The Issaquah Soccer Club Gunners, a youth soccer club, recently had three former players commit to play at the collegiate level.
Former Gunners defender Megan Sullivan committed to play for the Washington State University women’s soccer team this fall. Sullivan, a former soccer and basketball player at Issaquah High School, helped the Eagles girls soccer team to a state 4A championship in 2017 as a junior.
After attending a soccer camp in Pullman, Sullivan knew she wanted to play for the Cougars.
“Washington State University is about being the underdog,” Sullivan said. “I felt like I belonged.”
Amanda Axelson, the college placement coordinator for the Gunners, helps players like Sullivan understand the college recruitment process. Along with her role with the Gunners, Axelson is also a volunteer coach with the Seattle Pacific women’s soccer team.
For Axelson, seeing athletes move on to play at the college level is the best part of her job. According to Axelson, Sullivan worked hard to end up where she is now.
“She’s so energetic,” Axelson said. “She works hard for what she wants. She wanted to be a Coug.”
As a member of the Gunners since she was in the fourth grade, Sullivan had the opportunity of playing alongside other talented players who have gone on to play at the collegiate level. Sullivan said being around other skilled players made her raise her game. In her time as a Gunner, she was also positively influenced by the coaching staff, specifically head coach Alex Cunliffe.
“[Cunliffe] inspired me to be a strong, vocal player,” Sullivan said.
The highlight of Sullivan’s time as a member of the Gunners came in 2017 when her U19 team won the 2017 Surf Cup Super Black Championship, a premier youth soccer tournament in California featuring teams from across the country.
Going into her first season with the Cougars, Sullivan is hoping to get out on the field, but she knows it can be difficult to get minutes as a freshman. Sullivan said she is more focused on team goals and cheering on her teammates from the sidelines.
“It would be great to get some play time,” Sullivan said. “But more importantly, the team has goals to go far into the NCAA tournament.”
Last year, the Cougars made it to the second round of the NCAA National Championships before being knocked out by Georgetown, 1-0.
Along with Sullivan, two other former Gunners have recently committed to playing college soccer. Andrei Datol, a former member of the Sammamish High School boys soccer team, committed to playing with Bellevue Community College as a freshman. Karlee Stueckle, a former two-sport athlete at Emerald Ridge High School, will be joining the women’s soccer team at the University of Washington as a sophomore. Stueckle also competes in track and field for the Huskies.