NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Vanderbilt soccer team will welcome six new faces in the incoming class next fall, including two defenders, two midfielders, a forward and a goalkeeper. The highly touted class consists of Maddie Baker, Caroline Betts, Allison Bollig, Alexa Gianoplus, Hannah McLaughlin and Ella Zimmerman.
Betts, a Nashville native, joins the Commodores from Christ Presbyterian Academy where she was named 2020’s Gatorade Soccer Player of the Year for Tennessee, the Tennessean High School Sports Award Female Soccer Player of the Year and USA Today’s Tennessee Female Soccer Player of the Year. Betts won the state championship her freshman year before finishing as runners-up as a member of her high school’s varsity squad. A four-time all-state honoree, the newcomer scored 201 goals and 110 assists through her high school career. Other honors include being named to the United Soccer Coaches All-Region team in 2020 as well as to the ECNL U19 Ohio Valley First Team All-Conference. Betts also competed for local Tennessee Soccer Club head coach Ronnie Woodard in her amateur career. A National Merit Commended Scholar, Betts is also a member of the National Honor Society.
“Caroline is a household name in the Nashville High School Soccer scene,” associate head coach Ken Masuhr said. “She had a wonderful career at CPA under coach Tom Gerlach and we are excited for her to finally join a long line of family members to attend Vanderbilt.”
McLaughlin joins the Commodore midfield from Cumming, Georgia, where she attended Denmark High School. As a senior at Denmark, she broke the most goals in a single season record for the girl’s team. A four-time academic honor roll selection, she participated in the U.S. Soccer regional training camp. Competing for Tophat, McLaughlin served as captain for four years and was a member of the U19 women’s national team player pool in 2021. Off the pitch, McLaughlin was a National BETA Club member and earned Denmark High School’s Distinguished Student Award.
“Hannah comes from a long line of influential TopHat players, coached by Troy Garner, that have worn the Vanderbilt Uniform since our arrival in 2015,” Masuhr added. “She can play several positions, scores goals, and has a mentality that is infectious within her teammates. After working with her at a Vandy soccer ID camp, we knew she would have the tools to be effective within our system and are excited to bring her to the West End.
Bollig is set to join McLaughlin in the midfield. The Aiken, South Carolina, native competed with the Olympic Development Program’s South Carolina team and a member of her high school team. Bollig attended the ODP national training camp 2017-20 and was named to the ODP regional team four times. She also competed for the Carolina Elite Soccer Academy. In high school, Bollig carried her team to the 2018 4A State Championship and was named to the 2019 all-region team. Academically, she is a member of both the National Honor Society and the National Society of High School Scholars.
“Ally ‘s soccer IQ is second to none,” Masuhr added about the incoming midfielder. “She is consistently communicating information to her teammates from either the six or 4/5 role within her club team. She has an unbelievable understanding of the game and when accompanied with her technical ability and dominance in the air she has the potential to be outstanding! Coach Andrew Hyslop has been influential in her development at CESA and has set her up for success in Nashville.”
On the defensive side of the ball, Baker comes to Vanderbilt from Mission Viejo, California, where she attended Santa Margarita Catholic High School. In 2021, Baker and her Slammers HB Køge Club team were ECNL National Finalists (U17) and she was named a National Finals Standout. Baker was also a Girls DA Season Preview Standout in 2019. Most recently, she was competed in the Youth National Team Regional ID SoCal as well as the U18-U19 Women’s National Team Virtual Camp.
“Maddie is an industrious hardworking wide player that we are confident can add to a position that has been so successful for us in the past,” said Masuhr. “She has pace, toughness, and can deliver a left footed service with confidence. A product of Tophat and most recently the Slammers HB Køge Club out of the ECNL we are thrilled she has chosen to attend Vanderbilt.”
Zimmerman is set to join Baker on the back line. A centerback out of Cumming, Georgia, Zimmerman was a 7A regional champion and state runner-up as a member of the Lambert High School team. She was also named a Top Drawer Soccer top-150 recruit by IMG Academy. From 2017-20, Zimmerman competed for Tophat Soccer Club where she captained her team and finished first regionally all three years. She has also been a part of the Olympic Development Program from 2015-16. Away from soccer, she is a part of the National Honor Society.
“Ella is a Vandy centerback through and through,” Masuhr said of the newcomer. “She’s tough, great in the air, willing to leave her feet and the ability to deliver passes to start attacks are just a few of her playing attributes. She comes from Atlanta, Georgia and Concorde Fire, coached by Garvin Quamina. She is going to be a fun player to watch in the SEC.”
At keeper, Gianoplus captained her high school team during her senior season at Langley High School in Great Falls, Virginia. At Langley she was named first team all-district and second team all-region. Gianoplus also competed for TSJ FC Virginia where she led her U15 team to the Development Academy League Mid-Atlantic Championship. The team also won the title as U17s and were named Academy League National Playoff Finalists. Gianoplus has also participated in many camp invites, including most recently as part of the Washington Spirit Advanced Development Program. As a student, Gianoplus has been recognized on the academic honor roll, is a member of the National Latin Honor Society and earned the Certificate of Honorable Merit Magna Cum Laude on the national Latin exam.
“Alexa is one of the best shot stoppers in the 22 class,” Masuhr added. “She has confidence playing in big games and the ability to back it up with initial and second or third shot stopping qualities. In a league where dealing with crosses is imperative, Alexa is brave enough to extend her range and deny those opportunities. Bobby Puppione from FC Virgina has prepared her for the next level and look forward to her arrival this summer to Vanderbilt.
The top-25 class (Top Drawer Soccer) is joining a group that finished second in the SEC East. The 2021 team finished in the top five of the SEC and returned to the SEC tournament for the seventh consecutive season.