Feb. 3, 2016
By Joanne Norell
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Three additional prospective student-athletes officially committed to the University of Notre Dame women’s soccer program Wednesday, signing National Letters of Intent to continue their academic and athletic careers with the Fighting Irish beginning in the fall of 2016.
Goalkeeper Brooke Littman (Palos Verdes, California/Palos Verdes High School/Real So Cal), defender Alexis Martel-Lamothe (Ottawa, Ontario/CollÃƒÆ’Â¨ge Catholique Samuel-Genest/Ottawa Fury) and defender Samantha Zepponi (Sebastapol, California/Analy High School/Santa Rosa United) signed National Letters of Intent on the first day of the women’s soccer signing period. They will join early-enrollee, forward Jennifer Westendorf (Grayson, Georgia/Gwinnett High School/GSA), as freshmen this fall.
“We are very excited about what our 2016 class will bring to this program,” head coach Theresa Romagnolo said. “They are an exceptional group of soccer players, as well as people, and we look forward to them excelling in all facets of their life here at Notre Dame.”
The Irish return 23 players from last year’s roster, including six players who started at least 14 games last season. The 2015 Irish finished 14-5-1 and qualified for their 23rd consecutive NCAA Championship. Among Notre Dame’s senior leaders will be goalkeeper Kaela Little, forward Kaleigh Olmsted and midfielder Sandra Yu. Soon-to-be junior midfielder Sabrina Flores and defender Monica Flores will also return as key contributors from 2015, as will rising sophomore forward Natalie Jacobs.
BROOKE LITTMAN, 5-8, GK (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., Palos Verdes High School, Real So Cal ECNL)
Club Highlights: Member of Real So Cal ECNL… advanced to national playoffs four straight years … two-time Surf Cup champions … overall goals against average less than 0.800 … went 13 straight games without giving up a goal … named MVP of the Surf Cup … named to the Region IV ODP Best XI in Boca Raton, Florida (November 2015) …
Prep and Personal: Will graduate from Palos Verdes High School in June 2016 … played four years of varsity soccer … member of the National Honor Society … is a California Scholarship Federation Gold Seal Bearer … named a California Scholar with Honors … given the Marie Loman Award and Gold and Silver Presidential Awards … daughter of Michael and Tricia Littman … both parents played collegiate soccer, Michael at Cal State Northridge and Tricia at Cal State Dominguez Hills and Sonoma State … father also played professionally for 14 years, including stints with the L.A. Galaxy, L.A. Heat, Utah Blitz, OC Zodiac and OC Wave … father is currently and assistant coach with the University of San Francisco women’s program … has two younger brothers, Zackary and Kyle … full name is Brooke Alexandra Littman … will enroll in the First Year of Studies with plans to study orthopedic medicine.
Did You Know?: Is a member of Las NiÃƒÆ’Â±as de las Madrecitas, a junior auxiliary of the Charitable Childrens Guild of the Orthopaedic Institute for Children in downtown Los Angeles.
Romagnolo on Brooke Littman: “Brooke is a high level goalkeeper who is athletic and strong. She is good with the ball at her feet and is a great competitor who will challenge the goalkeeper group.”
ALEXIS MARTEL-LAMOTHE, 5-10, D (Ottawa, Ontario, CollÃƒÆ’Â¨ge Catholique Samuel-Genest,Ottawa Fury/QuÃƒÆ’Â¨bec REX)
Club/National Team Highlights: Member of Canada’s Elite National Program, REX (Regional EXCEL Women’s Program) … member of QuÃƒÆ’Â¨bec REX since April 2015, played with Ontario REX from May 2014 to March 2015 … selected to Canada U20 Women’s National Team for the 2015 CONCACAF Championship, winning silver and a bid to the 2016 FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup … called up to U23 national camp as center back in May 2015 … played with the QuÃƒÆ’Â¨bec Senior Selection Team against France Sr. WNT in Laval, QuÃƒÆ’Â¨bec … selected to the Ontario Soccer Association U15 and U16 Provincial Teams and co-captained Team Ontario … U15 Provincial Team went 4-0-0 in international contests in France … co-captained Ontario U15 All-Star Team to gold medal win at Nationals Tournament in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
Prep and Personal: Will graduate early from CollÃƒÆ’Â¨ge Catholique Samuel-Genest in February 2016 … daughter of Henri Lamothe and France Martel … has two older sisters, Pascale and Dominique … sister Dominique is a track and field athlete at the University of Ottawa … sister Pascale played water polo at the University of Ottawa … was selected as the most outstanding student in Biology in Grade 12 … full name is Alexis Muriel Martel-Lamothe … will enroll in the First Year of Studies with plans to study neurology and psychology.
Did You Know?: Moved from Ottawa to Toronto (280 miles) at age 15 to participate in the Ontario REX program with a goal of representing Canada at the senior Women’s National Team level … has a passion for music and composition and has achieved a Royal Music Conservatory Grade 9 equivalent … took piano lessons via Skype while living away from home.
Romagnolo on Alexis Martel-Lamothe: “Lexi Martel-Lamothe is one of the top center backs at her age group. She most recently helped the U20 Canadian national team qualify for the 2016 FIFA U20 World Cup. She is a strong defender and also very good at possessing out of the back. We expect her to have an immediate impact.”
SAMANTHA ZEPPONI, 5-4, D (Sebastopol, Calif., Analy High School, Santa Rosa United)
Club Highlights: Member of the Santa Rosa United Freeze from U8 to U18 … advanced to the ECNL finals in 2015 … ECNL playoff team 2013-15 after joining league in 2012 … won a California state cup with SRU in 2010 …
Prep and Personal: Will graduate from Analy High School in June 2016 … played four years of soccer, earning one letter … two-time MVP and Player of the Year (2014-15) for the Sonoma County League … 2013 SCL MVP for defense … four-time SCL First Team honoree … three-time All-Empire, All-League … four-time SCL team champions … four-time Eye of the Tiger Tournament champions … was Analy’s leading goal-scorer as a freshman … daughter of Mario Zepponi and Tonia Zepponi … father attended Notre Dame (1986-88) … has an older brother, Anthony, and older sister, Colette … brother plays rugby at Occidental College … sister played soccer for one year at UC San Diego … mother competed in gymnastics at Sonoma State University … full name is Samantha Aurora Lorraine Zepponi … will enroll in the First Year of Studies with plans to study psychology or Earth sciences.
Did You Know?: Invited to try out for the junior Paris St. Germaine Club, a feeder club the junior French National Team in 2010 … … member of Global Student Embassy and Leadership Class … travelled with GSE to Nicaragua to construct an irrigation system and enhance nutrition in the soil … involved with Analy’s Student Body, raising money for various organizations and helping incoming freshmen.
Romagnolo on Samantha Zepponi: “Zepponi is a powerful athlete who will complement our back line. She is strong and fast and loves to attack out of the back. She will bring a different dimension to complement our style of play.”
Joanne Norell, athletics communications assistant at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2014 and coordinates communications efforts for the Notre Dame women’s soccer, men’s tennis, women’s tennis and fencing programs. Norell is a 2011 graduate of Purdue University and earned her master’s degree from Georgetown University in 2013.