The Liberty field hockey team has announced the addition of five student-athletes.
The Liberty field hockey team has announced the addition of five student-athletes in its 2020 recruiting class.
The five players – Martu Cian, Kelsey Heltzel, Ellie Livingston, Sophia Shoemaker and Gracie Wilkerson – hail from Pennsylvania (three), Virginia (one) and Argentina (one).
"Our 2021 class is made up of athletes that are dynamic, feisty, talented and quick. Every time we step on the pitch, we work to embody a core principle, ‘fast forward'," said Liberty Field Hockey Head Coach Nikki Parsley-Blocker. "Ultimately, this means that we want to play at a high tempo, directly towards the opposition's goal when possible. Each one of these athletes was recruited for a specific purpose. I believe they each have a unique ability to thrive within our system and add immediate value to the program."
Martu Cian (M – Monte Grande, Buenos Aires, Argentina/St. Mark's College) Cian, a midfielder, has competed for several clubs teams in Argentina over the past 10 years. The Buenos Aires native was a part of the pre-selection process for the Argentinian Junior Olympic Team in 2018, and this year she is a part of the pre-selection process for the 2021 Junior Pan American Games.
"I'm so excited and thankful and the LUFH coaches for giving me the opportunity of joining Liberty and becoming a Flame," Cian said. "I just want to grow in Jesus, make new friends, give my best in everything and have fun and work hard with the team in order to be a champion for Christ. I can't wait to be there!"
Cian also has experience with her high school team, St. Mark's College, and was a team captain as a junior. During her sophomore campaign, she earned Student Sports Association first team honors and best field hockey player of her high school. Cian has played for Club San Marcos (2010-11), Lomas Athletic Club (2012-20) and the Buenos Aires State sub 14 A, sub 16 B and sub 16 A teams (2016-18).
Kelsey Heltzel (M/F – Dillsburg, Pa./Northern York HS) Heltzel, a midfielder/forward, was a four-year varsity starter for the Northern York Polar Bears. As a junior, Heltzel earned second team all-state and first team all-conference honors while guiding her squad to the state round of the state tournament. During her sophomore season, she earned second team all-conference honors. Heltzel and the Polar Bears reached the third round of the district tournament in both 2017 and 2018. This fall, her team finished with an 11-2 record during her senior season.
"Joining LU field hockey and becoming an LU student is opening many opportunities for me academically, athletically and spiritually," Heltzel stated. "I love being surrounded by strong and passionate teammates and coaches, continuing my journey as a Christian and having the opportunity to meet kind and caring people while completing my collegiate education. I'm grateful and excited for this opportunity."
Heltzel has been a part of the Centra Penn Field Hockey (CPFH) club since 2014 alongside her feature teammate Sophia Shoemaker. Heltzel and the team have won 11 championships since 2017, including four titles in 2019. She is listed among the MAX Field Hockey Top 100 players in the class of 2021.
"Kelsey is the type of player that makes you enjoy watching the game. She plays with poise and finesse in the game. Her ball control and stick skills are next to none, with the ability to weave through traffic and then with consistency and accuracy set up the ball to her teammates. She is reliable, consistent and selfless on the field. Her ability to read the game, set up plays, ball control and versatility will be a great asset to the Liberty field hockey program. I look forward to seeing her rise and soar with Liberty field hockey!" Tabi Kleese, Centra Penn Field Hockey Head Coach
Ellie Livingston (F – Lancaster, Pa./Conestoga Valley HS) Livingston, a forward, earned Lancaster Lebanon League first team all-star status as a junior and senior and finished in the top three in the league in points both years for Conestoga Valley High School. Livingston, who is a four-year varsity letterwinner, and the Conestoga Buckskins posted a 24-10 combined record over the past two seasons. This fall, she scored eight goals and had seven assists and 23 points for a Conestoga team that reached the district quarterfinals. As a junior in 2019, Livingston notched 17 goals, six assists and 40 points for a 15-win squad that won a section title and reached the district quarterfinals.
"I could not be more excited about joining a team that is going to grow and challenge me as an athlete and as a follower of Christ. The LUFH passion for Jesus and field hockey is so special, and I cannot wait to be a part of it," Livingston said.
Livingston has competed at the club level for Nook Hockey (2017-18, 2020-21) and ABC Hockey (2018-20). The Lancaster, Pa., native and ABC Hockey have been a National Indoor Tournament (NIT) qualifier each of the years in which she has played for ABC.
"Ellie's speed and dynamic stick skills are a combination that creates countless offensive scoring opportunities. She is fast, determined and a team selfless team player." Kelly Dearolf, Conestoga Valley High School Girls Varsity Field Hockey Head Coach
Sophia Shoemaker (F – Newport, Pa./Newport HS) Shoemaker, a forward, enjoyed a successful four-year playing career at Newport High School. This past, Shoemaker and her team finished 9-3, won the Tri-Valley League and were the runner-up at the PIAA District 1A level. She led the team in goals (9) and points (20).
As a junior, Shoemaker and Newport finished as the Tri-Valley League runners-up and qualified for the PIAA 1A state tournament. During her sophomore season, Shoemaker guided Newport to a state runner-up finish and was listed among the MAX Field Hockey Top 100 players in the class of 2021. She earned PennLive All-State team honorable mention distinction as well.
"I'm so thankful to have the opportunity to go to my dream school and play field hockey. I can't wait to meet my new teammates and play for champions of Christ," Shoemaker stated.
Shoemaker has been a part of the Centra Penn Field Hockey (CPFH) club since 2016 alongside her feature Liberty teammate and fellow signee Kelsey Heltzel. Shoemaker and the team have won 11 championships since 2017, including four titles in 2019.
"Sophia joined CPFH as a middle schooler and immediately made an impact. She brought speed, passion and a commitment to growing in the game. Sophia's journey has had many ups and downs, but she has shown a strength in life that is beyond reason and could only come from God's love. I'm thrilled to see the player that she has become and excited for her opportunity to continue playing at the collegiate level with LU." Belinda Heltzel, Central Penn Field Hockey Owner and Head U19 Coach
Gracie Wilkerson (F – Stafford, Va./Mountain View HS) Wilkerson, a forward, will be joining the Lady Flames after a successful career at Mountain View High School. As a junior in 2019, Wilkerson earned first team all-state, first team all-region and first team all-district distinction while guiding the Wildcats to a 20-3 overall record, 11-1 district mark, a Class 5 state final appearance and region and district titles.
Wilkerson played for Brooke Point High School during her first two years of high school. During her sophomore season, she set the school record for single-season goals with 24 and earned first team all-area, first team all-region and first team all-district distinction. Wilkerson received first team all-region and first team all-district honors as a freshman and paced her team in goals (12).
"I chose Liberty because I love the school culture and the field hockey team's spirit and their strong desire to win a national championship," Wilkerson said. Coach Parsley-Blocker and Coach Hefner were always motivating at the clinics, and I really felt like everything clicked when I was around them."'
At the club level, Wilkerson has played for Saints Hockey Rocks (2015, 2017-20) and High Voltage Hockey (2016). Wilkerson earned titles with her club teams at the Junior Premier Outdoor League (two-time U16 R8 champions in 2016), Region 8 Club Championship (U16 in 2018 and U14 in 2017) and Summer Bash at the Beach (pool champions in 2016).
"Gracie Wilkerson is one of the most talented and skilled athletes I have coached. She is extremely fast and has a resilient work ethic. Gracie left a huge impact on our program. I am so excited to see Gracie excel at the college level. Liberty University is so lucky to have her!" Kimmy Sullivan, Mountain View High School Girls Varsity Field Hockey Head Coach
"Gracie Wilkerson has logged as many or more hours preparing for the next level as maybe any Saint ever. Her three-plus hour drives to play days and practices would discourage many, yet her passion for the game and her teammates always kept her coming back for more. She is a master at finding a turf or a place to run, anything to give her a chance to work on her game and prepare to be at her very best for the next level. One of my favorite characteristics of Gracie is her ability to laugh in stride and a step later get a game face and determination as fierce as anyone. She adores competing at the highest level and can laugh at the same time. That is what is should be all about. The Saints are thrilled to have another player join the incredible group of players and coaches at Liberty University! I believe Gracie will make the very most of everything the university makes available to its student-athletes. We will miss her." Scotty Tyson, Saints Hockey Rocks Field Hockey Head Coach
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