SAINT LEO, Fla. – The Saint Leo women's lacrosse team and head coach Lesley Graham announced the addition of seven signees in the fall signing period. The new Lions joining the squad in the 2016-17 school year will be Lexie Walstad, Bailee Hurd, Lauren O'Connell, Sabrina Sanacore, Leah Sherman, Sara Gianino and Delaney Chrisco.
"We are really excited about our class of 2020," Graham said of her newest additions. "They all individually bring a great depth of talent and knowledge of the game as well as their unique style and personalities that fit into the culture we have established here at Saint Leo. They will each bring something different to the team while collectively making us stronger and more prepared for the future."
5-6 | Attack | Chanhassen, Minn.
Chanhassen High School
Walstad has been on varsity since her eighth grade season at Chanhassen High. She earned a spot on the Brine All-American team after the 2014-2015 season. The Minnesota native also collected a few more accolades at her time in high school, receiving the MVP award at the Indian Prairie Showdown Tournament as well as earning Honorable Mention on her high school team in 2015.
Walstad on why she chose Saint Leo
"I chose to go to Saint Leo University to play lacrosse because while I was on my college search, as soon as I stepped on this campus, it felt like home. The atmosphere was everything I was looking for and it was even better that my sister [Kaylah Walstad] is on the team. Through her I was able to meet the rest of the girls on the team and I really felt like I was a good fit for the program."
Walstad on what she plans on bringing to the program
"I plan on bringing my individual skill set and positive attitude to the Lions to help us work together to be a winning team."
5-4 | Midfield | Palm Coast, Fla.
Matanzas High School
Hurd has spent her four years at Matanzas High as a varsity starter. The Florida native earned the Most Improved Award her freshman year with one goal and 10 assists. The next year she quickly turned her one goal into 32, while leading the team in scoring. In her junior season, she received the Outstanding Offensive Award with 52 goals as the leading scorer once again. The midfielder was named captain her junior and senior year along with earning the captain band for her high school's cheerleading team. Off the field, she is an avid participant in the Best Buddies club; a program for creating one-on-one friendships and opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She stays active in the community as a volunteer lacrosse coach for younger girls through the Blue Skies Lacrosse club team.
Hurd on why she chose Saint Leo
"I chose Saint Leo to continue my career in lacrosse and education because of the school's size and beautiful architecture and facilities. The University is a smaller school, which will benefit my academic needs in class size and teacher closeness. Furthermore, Coach Graham and Coach Nutter are talented coaches that lead a team that seems like a welcoming family. I cannot wait to be a Lion!"
Hurd on what she plans to bring to the program
"I plan to bring to Saint Leo as both an athlete and person, leadership and energy. I will always push myself to be better than the day before with resilience. I want to be out on the field contributing to the team's success in any way possible. However, what I would most like to bring to the program is a teammate the other girls can count on."
5-5 | Defense/Midfield | Pembroke Pines, Fla.
West Broward High School
In her junior season, O'Connell recorded 96 ground balls, 73 draw controls (75% win ratio), 63 forced turn overs, 32 goals and 13 assists. Throughout her high school career, the Florida native has acquired a few accolades including; first team All-Broward County, First Team All-District and First Team All-Region and she was a nominee for All American. She was also named a captain for high school team. Off the field, Hurd was a 13-year member of the Girl Scouts, a DECA communications officer, a PAWS member, and a Best Buddies member.
O'Connell on why she chose Saint Leo
"I chose Saint Leo to continue my playing career and education because it had everything that I was looking for in a home and away from home. I had visited a lot of other campuses over the last few years and every time I saw a campus I did not quite get that 'home' feeling, but as soon as I stepped foot on Saint Leo's campus, I knew I was home."
O'Connell on what she plans to bring to the program
"I plan on bringing positive attitude, hard work ethic, and determination."
5-1 | Attack | Saint Johns, Fla.
Creekside High School
Sanacore was a four-year varsity starter for Creekside High, leading in both goals and assists in her junior year. She was named All-County Second Team and was selected to try-out for the national team. Sanacore also thrived in the classroom as she took AP classes throughout all years in high school. The high school standout has multiple engineering certifications including; AutoCAD, Inventor, and Revit.
Sanacore on why she chose Saint Leo
"As soon as I visited the campus it felt like it was a second home. After meeting the coaches and the team, I knew it was going to be a great fit for me."
Sanacore on what she plans to bring to the program
"I plan on bringing my positive attitude and motivation to improve."
5-6 | Defense | Springfield, Pa.
Springfield High School
Sherman was a four-year varsity high school defender, and played successfully for her club team, Phananstix, for three seasons. On the field she is always pushing people to do their best. In her community, she has participated in the Steve Stefani Dance Marathon to raise money for cancer. The Keystone State native also cares for, and rescues, stray or homeless animals around her community.
Sherman on why she chose Saint Leo
"I chose Saint Leo to continue my playing career and my education because I fell in love with the campus and the team. They both were such a perfect fit for my future."
Sherman on what she plans on bringing to the program
"I plan on bringing a positive attitude on and off the field by working hard and putting everything I have into everything I do. As a player, I will push myself to become better every day and in result being a small part of something much bigger than myself."
5-3 | Defense | Coral Springs, Fla.
Saint Thomas Aquinas High School
Gianino was a varsity athlete at Saint Thomas Aquinas High School. The Florida native was named the Impact Player of the Year and Defender of the Year in 2015. She was also a standout in the classroom as she was a four-year member of the National Honor Society and found herself on the Honor Roll.
Gianino on why she chose Saint Leo
"Choosing where to spend such an important chapter in your life is difficult and a very stressful decision. Everyone wants to have that 'feeling' when looking at universities and I was lucky enough to get it. As soon as I stepped foot on Saint Leo's beautiful campus, I had the feeling everyone wishes for. I chose Saint Leo for the tradition, the structure, and an atmosphere that I am comfortable with spending my next four years in. I just fell in love with the feel of the school. My future coaches were very welcoming which excited me and everyone I spoke to that previously went to Saint Leo only had positive things to say. I am confident in my decision and am excited for fall!"
Gianino on what she plans to bring to the program
"As an athlete, I plan on bringing depth and strength to the program. My goal is to enhance my skills and have fun playing the game of lacrosse. As a person, I plan on bringing a positive attitude and make lifelong friends with my teammates."
5-8 | Midfield | Wilmington, Del.
Chrisco was not only a three-sport athlete in high school, but a four-year varsity starter in lacrosse, basketball and field hockey at Caravel Academy. The Diamond State native racked up the awards in lacrosse throughout her four years. In her freshman year, she was named offensive Most Valuable Player and Second Team All-Conference. In her second year, she earned a spot on First Team All-Conference, was named captain, played on the national team, and was named Offensive MVP once again. In her junior year, she earned First Team All-Conference, once again was named team captain, continued to play on the national team, Jaguar achievement and offensive MVP. By her senior year, she netted 177 goals, earned Second Team All-State at midfield and has earned three Offensive MVP awards. She was named varsity captain of in basketball in both her junior and senior years as well. In the classroom, she has tabbed a spot as an Academic All-American and Academic All-Conference for all three of her sports every semester of high school. The National Honors Society member also stays connected to her community by volunteering at the Sportsmanship Blue Gold Bible Club, the Lodge Lane Retirement Center, and the Delaware School for the Deaf.
Chrisco on why she chose Saint Leo
"I chose Saint Leo due to the fact that I knew I was going to be able to continue my lacrosse career while balancing academics and challenging myself to become the best I can be. As soon as I stepped on the campus I knew I wanted Saint Leo to be my home for the next four years and being around the coaches and players solidified my decision."
Chrisco on what she plans to bring to the program
"I plan to bring my leadership skills and intensity to the program as I never give up on myself or others. I am a really understanding and respectful person, so I can be there for anyone as encouragement. I will also bring my spatial awareness and speed on the field to help my team excel to the next level to be successful."