Michigan State women’s soccer has traditionally recruited mid-Michigan area talent, and the Spartans’ incoming 2014 class includes two players who could be the strike force of the future — Lansing Christian’s Kristy Gomez and Kristelle Yewah of Okemos.
Both are accomplished strikers, with contrasting styles that have already shown to have meshed well. Gomez and Yewah are close friends who have been teammates for most of their soccer-playing lives.
“We played on a team when we were in elementary school,” Yewah said, “and we started playing club (soccer) on TNT in the eighth grade, right up until senior year. It’s pretty cool to be going into college soccer with one of your really good friends.”
The two friends will pursue the same course of study at Michigan State, and for the same reason.
“I want to go into physical therapy,” Gomez said. “I’ve kind of always around sports, so that would be cool.”
“I’m going into sports medicine, maybe,” Yewah said in a separate interview. “I want to be around sports when I physically can’t play sports anymore.”
Gomez and Yewah will join Lansing area products Courtney Clem and Lisa Vogel from Williamston, Erica Goodenough from DeWitt and Sarah Kovan from Okemos on the 2014 Spartan roster. Another Okemos alumna, Kelsey Mullen, was MSU’s lone senior in 2013. Kovan and Yewah were the last two Lansing State Journal Dream Team Players of the Year.
MSU coach Tom Saxton said that both are Big Ten-level athletes, but that Yewah probably has the best chance to play right away, mostly due to a torn knee ligament that Gomez suffered prior to her junior year which required three operations to repair and cost her nearly the entire 2013 season for the Pilgrims.
“Kristelle has a high soccer IQ, excellent skills, she times her runs very well, and even though she’s a strong target player she has a great finesse to her game,” Saxton said. “Kristy is more of a classic power player, fantastic in the air, which is one of the things that really put us on to her. She’s very fast, and to be frank, needs to develop some polish at this level. She’s had an ACL injury since committing to us so we’ll be patient with her, but I think she has a huge upside.”
Gomez has been a dominant player for her entire high school career. She was a member of the LSJ Dream Team and made the Division 4 all-state first team in both her freshman and sophomore years. She tallied 43 goals and six assists in helping the Pilgrims to their first state final appearance in the ninth grade.
“I remember her as a 14-year-old freshman coming in wide-eyed and thinking that she’s going to play JV soccer her first year,” Lansing Christian coach Joel VandeKopple said. “Then, she scores five goals in her first game and it’s like, ‘OK, this is different’.”
Yewah said that hometown support was a major factor in her decision to attend MSU.
“I’ve grown up around Michigan State for so long, always went to the soccer games, and remember seeing Kelsey Mullen get the support of people coming to the games. I really liked that,” she said.
That sort of familiarity is important to Gomez as well.
“I’ve been a Spartan fan forever, since I was little,” she said. “We’ve been playing together for a long time, for TNT. It’s kind of been like our little dream to keep playing together.”