"The Richmond field hockey staff is thrilled about our two new additions from Northern Ireland," Lucido said. "We have watched Amy Cooke and Kerri McDonald rise through the ranks of Irish hockey and bring a wealth of international playing experience and contagious passion for the game to the fall 2012 season."
Cooke and McDonald will join fellow Northern Ireland native Ryan Elliott, who is entering his fifth season as an assistant coach with the Spiders. Both Cooke and McDonald will be reunited with reigning Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year, Spider sophomore Rebecca Barry (Limerick, Ireland). The trio last competed together for Ireland at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.
Cooke is a 5-foot-3 defender who played for coach Michelle Rainey at Ballyclare High in Ballyclare, Northern Ireland, started on the varsity for five years. Amy comes to Richmond on the back of an outstanding 2012 year. As a senior she led Ballyclare to the Ulster Senior School's Cup, scoring the game-tying goal to force overtime in the title game, as well as being named MVP of the All-Ireland Kate Russell Hockey Championships while leading Ballyclare to a runner-up finish. Cooke, helped her club team, Pegasus, to two Ulster League titles, All-Ireland Hockey League and Irish Senior Cup titles and the 2012 EuroHockey Club Championship.
"I look forward to completing my studies at such a prestigious University," Cooke said. "I also look forward to becoming a better hockey player with the amazing program that Richmond has to offer."
Cooke has also competed for Ulster at Under 16 and 18 level, most recently captaining the Under 18 to success in the Interprovincial championships in 2011. She comes from good hockey heritage, as her father Neil Cooke was capped 68 times by the Irish Men's National Team and she has followed in his footsteps by representing Ireland at Under 16, 17 and 18 levels. She was recently named Vice Captain of the Irish Under-18 team for the summer and will compete with the team at the Home Nations Championships.
"Amy Cooke is blessed with a wonderful hockey brain which when combined with her elite technical skills and commanding defensive presence, makes for a formidable opponent," Lucido said.
McDonald is a 5-foot-2 midfielder from Dromore, Northern Ireland who played for coach Neil Madeley at Banbridge Academy. She played five years on the varisty at Banbridge, serving as captain in her final season. She helped lead her team to the Senior Schools Plate title in 2008 and 2010 and the Senior Schools Cup semifinals in 2011. McDonald helped lead her club team, Armagh Ladies Hockey Club, to the All-Ireland Indoor Championship in 2011 and the Ulster Shield final in 2011.
"I was overwhelmed by Richmond's unquestionable beauty, warm atmosphere and prestige," McDonald said. "Most impressing however, was the sincerity and friendliness of all the people I met, coaches and teammates alike. I hope to achieve a first class education whilst competing in an outstanding hockey program."
McDonald has also represented her province and country. She has been selected for the Under 16, 18 and 21 Ulster teams in recent years. McDonald also had the honor of captaining the Northern Ireland Schools team to a Gold medal at the 2012 Sainsburys School Games in London at the Olympic Field Hockey Stadium. She has played on the Irish Under 16, 17 and 18 teams, while also being named to the under-21 Irish training squad this summer.
"Kerri's natural ability to advance the ball as a dynamic athlete while possessing an outstanding passing ability will significantly add to our attacking threat," Lucido said.
"Both young women have the invaluable character qualities of hard work, passion, and humility," Lucido said. "The Richmond hockey program is blessed to welcome Kerri McDonald and Amy Cooke to the Spider family."
The defending Atlantic 10 Champion Spiders will look to defend their title this fall as they go for their eighth Atlantic 10 title and NCAA Tournament berth in the last 11 years.