Kelsey Cunningham, Emily Villas sign to play for WPSL's Knoxville Lady Force
YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – Young Harris College women's soccer players Kelsey Cunningham and Emily Villas have signed semi-professional contracts with the Knoxville Lady Force of the Women's Premier Soccer League.
The Lady Force are playing in their inaugural season in the WPSL's newly formed Southeast Conference in 2012. The formal WPSL season starts May 25 when they face the Mississippi Fuego FC on the road. The Knoxville Lady Force will play their home matches at the Regal Soccer Stadium on the campus of the University of Tennessee during their initial campaign.
The WPSL has over 60 teams nationally and is the largest women's soccer league in the nation. The WPSL's main focus is on the development of highly competitive amateur women's soccer teams. WPSL also makes every effort to bring quality soccer to all levels of the community and to promote the stature of female athletes as role models for our youth. The WPSL was formed in 1998. It is sanctioned by the United States Adult Soccer Association as an affiliate of the United States Soccer Federation, the ruling body of soccer in the United States and FIFA, the world's ruling body for soccer.
Of the 27 players on the roster, Cunningham and Villas are two of six NCAA Division II players on the team. The squad has 19 players from NCAA Division I institutions and two from NCAA Division III.
Cunningham, a 5-foot-8 goalkeeper from Cumming, Ga., had 1.18 goals-against average as the Mountain Lions went 10-7-1. She recorded 97 saves with five shutouts in 1,442 minutes of action as she started 17 matches for Young Harris. In her three-year YHC career, Cunningham played in 46 matches and recorded 258 saves with a 1.01 GAA. Cunningham was an All-NJCAA Region 17 second team performer in 2009.
Villas, a 5-6 midfielder from Jupiter, Fla., finished second on the team with nine goals and 14 points. The 2010-11 Young Harris College Female Athlete of the Year played in 68 career matches with 22 goals, nine assists and 53 points. She was named to the All-NJCAA Region 17 and NSCAA All-South Region teams in 2009.
"I am extremely proud of both Emily and Kelsey as they continue their career in women's soccer with the Knoxville Lady Force," said Young Harris coach Kathy Brown. "They are both extremely talented young women, both physically and intellectually. I'm excited at the opportunity they have to compete at a very high level surrounded by very good players. Both players were essential elements in the success of the Young Harris College women's soccer program and I will miss them dearly. Aside from being talented soccer players, they are smart, witty, charismatic, happy people that will do well on the soccer field and in life. I can't wait until their season starts so I can watch them play."
"The Knoxville Lady Force is excited about the inaugural season, and look forward to the level of soccer that the NPSL provides. We feel that this will give every player, especially those that are current collegiate players, a great summer soccer experience for them to grow," said Lady Force coach Fields Brown. "By adding Kelsey and Emily, we are really adding great leadership, talent, and ability. We feel that these two will be able to really contribute immediately and help the Lady Force to a wonderful first season."