July 25, 2014
DAVIS, Calif. — Even though their paths crossed throughout their careers at the youth and high school levels, Southern California soccer standouts Kelly Brady, Natalie de Leon, Kate Hamilton and Mandy McKeegan now have their first-ever opportunity to combine their talents and unite for a common cause. These student-athletes will now have the opportunity to work together and execute games plans as teammates, instead of focusing their energy against one other as opponents when preseason workouts commence in August.
“In addition to Dana Fujikuni, we have several Southern California players comprising this incoming class. They have no doubt faced each other several times at the youth level and now have the opportunity to become great college teammates. We look forward to establishing UC Davis roots in Southern California and strengthening the program’s presence in future years,” said head coach Twila Kaufman.
A three-time all-Rio Hondo League first team recipient, Brady was also recognized by the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) on two occasions with her inclusion on its first team in 2011, and second team in 2012. Before she concluded her career at South Pasadena, Brady also collected second team all-area honors for the second straight season.
Besides scoring a combined 45 goals in three seasons on the South Pasadena’s varsity roster, Brady was selected as the team's most outstanding offensive player as a sophomore and offensive player of the year during her junior and senior seasons.
“Kelly possesses a potent mix of speed and technical ability, she is just as fast with the ball as she is without it. She is a smart young lady and we feel she is going to quickly grasp what is asked of her here,” said Kaufman.
Responsible for helping her team finish the regular season as league champions in 2011, Brady also led the Tigers to three CIF Southern Section playoff appearances.
A recipient of the South Pasadena Rotary Club's Youth Leadership Award, Brady also received the Scholastic Art & Writing Silver Key Award before graduating, with honors, with a 3.44 GPA.
On the club level, Brady competed for Crescenta Valley, L.A. Premier and CZ Elite.
Eye-opening and attention-grabbing: two phrases that accurately describe Natalie de Leon’s high school career as the four-year letterwinner scored 101 goals and earned 50 assists while attending Saint Joseph High School.
As a sophomore, de Leon set a new school record when she finished the 2012 season with 75 points—a year that saw Saint Joseph capture its first of back-to-back Del Rey League championships.
Led by de Leon, the Jesters also advanced to the CIF Division II playoffs for three consecutive seasons before advancing to state finals in their first year after making the jump to the Division II level.
The Jesters’ success led to numerous awards and accolades for de Leon; an all-Del Rey League first team member as a sophomore, junior and senior, she was also named to the CIF’s first team on two occasions and received MVP accolades in her final season at Saint Joseph.
Besides her high school success, de Leon was a key contributor to the accomplishments earned by Slammers FC, her club team. With de Leon on its roster, Slammers FC competed in the Gold Division of the Coast Soccer League—home to numerous elite-level, Southern California programs—and captured a Southern California Developmental Soccer League title. Competed in the Elite Club National League.
Not only has Natalie been exposed to the highest level of club soccer but she has some international experience as well. In 2012 as a U-17 member, de Leon was named to the Mexican National Team’s winter pool.
"Natalie comes from a highly successful club and has found a way to become one of their best goal-scorers. She has a knack for scoring and her size affords us the ability to vary the way we play our forwards," said Kaufman.
A true student-athlete, de Leon was a member Saint Joseph's Honor Roll Society all four years.
A four-year fixture in goal for Garces Memorial High School as its top netminder, Hamilton, last year's team captain, helped the Rams earn their second Southeast Yosemite Championship and finish the season as CIF Central Section Division II runners-up. Also taking place throughout her high school tenure was a playoff run in 2013—one that saw the Rams capture a sectional championship and a berth in the CIF SoCal Championship Tournament.
In her final season, Hamilton allowed only nine goals in 24 games and recorded 17 clean sheets.
“Kate comes from us from a talented region that many college recruiters fail to take advantage of.” Added Kaufman, “She has singlehandedly kept her team in numerous games with her efforts and faced numerous scenarios that her peers would have been unable to handle. We feel her best days in goal still lie ahead.”
Besides earning all-area selections all four seasons, Hamilton was awarded the school's Most Outstanding Lower Classman Athlete and all-league Most Valuable Goalkeeper honors as a sophomore and junior.
She is also one of the rare student-athletes in her school to receive Principal’s Honor Roll recognition in each semester for all four years.
Responsible for a collective 38 goals and 40 assists as an outside midfielder, McKeegan received all-Bay League second team and Daily Breeze all-area first team accolades as a junior and senior respectively. In her final season as a Mustang, she was elected team captain, led the team in scoring with nine goals and finished second in assists with 12.
A member of Mira Costa High School's varsity program all four years, McKeegen helped the Mustangs advance to the CIF playoffs for the fourth time in a row this past season. Advancing to the round of 16 and round of 32 during her first two years, Mira Costa advanced to the quarterfinals and semifinals respectively in McKeegan's final two seasons.
“We feel that Mandy is true utility player. She can pretty much do anything asked of her and will be a key player in our evolving style,” explained Kaufman.
As a member of Beach F.C., a team ranked No. 5 in the nation, No. 1 in her region and in Southern California, McKeegen helped her club squad finish as Cal South State, Far West Regional and National League champions the last two seasons.