While USC football has pledged to “Take Back the West” by recruiting top high school talent in the Southern California area, other USC sports are also gearing up for the fall. Here’s a look at how USC’s soccer, men’s water polo, women’s tennis and women’s volleyball teams have bolstered their 2020 rosters.
Last month, head coach Keidane McAlpine announced the addition of nine freshmen and one graduate transfer to the team after 12 players, including offensive contributors seniors forward Natalie Jacobs and midfielder Ashleigh Plumptre, graduated.
“One of the lessons from last year’s injuries was that we needed to retool our depth, and I think this class certainly does that and much more for us,” McAlpine said.
Graduate transfer forward Jennifer Westendorf can bring the experience and versatility the young team needs. Westendorf compiled 20 goals and 13 assists at Notre Dame and also played with the Brazilian U-20 Women’s National Team.
Other recruits include forward Angeles Escobar from Lancaster, Calif., who scored a record 181 goals across four varsity seasons, and No. 43 2020 recruit midfielder Alexa Gonzalez from Riverside.
The team will also bring in Palo Alto native Talia Grossman and Emily Rhinehart from Fallston, Md. as goalkeepers who both held a goals against average at or below 0.50. They will compete with junior Anna Smith and redshirt junior Emily Cuthbert to fill the gap left by recent graduate Kaylie Collins.
Incoming freshman defenders Mary Shin and Anuhea Kane, both from Hawaii, will work to solidify the defensive line. McAlpine was drawn to their situational awareness and communication.
“Technically and tactically, they definitely have strengths that will accent our team and help provide different tools, as well as create much-needed depth,” McAlpine said.
Men’s water polo
The men’s water polo team will see plenty of additional talent on its 2020 roster.
Standout two-meter Max Miller from San Juan will fill the gap left behind by 2020 graduate centers Sam Slobodien and Matt Maier, as well as potential Olympian junior Jake Ehrhardt. Miller ranked No. 7 in all-time scoring for the CIF Southern Section with a career total of 512 goals. Incoming freshman Tony Nardelli will compete with him for time in center as a two-time MVP at California’s Mountain View High School.
“[Miller’s] talent in the water is one of a kind, be it his offensive goal-scoring prowess or his defensive ability to cancel the opponent’s best player,” head coach Marko Pintaric said.
Drive defenders Tom McGuire from Campolindo and Newport Harbor standout Reed Stemler will allow the Trojans to quickly convert and push their opponents to the perimeter.
Oliver Von Karl from Miramonte High and another Newport Harbor recruit in Blake Jackson will compete for time in the cage this coming season. Jackson will be one to watch after collecting 391 saves as a junior.
“Blake’s admiration for the game of water polo and unparalleled desire to compete makes him the defensive backbone [of] every team he has played on,” Pintaric said. “His quick reaction times and great decision-making is a result of his incredible work ethic and his toughness, both mentally and physically.”
The Trojans will have to overcome the loss of graduated driver Marin Dasic and possibly the departure of potential Olympians junior drivers Marko Vavic and Hannes Daube. But USC’s offseason additions have the team poised to fill those gaps.
The USC women’s tennis team has signed two prized recruits this spring in graduate transfer Clare McKee from Princeton and Scottsdale, Ariz. native McKenna Koenig.
McKee spent her senior season as Princeton’s team captain, amassing impressive records of 16-5 in singles and 15-8 in doubles. This followed a three-season stretch in which the former five-star recruit led her team twice in wins.
Koenig is a five-star high school recruit herself, ranking No. 69 nationally. A member of Heisman High School’s back-to-back singles state champion teams from 2017-18, Koenig also captured the doubles state title in 2018 after finishing runner-up the year prior. Koenig also brings experience from multiple victories in national USTA tournaments in both singles and doubles play.
Koenig and McKee round out a 2020 recruiting class that also includes Naomi Cheong from Las Vegas and Snow Han from China.
The USC women’s volleyball team has been hot on the recruiting trail this spring. Three new players have signed for the upcoming season: blocker Aleksandra Gryka, libero Samantha Hastings and outside hitter Malaya Jones.
Gryka hails from Warsaw, Poland and was a member of the Polish National Team in the 2017 FIVB U20 World Championships. Her decorated career as a middle blocker includes three first-place awards at the U18 and U20 Polish National Championships.
Hastings starred as a defensive specialist at Frisco Centennial High School in Texas, where she was twice named Texas District 9-5A Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year.
Jones spent the first three years of her high school career at San Juan Hills High School in Mission Viejo, Calif., where she helped her team win state championships in 2017 and 2018. After lettering all three years, Jones transferred to Santa Margarita High School, where she earned a spot on the AVCA Under Armour All-American Watch List.
After a frustrating 18-14 season cut short in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, the Trojans hope these recruits can help the 2020 squad bounce back.