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Pilots shore up future goalkeeping with UCLA transfer

Incoming sophomore played for the U. S. national team

The Portland Pilots' newest soccer player will sit out 2006 due to national team commitments, but then Kelsey Davis can play three seasons for the reigning NCAA champions.

Davis, who plays for the United States under-20 national team, transferred Thursday from 2005 NCAA runner-up UCLA, where she had spent one season.

'I fell in love with the town,' Davis says of her decision to come to Portland. 'I was looking for a change of scenery, having grown up and lived in Southern California my whole life. I wanted to go to a smaller school with good academics, and the soccer program at Portland is just amazing. It seemed like a place where I can grow and I'm really excited about joining the team.'

The 5-10 Davis is no stranger to some of her new Pilot teammates. In 2004, she teamed with Stephanie Lopez, Angie Woznuk and Megan Rapinoe for the U.S. under-19 team at the FIFA World Championships in Thailand. Davis has been a member of youth national teams for the last five years; she and Lopez play for the under-20 team, which will compete in the 2006 FIFA world championships Aug. 17-Sept. 3 in Russia.

During qualifying for the world championships in January, Davis started three of the five matches for the U-20 squad, allowing three goals and recording one shutout in 270 minutes. She was in goal for a 3-0 semifinal win over Mexico and a 3-2 championship victory over Canada.

'Kelsey is a world-class goalkeeper,' UP coach Garrett Smith says. 'She brings a wealth of maturity to the position from her extended international experience. Kelsey has the most proven talent of any incoming goalkeeper in our program's history, and with our two current keepers being seniors (Cori Alexander and Ruth Gilliam), the timing will work out great as we will not rely on two incoming freshmen to fill the goalkeeper role in 2007.'

In her only season at UCLA, Davis appeared in eight games, including two starts. She did not allow a goal in 298 minutes, while making eight saves. She recorded one shutout, making five saves in a 3-0 win over Oregon. Davis did not appear in the championship game against UP.

Davis joins five other freshmen in a recruiting class that was rated No. 12 nationally by Soccer Buzz. The list includes the No. 2 international recruit (Sophie Schmidt), the No. 7 individual recruit (Kendra Chandhoke) and a top 50 individual prospect (Michelle Enyeart). Schmidt also will redshirt the 2006 season due to Canadian national team commitments.

'This group of incoming players is phenomenal,' Smith says. 'We have compensated for the loss of four seniors by bringing in six quality individuals. Next year is looking bright, and 2007 is looking even better as Kelsey and Sophie will be eager and ready to contribute.'