LA Tech soccer inks five to NLIs

Courtesy of LA Tech Athletic Communications

Louisiana Tech head coach Steve Voltz announced this week the signing of five new Lady Techsters that will join the LA Tech Soccer program in the Fall of 2023. 

The four incoming freshmen signing National Letters of Intent include Kyra Taylor, Dakota Merino, Ella White, Mackenzie Kelso, and Valerie Gherson.

“For us it was part of continuing the process of what we have started and looking at filling needs positionally,” said Voltz. “Goalkeeper was a must and we wanted more depth on our back line and a strong attacker.

“We also looked for players who were interested and committed to our style of play, our program, and being the type of student athlete that can thrive here at Louisiana Tech.” 

Taylor is an all-around athlete out of Longview, Texas where she lettered in volleyball, basketball, and track, while playing club soccer, where she played forward.

She is a two-time runner-up at the Dallas International Cup in 2019 and 2022 and won the Dallas International Cup championship in 2021. 

She also took first place at the Disney Showcase Championships in 2020 and is a two-time USCS regional and national champion. 

Taylor is an all-district basketball performer and qualified for regional and state competition in the 4×100, 4×200, and 4×400 relays. 

“Kyra was someone who came to our ID Camp and showed who she is and what she can do,” said Voltz. “We loved what we saw and continued to follow her during club play. She is a determined attacker that moves well and knows the game. She has an extremely high ceiling.”

Merino is a center back and outside back from Syracuse, Utah where she is a two-time Defender of the Year, a Second-Team All-State performer, and All-American nominee. 

She had also been named the Top-Drawer Soccer Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) standout player and was Top 18 at the Olympic Development Program.

“When you think of Dakota you think of speed,” said Voltz. “She is an all-around defender, has great range, can cover a lot of ground, and has great recovery speed. She is extremely tough and has great 1-on-1 skills when defending.”

White, a Burnsville, Minn. native, is a four-year letter winner for Burnsville High School as a defender, team captain, all-conference performer, and voted the team’s Most Valuable Player. 

White plays club soccer for the MN Eclipse Girls Academy. 

“We first learned of Ella through our connections in Minnesota,” said Voltz. “She is a leader at the center back position, strong in the air, and great in set pieces. She will give us a ton of strength and has a great understanding of the game. She will come in and help us build depth at the position.”

Kelso is a goalkeeper from Highlands Ranch, Colo. where she played for the FC Portland ECNL and Oregon ODP and became a three-peat Regional Champion from 2016-2018.

Kelso’s team also made the Western Regional Championships Top-18 in 2018. She also spent time with Portland Thorns Academy and Real Colorado Athletico ECNL. 

“Mac fills a massive need for us in goal,” said Voltz. “She is very vocal and does a great job leading her team from the back. She has played at a very high club level and will be ready to compete right away. We really like to play a lot out of the back and she is great with her feet which will help us with our attack as well.”

Gherson, a forward from Lima, Peru, played club soccer for Deportivo Universidad Cesar Vallejo. Gherson also spent time with the Peruvian Youth National Team where she played at the 17U South America Championships last year. 

She was named the Most Valuable Player following a match against Ecuador and earned Player of the Week honors in the Peruvian League where her team also picked up Team of the Week honors for their play. 

“Valerie brings an ability to help us in different areas of our attack,” said Voltz. “She is technically sound and her international experience helps us to continue to raise the mindset within our program.”

LA Tech completed the 2022 season with a fourth-place finish in the Conference USA standings after being picked ninth in Coach Voltz’s first year as the full-time head coach. 

“We have five young women that are completely sold on our university and program,” said Voltz. “They already building connections with each other and it just exciting to see group that is already so committed to this program, school, and community even a year out from getting here. These are exactly the type of young women we need in Ruston to continue building this program.”