NEW YORK – Columbia head field hockey coach Marybeth Freeman announced the Lions’ 2012 recruiting class on Friday. Liz Cruz, Christina Freibott, Corinne Mattia, Kimberly Pianucci, Anna Scipioni and Lindsey Walter have committed and will join the program starting in the 2012-13 academic year.

“We are very excited to welcome this talented, enthusiastic and well-balanced group of women into our Columbia program,” Columbia head field hockey coach Marybeth Freeman said. “Having watched these student athletes excel in the classroom and on the field, we are confident each of them will be a key component to our team successes in the 2012 season and beyond.”

Liz Cruz – Forward | Beesley’s Point, N.J. | Ocean City High School
WHY COLUMBIA: “Aside from the education, field hockey program and location, I loved the culture and diversity Columbia University offers.”

Cruz was a four-year varsity letterwinner and team captain as a senior. Ocean City was 82-5-1 during Cruz’s career and 64-0 in the Cape-Atlantic League American Conference. She finished her high school career with 76 goals and 42 assists. Cruz enjoyed a stellar senior campaign in which she scored 25 goals and tallied 12 assists.

Noted for her speed, Cruz got better with each year, garnering All-Cape-Atlantic League American Conference honors all four seasons (2008-11), all-Press of Atlantic City first team All-Star honors three times and Star-Ledger All-Group 4 first team honors as a senior. Cruz was also named the Press of Atlantic City’s 2011 Field Hockey Player of the Year. She played on three South Jersey Champions title teams from 2008-10 and won a state title in 2009. Cruz also participated in the National Futures Championship from 2007-10, winning gold in 2008 and 2010. She competed in the Junior Olympics in 2009 and 2010, winning gold in 2010.

Cruz was a National Honor Society member in 2010 and 2011 and was also an AP Scholar. Cruz is also the younger sister of former Columbia field hockey player Jen Cruz. Her club team was the Spirit of USA.

FREEMAN ON CRUZ: “Liz has a tremendous amount of playing experience and brings a wealth of knowledge to our squad Not only will her speed be present on the forward line, but her ability to find the goal and see the game as a whole will be a valuable threat. With her sound technical skills, we are looking forward to watching her hockey abilities excel and grow.”

Christina Freibott – Midfielder | Wilmington, Del. | Tower Hill School
WHY COLUMBIA: “From the moment I walked onto campus, I knew that Columbia was the school for me. The beautiful campus is in the center of one of the world’s most fascinating cities, and coupled with superb academics, what greater combination could there be? Meeting with the awesome coaching staff only made my decision to choose Columbia that much easier, and I can't wait to play for them this fall!”

Freibott was a four-year varsity letterwinner and team captain as a senior. Tower Hill School enjoyed a dominant reign during Freibott’s career, winning the state championship in her first season, finishing as the state runner-up her sophomore and junior years and finishing as a state quarter-finalist her senior season. As a senior in 2011, Freibott totaled 13 goals and 26 assists.

She garnered All-Delaware Independent State Conference first team honors three times and was a Delaware High School Field Hockey Coaches Association first-team All-State selection as a junior and a senior. Freibott also competed in the National Futures Championship from 2008-11 and earned bronze medals in the 2009 and 2010 Junior Olympics. Her club team was Xcalibur Justice.

Freibott, who was a distinguished scholar with honors from 2010-11 at Tower Hill School, was a multi-sport star. She was a two-time all-state diver and a three-time all-state soccer player. Freibott was a high school teammate of current Columbia first-year midfielder Zoe Blake.

FREEMAN ON FREIBOTT: “Christina is a technically savvy midfielder whose understanding of playing systems and tactical awareness make her the dominate presence on the field. With her natural athleticism and hockey knowledge she is exceedingly fun to watch and I know she will come to Columbia and make an immediate positive impact on the program and those around her. She’s a game changer!”

Corinne Mattia – Back | Chester Springs, Pa. | Owen J. Roberts
WHY BARNARD: “I chose Barnard because it is a great fit for a college to achieve my dream of playing Division I field hockey and getting a world-class education in the coolest city in the United States while having access to another top-ranked school, Columbia.”

Mattia was a four-year varsity letterwinner and a two-time All-Pioneer Athletic Conference and all-area selection. Owen J. Roberts won the Pioneer Athletic Conference in Mattia’s junior and senior seasons. Mattia’s strengths as a scorer and a passer helped the Wildcats earn a spot in the district semifinals and a PIAA state tournament berth this year. She is coming off a senior campaign in which she scored 12 goals and tallied a team-high 22 assists. In 2011, Mattia also earned second team All- Southeastern Pennsylvania honors.

She played club hockey with the X-Calibur U19 Liberty and competed in the National Indoor Tournament in 2010. Mattia’s team took second in the 2010 National Indoor Collegiate Showcase and she was selected to play in the all-star game.

Mattia, who will enroll in Barnard College, was a National Honor Society and National Spanish Honor Society member.

FREEMAN ON MATTIA: “The fact that Corinne is a back and still finds the goal says a tremendous amount about her hockey ability. Not only does she possess the skills to be a stellar defender, but in critical plays, she shines the most. Her strength on the ball and poise in her possession skills make us excited to begin working with her and eager to see the contributions she will be able to make to the program.”

Kimberly Pianucci – Goalkeeper | Glen Gardner, N.J. | Voorhees
WHY COLUMBIA: “I chose Columbia because it will provide me with countless academic and athletic opportunities. The academics are among the best in the world, the campus is beautiful, the location is perfect and the coaches and players are awesome.”

Pianucci was a three-year varsity letterwinner and team captain in 2011. As a sophomore in 2009, she posted 11 shutouts and was named an All-Skyland Conference Honorable Mention. Pianucci enjoyed a breakout junior season in 2010 when she posted a .904 save percentage and 14 shutouts and continued to improve as a senior in 2011 with a .932 save percentage and nine shutouts.

Pianucci was named to the Star-Ledger’s 2010 All-State Third Team. Her junior and senior years, she also received All-Group 2, All-West Jersey, All-Skyland Conference, All-North Jersey Coaches Association and Express Times All-Area honors. She also played for X-Calibur Field Hockey Club and played in the National Futures Championship (2009-11), the Junior Olympics (2010), the National Club Championships (2011) and the National Indoor Tournament (2010-12).

She was an AP Scholar with Honors and a member of the National Honor Society and the Spanish Honor Society.

FREEMAN ON PIANUCCI: “Kimmie is a very focused, determined and dedicated student, both in the classroom and on the field. She is a coachable and willing student- athlete whose energy is positively infectious. The solid level of fundamental skills and vast range of playing experiences which Kimmie has will prove beneficial for her at this next level.”

Anna Scipioni – Forward/Midfielder | Palmyra, Pa. | Palmyra Area
WHY COLUMBIA: “I chose Columbia because it’s the perfect mix of academics and athletics. With the diversity and experiences offered in New York City, it is a unique opportunity. I am excited to work with the experienced coaching staff, as well as to study biology in the hopes of pursuing a career in the medical field.”

Scipioni was a four-year varsity letterwinner who proved to be skilled in both scoring and setting up goals for teammates. She totaled 38 goals and 33 assists for Palmyra Area and earned Harrow Sports/NFHCA All-American second team honors in 2011. Her breakout season was as a junior in 2010 when she tallied 18 goals and 11 assists.

Scipioni led her team to a PIAA District II AA Tournament title in 2011 and her Cougars teams qualified for the PIAA State Tournament each of her four years. She finished her career as a 2011 PHSFHCA Class AA All-State First Team selection and earned a spot on the Harrow Sports/NFHCA High School All-Pennsylvania Region first team. Scipioni also garnered All-Lebanon County first-team honors (2010-11) and was a two-time Big-11 selection (2010 second team, 2011 first team) and a two-time All-Lebanon County first team selection (2010-11). Palmyra Area won the Mid-Penn Conference Championship in 2009. She played on two club teams, Mid-State and PA Mavericks. Scipioni also competed in a host of USFHA events, winning gold medals at the National Field Hockey Festival (2008, 2010) and National Indoor Tournament (U14 – 2008). She has also competed in the Keystone State Summer and Winter Games, winning gold in the summer of 2011 and the winter of 2009 and 2011.

She was a member of the National Honor Society, the Key Club President and a Comcast Leaders and Achievers Scholarship Nominee.

FREEMAN ON SCIPIONI: “Anna is 100 percent a competitor. She has a talent for reading the developing play and her innate ability allows her to come up with the ball, make a possession pass or explode to goal. Her quick hands and craftiness with the ball will make her exciting to watch and I know Anna is looking forward to making her mark here at Columbia, in the league and in the NCAA.”

Lindsey Walter – Midfielder | Huntington Beach, Calif. | Huntington Beach
WHY COLUMBIA: “Columbia is my dream school. I can be a competitive athlete while still having the time and resources necessary to excel in academics. The access to New York and support that Columbia provides in finding internships will allow me to build my future in any direction I chose. Then just to top things off, lions are my favorite animal. It was meant to be.”

Walter was a three-year varsity letterwinner and was a first team All-Sunset League honoree in 2010 and 2011 and Huntington Beach won the league title from 2009-11. She was named the league MVP following her 2011 senior season in which Huntington Beach went a remarkable 27-1-1 and scored 106 goals. Her team won the Orange County Invitational in 2009 and 2010 and finished as finalists in 2011.

She played club hockey for the HB Wave and was named to the 2011 Los Angeles Field Hockey Association Tournament of Champions All-Tournament Team. Walter also excelled as a three-sport athlete, lettering three years for track & field (2009-11) and two years for soccer (2009-10) at Huntington Beach.

Walter was also a four-year National Honor Society member.

FREEMAN ON WALTER: “We are thrilled to have Lindsey join us in this 2012 class. As a midfielder, Lindsey possesses quality defensive footwork while also being able to use her aggressive attacking skills. She is very eager to be a contributing member of this program and with her high level of energy and coachable attitude, I know she will do great things to build on our successes.”