Villanova, Pennsylvania – Villanova women’s soccer head coach. Samar Azem and its staff and announced the addition of five student athletes for the 2022 season. A pair of freshmen, Gaby Andres and Reese Kershner, and three transfers, Myla McLeod, Olivia Packer, Payton Woodward.
“We are building something special here in Villanova and the signatories are an important part of that,” Azem shared. “First and foremost we recruit character, and these young women represent that to the fullest. They are talented players, driven young people, and they appreciate the incredible educational experience Villanova University has to offer. I am delighted to welcome each of these young women as we continue to advance our program’s commitment to excellence.”
Gaby Andres | Freshman | Forward
Crozet, Virginia | Western Albemarle
Andres received four varsity degrees in football and three in athletics from West Albemarle. In 2019 and 2021, her team was Virginia Class 3 High School Champions and Regional Champions. In 2021, the Athletics won the Virginia Class 3 Indoor Track and Field Championships. With the Skyline Elite, Andres was part of the 2018 Virginia State Cup Champion, 2019 Eastern Regional Championship Semifinalist, 2018 Virginia State ODP Team, 2018 Regional Eastern Team, and 2018 Region 1 Camp.
She was a member of the National Honor Society, the History Honor Society, and the Mathematics Honor Society. In Villanova, Andres will study research sciences. She decided to go to Villanova because: “I knew Villanova was the place for me as soon as I set foot on campus and met the team and coaching staff. competitive football program. I really admire the competitive atmosphere of training, the high standards that the team upholds and the family atmosphere. I’m really looking forward to being part of the program they’re building.”
Reese Kershner | Freshman | midfield
Limerick, Pennsylvania | Spring Ford
Kershner received two varsity football credentials from Spring-Ford. In 2021, he was named to the All-PAC First Team and received the United Soccer Coaches Senior Excellence Award. The previous season, she was named to the All-PAC Second Team. Kershner played for the Penn Fusion Soccer Academy for seven years.
She decided to go to Villanova because of her “excellent studies. I wanted to challenge in class and Villanova suggested it. What made my decision certain was meeting the team for the first time and feeling like it was family.”
Mila McLeod | Sophomore | Forward
East Meadow, New York | eastern meadow | Vanderbilt
McLeod comes to Villanova after his first season at Vanderbilt. In the 2021 season, he played six matches and spent 36 minutes on the field. At East Meadow, she led her team to the Long Island Division I semi-finals twice, winning the conference in 2018. That same season, East Meadow reached the national finals and finished 2nd in the nation. From 2017 to 2019, he scored 20 goals and provided nine assists.
“I decided to go to Villanova because there is a great sense of community here. The campus is amazing and there is a chance to get a high level of education while competing with the football team.”
Olivia Packer | graduate student | Forward
Las Vegas, Nevada. | Palo Verde | Pepperdine
Packer moves to Villanova after playing four seasons at Pepperdine University. Over four seasons, Packer appeared in 41 games, scoring a couple of goals and providing three assists. In 2018, she redshirted, and in 2019, she earned a spot on the WCC freshman team by playing in all 20 games and making seven starts.
At Palo Verde, Packer was named the 2017-18 Gatorade Nevada State Player of the Year, earned state first-team honors, and scored 30 goals with seven assists. In addition, that season, he was named the Northwest League’s All-Time Offensive Player of the Year and named to the Nevada State All-Academy team. At Pepperdine Packer, he majored in public relations, and at Villanova he will be pursuing an MBA.
“I chose Villanova because of the opportunity to earn an MBA from a top university and also continue to play football at a high level. Samar and the women’s football staff are just wonderful people and coaches who encourage values and standards. for the players and the program, which I really liked.”
Payton Woodward | graduate student | Goalkeeper
Fayetteville, Ar. | Fayetteville | Arkansas
Woodward moved to Villanova after his last two seasons in Arkansas. In 2021, she scored 58 minutes in three games for the Razorbacks, all won by the Hogs, and was named to the SEC Fall Academic Awards. The Razorbacks have won back-to-back SEC titles in 2020 and 2021 and have risen to Sweet 16 in 2020 and Elite 8 in 2021. Before Woodward spent her first season in Kentucky, where she was in the top five in the SEC in saves per game. and played her second season in Portland.
At Fayetteville, Woodward received state, conference, and tournament honors and was named to the All-Star Team. She was a member of the Honor Society of the Nation and specialized in financial risk management in Arkansas and will receive a Master of Finance degree from Villanova.
“I decided to go to Villanova for many reasons, but what really solidified my decision was the people. From the other athletes to the coaches, support staff and people from the Business School and MSF programs, everyone was more than willing to help and support me in any way they could. I also can’t wait to compete in the Big East with an amazing team.”