference last season.
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“I’ve been waiting two years to sign,” said Holten, who verbally committed to Mississippi in January 2015, when she was a sophomore. “It’s finally here and I couldn’t be more excited for it to be official.”
Holten said she will have to work hard to make an impact as a freshman.
“They’re losing five seniors, so I’m going to have to step up my game and work super-hard in the summer to get fit so I can try to get a spot on the team,” Holten said. “To get a starting spot, you have to give it your all every single day. I’m really going to have to earn my position.”
Frerker, a midfielder, had seven goals and 11 assists. At SIUE, Frerker will join a team that finished 10-8-5 overall and 6-3-1 in the Ohio Valley Conference last season.
“It was one of the last schools I looked at,” Frerker said. “I was interested in some other ones, but SIUE really (fit) when I walked on campus. It’s weird because I live 15 minutes away from it, so I see it often. But going there and looking at it as a future student really put it in perspective.
“I like the size of the school, but meeting up with the coaches and feeling the reality of playing soccer there, at a Division I school that’s close to me, was the jackpot.”
The Cougars won the OVC Tournament and defeated Notre Dame in the first round of the NCAA tournament before falling to Northwestern in the second round.
“The last two out of three years, they’ve been able to go to the NCAA tournament. I would love to have that opportunity and hopefully take them to the next step forward,” said Frerker, who will major in biology or chemistry.
Frerker also considered Illinois State, but was drawn to SIUE’s proximity to Collinsville.
SIUE coach Derek Burton called Frerker a “dynamo.”
“She is a tireless worker with a winner’s mentality,” he said. “She wants to compete and she is not afraid to put in a day’s work. In addition to her great attitude and outlook, she is talented and a difference-maker in the midfield for both her high school and club teams. She is a true two-way player.
“What separates her from most (players) is her ability to turn on a dime and work out of pressure. Her balance and agility are fun to watch and translate well to the college game.”
Eight other Collinsville players also found new homes: Dayle McEwen (Francis Marion); goalie Morgan Lerch (Jacksonville State); Alynnah O’Leary (McKendree); Tayler Devine (McKendree); Danielle Knutson (McKendree); Kaylee McSpadden (Maryville); Bianca Cortez (Southwestern Illinois); and Alex DeLuca (Southwestern Illinois).
Crabtree, Mushill sign
Edwardsville midfielder Abigail Crabtree signed with Purdue on Wednesday, while defender Mallory Mushill joined Frerker at SIUE.
Crabtree led the Tigers in scoring last spring with 16 goals and nine assists, earning an all-state recognition. Signing with Purdue fulfilled a dream Crabtree has had for two years.
“I’ve been waiting for this since the day I visited Purdue my sophomore year, and here we are,” Crabtree said. “Time went by so fast and I know the next four years are going to go by so fast. But I’m going to try to make the most of it.”
Crabtree, who will major in biology with an emphasis in premed, said she hopes to play an attacking midfielder. But she believes she’s versatile enough to play wherever needed.
“(Purdue) is a school that will challenge me academically. Academics are my No. 1 priority,” she said. “I would like to see myself flourish not only with academics, but in the soccer area as well. The girls are very strong mentally and physically. I’m going to have to work; I’ll have to gain muscle because I’ll be going against girls four years older than me.”
Mushill was recruited to SIUE has a center back, but also can play a holding midfielder. Last season, Mushill had four goals and one assist for the Tigers.
Like Frerker, Mushill is encouraged about SIUE’s future. She verbally committed the summer before her junior year.
“I hope I can contribute to it,” Mushill said. “I’m really excited because I’ve never heard anything bad about it. The coaches are amazing, the girls are awesome and the team is great. It’s on the rise. I love that it’s close to home and my family members can come watch me play.”
Mushill said she probably will major in biology or nursing.
Burton is pleased to add the Edwardsville native to the Cougars’ program.
“It’s been a little bit since we’ve had an Edwardsville signee.” Burton said. “Mal is a tenacious tackler who really loves to compete and mix it up. I’m looking forward to adding that competitiveness to our team moving forward.
“On top of her willingness to mix it up, she has a calm demeanor about her when she has possession of the ball. And that plays well with how we prefer to play: Work hard to win the ball and compete, but then also be comfortable on the ball and make good decisions to keep it. Additionally, she is a great target in the air on set pieces, which will be nice to add as well.”
Three other Edwardsville players signed: Ashlin West (Illinois-Chicago), Allysiah Belt (Missouri-St. Louis) and Taylor Hansen (Lewis & Clark).
Other metro-east players to sign with Division I schools were Granite City’s Lexi Grote (Southeast Missouri State), Columbia’s Morgan Glaenzer (Tennessee-Martin) and Triad’s Meaghan Smith (Illinois-Chicago)
Grote, a solid playmaker who earned an all-state selection, had 10 goals and 11 assists as a senior for the Warriors.
Glaenzer, a defender, helped the Eagles finish 15-6-2 and advance to the Class 1A sectional championship.
Smith, a forward, had 18 goals and 10 assists for the Knights (16-5-3) last spring.