By Martin Cleary
Ottawa South United grad Annabelle Chukwu has taken another major step in her young and rewarding soccer career.
Chukwu, 16, has signed a letter of intent to attend the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, and play for the Fighting Irish in 2024-25. She is one of 12 recruits and the only Canadian signed by Notre Dame women’s head soccer coach Nate Norman for the Class of 2024.
Top Drawer Soccer ranked the Notre Dame signing class as No. 4 in the United States and the high-scoring Chukwu was a key acquisition.
“Annabelle is an extremely exciting, attacking player,” Norman said in a Notre Dame press release. “She has already been in full team camps with Canada (various national women’s teams) so she is very experienced.
“She is an extremely athletic and powerful forward, who can beat you in many different ways. She has a great soccer mind and is desperate to always improve. The sky is the limit for Annabelle and she will be a very fun player to watch during her time here.”
Chukwu is one of a number of Ottawa student-athletes who have committed to athletic and academic pursuits at American and Canadian universities, colleges or junior colleges for 2024 and 2025.
For the past two years, Chukwu has been part of the National Development Centre Ontario program and has attended Bill Crothers Secondary School in Toronto.
During that time, her talents have been recognized by being called up to the national senior women’s team for a CONCACAF Olympic qualifying game this fall and a camp and games against Brazil in 2022.
Chukwu’s national team experience has covered all bases in a short period of time. This year, she played for the women’s U20 and U17 teams and scored seven goals and added two assists at each level in eight and two games respectively.
As a member of the U20 team this season, she was a key part of the Canadian squad which placed third at the CONCACAF championship. In 2022, she was on the Canadian U15 team, which posted a second-place CONCACAF result.
In 2022, she played three games for the national U17 side and two games for the U15 team, scoring one goal for each unit. During her 15 international matches for Canada, she has scored 16 goals.
Playing for her National Development Centre Ontario team, Chukwu dressed for eight regular season games as her squad won the regular pennant with 14 wins, one loss and three ties. In the playoffs, she scored two goals in two games as NDCO won its semifinal, but lost the final 2-1 to Alliance United.
A noted goal scorer, Chukwu, who was born in Gravesend, Kent, England and moved to Ottawa with her family at age nine, was the top goal scorer in back-to-back seasons in the Ontario Player Development League with Ottawa South United – 39 goals in 17 matches in 2022, and 46 goals in 15 games in 2021.
Meanwhile, former Ottawa South United and current National Development Centre Ontario athlete Rosa Maalouf has committed to the Texas Longhorns. A current member of Canada’s U20 women’s national soccer squad, Maalouf previously earned to golden boot award as top goal scorer at the CONCACAF U17 Women’s Championship, with 12 goals in six matches.
Another OSU product, midfielder Taylor Cassidy, has signed a letter of intent to attend Louisiana Tech University. In the past, Cassidy has won MVP and most improved player awards in the OSU program.
Danika Birch, a forward and girls’ U17 co-captain with Ottawa TFC Soccer Club, has committed to attending Charleston Southern University and playing for the Buccaneers women’s soccer team.
Defender Asha Cameron of Earl of March Secondary School and Futuro Soccer Academy has committed to Ontario Tech University for 2024-25. She led her community team to the Ottawa-Carleton Soccer League title in 2021-22 as captain and was runner-up in 2022-23.
High Achievers has learned of many commitments made across numerous sports up to this point, however it is not a complete list.
Here are some other Ottawa student-athletes in golf and baseball, who have decided where to start of their post-secondary school education in 2024-25:
· Isaiah Ibit, St. Peter Catholic High School, attending Kent State University, The Team Ontario member recorded three provincial victories in 2023 at the Ontario Junior Players’ Invitational, the Junior Boys’ Spring Classic and the Golf Canada NextGen Ontario Championship; he’ll join Ottawa’s James Newton on the Golden Flashes roster.
· Max Corcoran, West Carleton Secondary School, attending Simon Fraser University. Corcoran won the 2023 Quebec Junior Boys’ Golf Championship in a two-hole playoff, placed first in the Graeme R. Kirkland, CIM Canadian Junior Golf Association Ontario Championship, tied sixth at the Golf Canada NextGen Ontario Championships. “SFU was the right fit for me with its extremely strong academic and golf programs,” Corcoran said. “Playing NCAA golf has always been a huge goal of mine and to be able to stay in Canada and play NCAA is an amazing opportunity.”
· Shane Stanley, Osgoode Township High School, attending Tiffin University. 2023 runner-up Ottawa Valley Golf Association Junior Boys’ Medal Championship (lost in a playoff), third place Canadian Junior Golf Association TaylorMade Canadian Invitational.
· Catcher Sam Byers, Watson Baseball, attending the University of British Columbia, played in the 2022 Canadian Futures Showcase.
· Pitcher Jack Mount, former Cloud County Community College player, attending Wichita State University.
· Outfielder/infielder Carter Smith, Ottawa Knights, attending McCook Community College.
· Infielder Nicky Moretto, Watson Baseball, attending Allen Community College.
· Pitcher Ryan Allard, Ottawa-Nepean Canadians Baseball, attending Allen Community College, 2025-26.
· Pitcher Will Boucher, Ottawa-Nepean Canadians Baseball, attending Frank Phillips College.
· Catcher Colin Fisher, Ottawa, Vauxhall Academy of Baseball, attending Midland College.
· Infielder Evan Ogston, Ottawa-Nepean Canadians, attending Grayson College.
· Pitcher-infielder Tyler Bono, Watson Baseball, attending University of Mary.
· Outfielder Emmett McLeaen, Ottawa-Nepean Canadians Baseball, attending Northwood University.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 50 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the High Achievers “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @martincleary.
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