BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – After previously announcing four new Lady Toppers last week,
Head Coach Jason Neidell has announced another trio of players who will head to The
Hill to begin their collegiate careers next fall. Samantha Francis (Raleigh, N.C.),
Taylor Stanley (Macomb, Mich.) and Jordan Strauss (Parkland, Fla.) will look to make
their mark at WKU.
WKU will seek an immediate impact from its newest freshmen as the Lady Toppers seek
to replace three graduating seniors, all of whom drew starts in nearly all of WKU’s
matches during the 2018 season. The Lady Toppers are coming off a 5-8-4 campaign and
finished the season strong, earning at least one point in five of the last six
matches against C-USA foes.
Samantha Francis – Midfielder, 5’5″, Raleigh, N.C.
Hailing from North Carolina, Francis is set to bring a dynamic background to The
Hill that includes a dramatic double-overtime goal to win a State Cup championship
and ECNL national final trips in 2017 and 2018. The former came during the 2016
season: Francis led her squad in goals scored, but none came at a more important
time that the State Cup final, where she converted a penalty kick in double overtime
to clinch the victory in the clutch moment.
Francis also competed in the national ECNL finals in 2017 and 2018 with CASL (later
rebranded as NCFC Youth), traveling to Chicago for the 2017 event and Seattle in
During her playing time at Wakefield High School, Francis was a four-year starter
for Head Coach CJ Komons and the Wolverines. She captured a pair of all-conference
and all-region honors in both 2017 and 2018 and helped the Wolverines to the No. 1
ranking in the nation for high school girls’ soccer for 14 weeks during the 2017
Neidell on Francis: “Sam has a strong soccer pedigree and is a versatile and
complete player who is great in the open field.”
Taylor Stanley – Forward, 5’3″, Macomb, Mich.
Continuing the trend of recent Lady Toppers to hail from Michigan, Stanley will make
the trek south and bring national championship experience at the ODP level. A
two-time Michigan State Cup champion in 2016 and 2017, Stanley helped to lead her
squad to even further heights during that 2016 season, claiming the regional
championship before the storybook season culminated in a national championship.
In high school, Stanley competed at Eisenhower High School under Head Coach Merhdad
Nekoogar. During her time with the Eagles, Stanley picked up All-District and
All-County honors for her high level of play.
Neidell on Stanley: “Taylor is a quick and tenacious forward who can create on the
dribble with a great nose for the goal.”
Jordan Strauss – Midfielder, 5’9″, Parkland, Fla.
A highly decorated player out of Florida, Strauss brings extensive high school and
club-level experience to the Lady Toppers. She was a three-year member of the
Florida ODP team (2014-17) while also competing with the Region III ODP squad
(2014-16). A captain with her club team, Sunrise Sting 2001, Strauss was a two-time
Southern Regional Championship participant, claimed the championship at the
September 2017 Disney Showcase Qualifier and helped to lead her squad to the 2018
Florida NPL, SRPL AND R3PL First Division championships.
In high school, Strauss was a three-year letterwinner at Marjory Stoneman Douglas
High School under Head Coach Laura Rountree, competing for her final three seasons
after missing her freshman season due to injury. Strauss had a breakout 2017-18
season with the Lady Eagles, scoring five goals and assisting on six others en route
to earning a spot on the Miami Herald All-Broward County Team. Now serving as a
captain for the 2018-19 campaign, Strauss also earned the team’s 2018 Unsung Hero
award and was a finalist for the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas Female Athlete of the
Neidell on Strauss: “Jordan is a very technical midfielder who uses both feet well
and can strike from range.”