River Hawks Reveal Eight-Person Recruit Class

River Hawks Reveal Eight-Person Recruit Class

LOWELL, Mass. – Eight newcomers will be suiting up for the River Hawks for the first time this fall as Head Coach Mira Novak and the UMass Lowell women’s soccer team announce the 2021 recruit class.
The group includes four international student-athletes, hailing from Greece, Denmark and Sweden. As well as players from the states of Florida, New Jersey and two who will be staying close to home in the Bay State.
“It is my pleasure to add a talented group of freshmen to the team that achieved an unbeaten regular season title last year,” commented Novak. “I’m thrilled for them to add a high-level of competition to our group to achieve our goal of competing in the NCAA tournament. The class includes players who competed at a tough level domestically, while some have national team experience for their countries. I would like to personally thank our staff, past and present, for identifying such a talented group of players. I look forward to seeing their impact on the program over next four years.”


Name: Kelli Buckley  

Nickname: Bucks

Hometown/High School: Shrewsbury, Mass. / Worcester Academy

Position: Midfield

Height: 5-2

Club Team: FC Stars

Major/Minor: Exercise Science


High School/Previous School: Played soccer and basketball at Worcester Academy, where she was a four-year starter…Served as captain of the Worcester Academy soccer team as a senior…Named to the FC Stars Elite Club National League Team her senior year…Tabbed a NEPSAC All-Star as a junior…Helped guide the FC Stars to back-to-back Mass State Cup Championships…Received Headmasters List honors while at Worcester Academy…Earned the Global Seal of Biliteracy Award.

Personal:  Daughter of Brenda and Paul Buckley…Has three siblings, Ryan (21), Pat (26) and Lauren (25)…Loves watching all the Boston sports teams, spending time with family and friends and vacationing in Bridgton, Maine…Lists Friday Night Lights, Friends and FBI as her favorite TV shows…Lists Manchester United as one of her favorite sports teams…Names Steph Curry and Bruno Fernandes as her biggest inspirations…Biliterate in Spanish…Hopes to attend grad school to receive her doctorate in physical therapy someday.

Why UMass Lowell: “I chose to attend UMass Lowell because I love the team culture/chemistry and the coaching staff. Academically, UML was a great fit for me and has a very strong exercise science program.”


Name: Kaia Harris

Hometown/High School: Seminole, Fla. / Osceola Fundamental

Position: Defense

Height: 5-8

Club Team: Florida Celtic SC

Major/Minor: Exercise Science


High School/Previous School: Played soccer at Osceola Fundamental High School…Named a Pinellas County First-Team All-Conference honoree as a senior…Tabbed to the Pinellas County All-Star Team her senior year…Voted the Team MVP…Helped her team win the District Championship as well as the Regional Championship game…Scored three goals and picked up five goals as a defender…Graduated Magna Cum Laude.

 Personal: Daughter of Kristi and Kevin Harris…Has two sisters, Kenzie (16) and Kennedi (12)…Enjoys wakeboarding, listening to music, hanging out with friends and going to the beach in her free time…Lists New Girl, Stranger Things and The Vampire Diaries as her favorite TV shows…Names the US Women’s National Team as her favorite team…Lists Julie Ertz as her favorite sports figure…Lists traveling to Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland to play soccer as one of her fondest sports memories…Hopes to open her own physical therapy practice someday.

 Why UMass Lowell: “I really like the campus, and my coaches and teammates are very nice. It felt like one big family. Also, UMass Lowell has a very good exercise science program.”


Name: Saga Hollbrink

Hometown/High School: Stockholm, Sweden / Solna Gymnasium

Position: Defense

Height: 5-11

Club Team: Boo FF

Major/Minor: Business Administration


High School/Previous School: Captain of her state team as a junior…Guided her team to third place at the Swedish Championship as a sophomore…Invited to Sweden’s National Team Camp her freshman and sophomore year…Earned first at the U19 Swedish Championship as a sophomore…Helped her team win first at the Swedish Championship her freshman year…Two-time captain of the U16 State Team…U16 Gothia Cup Winner.  

 Personal: Daughter of Fredrik Hollbrink and Linda Berg…Has a younger sibling (Tuva)…Mother (Linda) played on the Swedish National Softball team from 1994 to 1998…Enjoys traveling…Lists Million Dollar Listing: New York as her favorite TV show…Names AIK her favorite sports team…Lists her Swedish National Championship and Gothia titles as some of her fondest sports moments. 

 Why UMass Lowell: “I felt like it was a really good fit for me. It’s a great school with great academics located on the East Coast!”


Name: Emma Mitchell

Hometown/High School: West Orange, N.J. / West Orange

Position: Defense

Height: 5-3

Club Team: PDA

Major/Minor: Elementary School Education


High School/Previous School: Played soccer at West Orange High School…Named Captain of her team senior year…Earned the Mountaineer Pride Award as a senior…Two-time SEC American Division First Team nominee…Helped her team win the North 1 Group 4 State Section Championship, Essex County Championship, and SEC American League Championship in her sophomore year…Tabbed to the SEC American Division Second Team her sophomore year…Won the U17 ECNL National Championship with PDA as a sophomore…Helped her team win the SEC Liberty Division Championship as a freshman…Given the West Orange High School 3D Art Award…Made the honor roll all four years at West Orange.

Personal: Daughter of Meredith and James Mitchell…Has one sibling, Sidda…Enjoys drawing, painting and photography in her spare time…Lists New Girl and That 70s Show as her favorite TV shows…Names the Ohio State Buckeyes Football team as her favorite team to watch…Lists Carli Lloyd as her favorite sports inspiration…Remembers winning the State Sectional Championship her sophomore year of high school as her fondest sports moment…Hopes to either work with kids in the classroom or coach soccer after UMass Lowell.

Why UMass Lowell: “I chose UMass Lowell because the coaching staff and soccer team were very welcoming when I visited. I liked the location of the school, as it isn’t too far from home or too close. I was excited that UMass Lowell also gave me plenty of options when choosing a major.”


Name: Lærke Niklasson

Hometown/High School: Roskilde, Denmark/Roskilde Katedralskole

Position: Forward

Height: 5-4

Club Team: HB Køge

Major/Minor: Public Health


High School/Previous School: Played soccer at Roskilde Katedralskole…Won the 2021 Danish Championship with HB Køge.

Personal:  Daughter of Tine Jensen and Søren Niklasson…Has one sibling, Jeppe…Enjoys hanging out with friends and family, paddle boarding and being active as some of her favorite hobbies…Lists Chelsea as her favorite sports team…Names Pernille Harder as her favorite athlete…Hopes to continue playing soccer after her collegiate career.

Why UMass Lowell: “Talking to the staff felt like home. It’s a dream come true to play soccer and get an education in the states.”


Name: Ioanna Papatheodorou

Hometown/High School: Nea Erithraia, Greece/Anaxagoreio General

Position: Forward

Height: 5-5

Club Team: Atromitos FC

Major/Minor: Exercise Science


High School/Previous School: Played for her club team, Atromitos FC, based in Athens, Greece…Selected as a midfielder to play for the Greece women’s national football team in 2019.

Personal: Daughter of Maria Antoniou and Dimitris Papatheodorou…Has two siblings (Chris, 22 and Vassiliki, 19)…Enjoys playing backgammon and watching Netflix …Lists Lucifer and the Outer Banks as her favorite TV shows…Names Paris Saint Germain F.C. her favorite sports team…Lists Neymar and Kylian Mbappé as some of her favorite athletes.

Why UMass Lowell: “The reason I chose UMass Lowell was because of the great opportunitys the school provides me both academically and athletically .”


Name: Lisa Sjögren  

Hometown/High School: Skellefteå, Sweden/Anderstorpsgymnasiet

Position: Goalkeeper

Height: 5-8

Club Team: Sunnanå SK

Major/Minor: Business Administration


High School/Previous School: Played on the Swedish Youth National Team…Served as captain of Sunnanå SK for two consecutive seasons…Won the 2019 Division I Championship with Sunnanå SK…Won the 2018 District Championship with Sunnanå SK…Invited to the U16 Swedish National Team camp.

Personal: Daughter of Annica Sjogren and Patrik Granlund…Has two siblings, Alex (15) and Alice (23)…Enjoys hanging out with friends and family in her free time…Lists the Swedish Program Best in Test as her favorite TV show…Names Skelleftea AIK Hockey as her favorite professional team…Hopes to play soccer and travel the world after UMass Lowell.

Why UMass Lowell: “It seemed like a good and serious school with lots of possibilities. It’s a place where you can grow as a person and soccer player. I also got a good impression of the coaches from the start.”


Name: Morgan Wesson

Hometown/High School: Monson, Mass. / Wilbraham & Monson Academy

Position: Goalkeeper

Height: 5-8

Club Team: NEFC West

Major/Minor: Undeclared


High School/Previous School: Played soccer and ran track at Wilbraham & Monson…Three-time MVP…Three-time WNEPSSA All-Star Player…Earned the Most-Improved Defensive Player award as a freshman…2019 National Cup XVIII U16 Super Group Champion.

Personal: Daughter of Shannon and Eric Wesson…Has one sibling (Daniel, 21), who is an accomplished Riflery athlete…Enjoys watching sports and working out in her free time…Lists Shameless as her favorite TV show…Names the Patriots, Bruins, Red Sox and USWNT as her favorite sports teams…Lists Rob Gronkowski as her favorite athlete.

Why UMass Lowell: “I chose Lowell because of the engaging environment it has. The school has proven to have very high-level coaches who are very supportive of their athletes.”


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