Eagan High School retires Olson’s number

by Nick Gerhardt

Eagan High School made room for another hanging jersey last week when they honored Minnesota freshman forward Angie Olson by retiring her soccer number.

Olson joined former Gophers hockey standout and Eagan alumna Natalie Darwitz as the only Eagan athletes to ever have their numbers retired.

“She’s one of the best players to ever come out of Eagan high school,” junior and former Wildcat teammate Clare Grimwood said.

A four-year varsity player, Olson received considerable recognition during her time at Eagan.

Her senior season of 2006 remains one of the greatest in recent memory when she set single season school records in goals (29) and assists (25).

She garnered awards by the bundle following that impressive year as she received the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Player of the Year for Minnesota, won the Minnesota Ms. Soccer award, and was named a NSCAA/Adidas High School All-American.

Olson personifies the Gophers’ recruiting philosophy of retaining in-state talent in order to build a strong, long-lasting program.

“We tell them you’re here to change our program,” coach Mikki Denney Wright said. “They get an opportunity to take a program and bring it to the top of the Big Ten.”

When Olson decided to attend Minnesota, she became part of one of the school’s most-touted recruiting classes in its history.

Soccer Buzz magazine ranked the freshmen class as No. 45 in the nation, the second-highest place for the program. The sophomore class remains the best recruiting class with their No. 13 ranking last season.

In the past four years with Denney Wright at the helm, Minnesota has landed recruiting classes ranked in the top 100 in the country.

“The rise in talent has been unbelievable,” Denney Wright said.

Much of the reason the talent level has risen recently stems from the efforts of assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Kate Cortis.

“Coach Kate, I feel, is the best in the nation,” Denney Wright said. “I don’t know if people realize what she’s done as far as recruiting the best players here.”

Including Olson, the Gophers have nine freshmen on this year’s squad and many boast the same credentials as Olson.

Minnesota kept top in-state prospects when they brought in Julie Rezac, who also earned NSCAA All-American status and won the Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year award while finishing the year as an All-State selection for the third consecutive year.

Kylie Kallman, Katie Roberts and Molly Rouse each received All-State recognition for two years in a row.

“I thought it was cool that they recruited a lot of great freshmen from Minnesota,” Olson said.

Soccer Buzz rated out-of-state players Katie Bethke and Jennie Clark as top recruits for 2007.

Playing time serves as a determining factor in recruiting efforts and these freshmen are not only seeing the playing field immediately but are making an impact early into the season.

Olson, Bethke, Rezac, Rouse and Kallman have played in all four games this season. Last weekend, Bethke, Rouse and Rezac each recorded her first collegiate goals in routs of Providence and Dartmouth.

“Freshmen get an opportunity to play right away, and they’re here to make a difference,” Denney Wright said. “When they graduate, I want them to say, ‘look at the impact I made.’ “