April 26, 2011
Contact: Dan Carr
CLEVELAND, Ohio - Following the best season in program history, including setting season records for wins and goals scored, the Cleveland State women's soccer team has added to it's best-ever recruiting class by signing Gabriella Simmons-Bird, a player on England's Bristol Academy team, to a National Letter of Intent.
Simmons-Bird will graduate from Filton College this summer and will play with Bristol Academy through the rest of the year before joining CSU beginning in the spring semester of 2012.
"We couldn't be happier to have signed a player of Gabby's talent and background," head coach Derrek Falor said. "She's the first over-seas player signing for us which I think shows a huge step forward in the success of our recruiting efforts."
She will enter Cleveland State as a freshman with four seasons of eligibility and will be available to play in spring games before beginning her Viking career during the 2012 campaign.
"I really liked CSU," Simmons-Bird said of her decision to sign an NLI. "I enjoyed meeting the team and Derrek, and the sports facilities are fantastic. It will be great to get the experience of playing soccer in the U.S."
In 2010, Simmons-Bird, a 5-10 forward, helped lead her Filton College team to a No. 1 ranking in England, helping the squad win the English Colleges League Trophy, the English Colleges FA Cup, the English Schools FA Cup and the Gloucester County FA Cup. She was the leading scorer on the team, recording 41 goals over the course of the season.
Simmons-Bird helped the team defend two of its championships in 2011, with Filton College repeating as the winner of the English Schools FA and Gloucester County FA Cups.
"In our opinion, Gabby is the big-time forward that we have been looking for who is a constant threat to every opponent," Falor said. "We feel very confident that her speed, size and technical ability will quickly allow her to become one of the most dangerous forwards in the Horizon League."
She has also been training with the Bristol Academy Super-League team, part of the new English Premier League which began play in April and includes teams such as Arsenal and Everton. The team features some of the best women's players from the top national teams across Europe.
Simmons-Bird began her tenure with the Super-League team on a high note, scoring in her first game appearance to help lead her squad to a 2-1 victory over Wales.
"We've felt for a while that one of our main challenges was to find that special forward who could take the pressure of the big game and find ways to produce key, game-winning goals," Falor said. "Gabby is just that player in our minds and we couldn't be more excited that she is a Viking!"
She will be joining a Cleveland State squad that won nine games in 2010 including seven at home, setting school records in both categories. The Vikings also scored 24 goals en route to a 9-8-2 overall record and a 5-3 conference mark, finishing the regular season a program-best third in the Horizon League. "Gabby told me quite clearly that the accomplishments of our program this past fall were a chief reason of her decision to come join us," Falor said.
Grouped with a large incoming class of seven players who signed NLI's and four recruited walk-ons, giving the Vikings what Falor calls their most talented recruiting class in program history, Simmons-Bird says she hopes to help CSU transition from being a contender into a Horizon League Championship team.
"I want to help the Vikings win the Horizon League by scoring lots of goals," Simmons-Bird said.
The women's soccer team will open its 2011 campaign on Aug. 19 when the Vikings travel to Kent State to play the Golden Flashes.