The 1997 season will be a new era at NCAA semifinalist Santa Clara and runner-up Notre Dame, which both lose key players from their 1996 final four campaigns.
Gone are the likes of Jen Lalor and Mikka Hansen from Santa Clara, and Jen Renola and Cindy Daws from Notre Dame.
But three out of the four semifinalists -- including Portland -- did well recruiting out West. All three have restocked themselves with enough young blood to put them back in the next final four.
Like last year, the Broncos have more than one player on the list, with two. Portland also nabs two Region IV standouts.
But Notre Dame, which is shooting for its fourth straight NCAA final appearance in '97, wins the big prize from the West.
Meotis Erikson is a blue-chip striker from Washington who rivals Region III's Meredith Florence for top recruit honors in the nation and completes Notre Dame's stellar recruiting class.
Erikson, a U.S. under-20 player, has racked up the accolades, including Parade
magazine player of the year, NSCAA high school all-America and youth all-America honors.
"I like her intensity and her ability to score big goals," Notre Dame coach Chris Petrucelli said. "She's the kind of kid who when you need a goal, she gets you one."
She should take the place of departing senior Amy VanLaecke up front, where she'll join returning veteran Monica Gerardo. A powerful, talented athlete who also plays basketball at Kamiakin High School, Erikson gives Notre Dame the big target player it has never had.
She's joined in South Bend, Ind., by Stacey Tullock, a midfielder who reminds the Irish coaching staff of star winger Holly Manthei.
Santa Clara loses its star playmaker in Lalor and loses the goalscoring of Hansen. Coach Jerry Smith gets both of those qualities from Rachel Weber and Heather Aldama. The latter is a fast, crafty player who could replace departing senior Erin Martinez in the left side of midfield.
Weber, who suffered an ACL injury to her knee last year, is another "soccer smart" player who played for the Lakewood Fury club in Colorado.
"She's the type of player who not only is a good player herself, but makes other people around her better," Nebraska coach John Walker said. "That's strange because she's able to do it from a striker's position."
Portland, like Notre Dame, is looking for its fourth straight final four appearance. Coach Clive Charles bolstered an already strong squad by signing two Oregon products in forward Kylee Barton, another U.S. U-20 and Parade
and youth all-America player, and with Vanessa Talbot.
Talbot is an attacking player who can play in midfield or up front for Portland coach Clive Charles.
Barton is the second best player in the region.
"As far as forwards go [Erikson] and Kylee are the best that I've seen," Petrucelli said. "Kylee's more of a runner, she's got better speed. Meotis is more of a target player."
Virginia reached all the way across the country to nab Seattle's Tammy Westinghouse, a versatile player who excels at sweeper. She will join freshman goalkeeper Megan Boehm, freshman striker Angela Hucles and junior sweeper Karem Esteva to give coach April Heinrichs a good nucleus of young players,
by Soccer America Associate Editor Dean Caparaz
SA Super-11 recruits (girls region IV)
||U.S. under-20 player good on the ball
||Fast, aggressive in the mold of Milbrett & MacMillan
||Small, tenacious, explosive 1-v-1 artist
||Best player in the region
||Versatile athlete can also play in the back
||Lake Oswego, Ore.
||Small, feisty take-on artist
||Fast, skillful flank player, serves the ball well
||Goalscorer and field general
||San Ramon, Calif.
||Athletic, quick, good decision-maker
||Intelligent, reads the game well