DAVIS, Calif. -- Drawing from a pair soccer hotbeds, UC Davis women’s soccer head coach Twila Kaufman announced the signing of two high school standouts to National Letters of Intent during the NCAA’s initial signing period that began on Wednesday (Feb. 7).
Californian Leslie Fregoso (Live Oak, Calif. / San Juan Soccer Club) joins New Jersey native Margot Ridgeway (Fair Haven, N.J. / Cedar Stars Academy) in signing letters of intent on Wednesday, bringing the total number of newcomers to four for the 2018 season. Division I transfers Janae Gonzalez (Santa Clara) and Bryanna Duckett (Arizona) joined the Aggie program back in December.
"We are very excited about our current squad,” Kaufman said. “We have a young group that got a lot of experience this past season and we are seeing the fruit of that right now in winter training. We also have a lot of players returning to play that did not play this past fall and they are really meshing well with that group.
“I am very thankful for (assistant coaches) Marcelo Antonelli’s and Rachael Collins’ ability to help us identify and recruit, not just great people and good soccer players, but specific pieces to the puzzle that we are building. There are a few additions to the class still to come, but each one of these ladies who signed with us today fills a specific role and we feel they are well-equipped for the job ahead. It takes a lot of wisdom and diligence to build classes and I am very thankful for the hard work of our staff.”
Ridgeway, a 6-foot-1 defender/forward who prepped at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional HS, becomes the second New Jersey native on the UC Davis roster, joining Casey Palmer, who redshirted her true freshman season in 2017 and played for the same Cedar Stars Academy team as Ridgeway back in the Garden State. She has spent time in the United States national team program, earning three call-ups into camp with the U16 Girls’ National team in 2015 and 2016.
“We are thrilled that Margot will be joining our program,” Kaufman said. “She has a great brain for the game, good work ethic and is a play-making center back. Due to her diverse set of skills she could also see playing time upfront. We are thrilled that she will have some familiarity with Casey prior to coming as the two of them connected very well at the club level. She is very good in the air.”
One of 40 seniors selected to compete in the fifth annual High School All-American Game in Orlando, Fla., back in early December, Ridgeway is regarded as one of the top two-way players in the state, improving on her 11-goal, 10-assist performance as a sophomore to score 19 goals and 12 assists as a junior.
As a senior, Ridgeway served as one the team’s tri-captains, scoring 17 goals and assisting on six others. For her career, she finished with 56 goals and 34 assists, helping Rumson-Fair Haven Regional HS to a pair of A-Central Division titles, gain the semifinals of the Shore Conference championships, and compete in a pair of New Jersey Central Jersey Group II championship games.
During her prep career, Ridgeway was twice named to the New Jersey All-Group II first team and an All-Shore Conference second team choice as a junior and senior, earned All-Metro Honorable Mention and all-state second team honors in 2017, and was a three-time Class A Central All-Division Team from 2015-17.
“I am very excited for the opportunity to attend a top tier public university and play for a rising soccer program,” Ridgeway said. “I chose UC Davis for the unique opportunity Twila and the coaching staff offer me in challenging myself to grow as a player and work hard towards my goals. I can’t wait to contribute to the team’s amazing atmosphere led by an enthusiastic coach committed to her players.”
Fregoso, a 5-foot-4 forward/midfielder, has spent the last five years with her San Juan Soccer Club, including two seasons with their ECNL squad, while also playing basketball for Live Oak HS. She averaged nearly 18 points per game on the court as a junior in 19 games for the Bulldogs, earning All-Sacramento Valley League honors.
“Leslie is a player who can come in and out of games in surprising ways,” Kaufman said. “She is full of flair and disguise. She has a high work rate that is often hidden in savvy movement until it is too late for the opponent to respond. With the addition of Janae Gonzales this winter, come fall she will be the second new face to the program for the Fall 2018 hailing from within 30 miles of the university. There may or may not already be a little competition going to see who can bring the most fans this fall.”
Said Fregoso, “I chose UC Davis because it was the perfect fit for me to continue my soccer career and my academics. I automatically felt a connection with the coaches and players and knew it was the place to be. I felt that I was able to grow as a person and as a player because of the help and the support provided by the staff. A dream of mine has always been to be able to compete on a Division I soccer team and can’t wait to do so.”
2017-18 UC DAVIS WOMEN'S SOCCER SIGNEES
Name (Height, Position, Hometown / Previous School, Club Team)
Margot Ridgeway (6-1, D/F, Fair Haven, N.J. / Rumson-Fair Haven Regional HS '18, Cedar Stars Academy)
Leslie Fregoso (5-4, F/M, Live Oak, Calif. / Live Oak HS '18, San Juan Soccer Club)