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Lady Lions Add Six to Spring Roster

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Lady Lions Add Six to Spring Roster

WJAA Gio Cruz is arguably the most recognizable recruit to join Lindenwood this semester.

We’ve mentioned Billy Nicholas and Lindenwood University a lot recently, but that’s because he’s been popping up all over the country. Now in his second semester with the St. Charles, Mo., program, Nicholas has hit the recruiting trail with vigor, and the effort’s paying off.

“We are a very small program compared to larger DI schools,” Nicholas said. “We have a great culture here, but the one thing we didn't have when playoffs hit last fall was team depth, and that is something we as a program have and continue to address as we build for the future.”

Lindenwood has signed six new athletes for the spring season, and they hail from every corner of the U.S. The most recognizable of the bunch is sophomore Gioanna Cruz, a Women’s Junior All American (WJAA) who is transferring from DI varsity American International College. An aggressive flanker, she was a highlight during last summer’s Can Am tour.

Freshman Tiffany Person from TC Williams High School in Virginia has the most diverse international experience. The leggy forward has not only joined the Atlantis Women on tour but also traveled with the first-ever Youth Olympic Games 7s team to China last summer, where the Americans played Australia, China and Spain, among others. Person will reunite with fellow junior Olympian and freshman Dana Olsen, who rejoins the squad after injury.

Oregon State will miss junior Kendal McCracken, another former WJAA. A standout during the college 7s championships, McCracken came up through the Snow Canyon (Utah) program and has trained with the USA 7s in Chula Vista.

The Fullerton (Calif.) program has shared a unique relationship with DII’s Notre Dame College, but now AnnaKaren Pedraza is breaking tradition and joining Lindenwood. The incoming freshman will receive some extra tuning, as she joins the Atlantis U19s at the Las Vegas Invitational in two weeks.

The remaining recruits come from as far, and as near, as two players could: Joyce Taufa hails from Laie, Hawaii, where she attended Kahuku High School; and softball crossover Danielle Dub will make a short trip from Ladue, Mo., to join the Lady Lions.

“The girls here have a program-first mentality, and that is tough to foster, but it’s possible,” Nicholas said. “Our program and the girls really have done their part to show that Lindenwood women's rugby is a movement and it will be here to shake things up a bit the next few years to come. We don't expect overnight success here; we are perfectly content with small strides and accomplishing our short-term goals before we get to long term. I'm very proud to coach this great group of student athletes who continue to impress me each day.”

The new-look Lindenwood will retake the pitch in March, lining up against DI Indiana and DII Davenport, and then heading over to the Nebraska 7s to kick off its 7s season.