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Bradley University 2015 Team and Recruiting Class Review

School – Bradley University
Conference – Missouri Valley
Coach – Jim DeRose (20th Season)
Background – Bradley was 9-11-0 overall in 2014 with a 1-5-0 mark in conference play. Under the direction of Jim DeRose the Braves have made seven appearances in the NCAA Tournament with the most recent being the 2013 season. Their best run in the NCAA Tournament was in the 2007 season when they advanced to the Elite Eight and finished the season with a 16-6-4 overall record. Bradley won the MVC regular season title in 1998, 2005, 2006 and 2007 and the MVC tournament titles in 2007, 2010 and 2013.  Bradley has had ten or more wins in fourteen out of the past nineteen seasons. In 2014 forwards Cody Lofgren and Christian OKeke and defender Grant Bell were All-MVC Second Team selections. Defender Jacob Taylor was named to the MVC All-Freshman Team. 
Offense – The graduation of forward Cody Lofgren (7g, 5a) who led the Braves in goal scoring last year creates a void that must be filled. Junior Christian Okeke (2g, 8a) returns up-top. Senior midfielders Jason Lesch (5g, 5a) and Andrew Brown (3g, 3a) also return to add power to the attack. Senior Grant Bell (4g, 5a) also returns to add yet another dimension to the offense. Bell was a defender last year but is expected to play in the midfield in 2015. Senior Josh Otusanya (0g, 1a) who saw action in thirteen matches last year, redshirt freshman Daniel Gardner who sat out the 2014 campaign due to injury, and incoming freshmen Frank Bak out of the Sockers FC and Austin Bell who played for the Central Illinois Rowdies are among others who could add punch to the attack up-top in 2015. Junior Alex Garia (1g, 3a) and senior Joe Morales and redshirt freshman Tommy Clark who also missed the 2014 season due to injury are among other returning midfielders in the mix for a greater role in 2015. Freshman midfielder Garrett Dean who played for the Dallas Texans SC is among the newcomers who could contribute immediately. 
Defense – There is room for improvement on the defensive side of the ball in 2015. Last year the Braves allowed a total of thirty-one goals including a total of thirteen in early season losses to UNLV, Xavier, and San Diego. The Braves enter the 2015 campaign without the services of multi-year starting backs Johnny Contreras (1g, 0a) and Zach Kovacevic due to graduation. Sophomore back Jacob Taylor who now has the benefit of a year of starting experience under his belt and junior J.T. Kotowski who sustained a season ending ACL injury in the first contest of the 2014 season but looks to be fully recovered are among returning defenders who should provide a solid foundation upon which to build. Junior Andrew Kovacevic (0g, 1a) who has two years of starting expereince should again play a key role on the defensive side of the ball. Clark Emerson (1g, 0a), Grayson McGraw (0g, 1a), Andrew Lwanga, and Falk Dennert (1g, 0a) are among returning sophomores who will seek to up their playing time in the back in 2015. Ditto that for junior junior Jerrin Moore and redshirt freshman Matt Perry who also look to the in the mix. Freshman Alex Ciaramitaro out of the St. Louis Scott Gallagher Academy is among the newcomers who could compete for minutes in the back. Junior Logan Ketterer who started fourteen games last year with a 1.00 goals against average and four shutouts returns in goal to anchor the defense with the advantage of a year of starting experience now on his resume.   

Newcomers – Three Star Recruiting Class 

Coach DeRose stated, "The goal in particular for our staff was to bring in a freshman class that had positional diversity, athleticism, and the technical and tactical ability to adapt to Division I soccer at a high level. He added, "This class hopefully will rise to the challenges presented to them and attain a degree of excellence, win championships and win NCAA tournament games like those before them."

Frank Bak – Forward – Glenview, Illinois – Glenbrook South High School – Played for the Sockers FC Chicago. Scored tweleve goals with the Sockers in nineteen games. 

Austin Bell – Forward – Springfield, Illinois – Rochester High School – Played for Central Illinois Rowdies. First-Team All-State. 2014 Central State 8 Player of the Year. All-Conference selection. 

Alex Ciaramitaro – Defender – St. Peters, Missouri – St. Louis University High School – Played for St. Louis Scott Gallagher Academy  

Garrett Dean – Midfielder – Mansfield, Texas – Mansfield Legacy High School – Played for Dallas Texans SC. 

Brandon Eley – Defender – Indianapolis, Indiana – Cathedral High School – Played for Dynamo FC. First-Team All-State selection. All-District. 

Jha'Lon Johnson – Forward – Bolingbrook, Illinois – Wheaton Academy – Played for Galaxy SC.   

Will Kidd – Forward – St. Paul, Minnesota – Como Park High School – Played for St. Croix Academy. Minnesota State ODP team member. 

Noah Lasutschinkow – Forward – Laguna Hills, California – Laguna Hills High School – Played for Strikers FC Academy. 

Donald Link II – Defender – Collinsville, Illinois – Collinsville High School – Played for St. Louis Scott Gallagher Metro.

Albert Reinwart – Goalkeeper – Kirkwood, Missouri – St.Louis University High School – Played for Lou Fusz SC. Member of Missouri ODP team.

Sam Steenhoek – Midfielder – Norwalk, Iowa – Norwalk High School – Played for Sporting Iowa. Iowa ODP team member. Region II ODP team. 

Prognosis for 2015Bradley returns five of their top six goal scorers including thirteen players who contributed at least a point last year. However the graduation of forward Cody Lofgren does lead a big hole to plug. Senior midfielders Jason Leach (5g, 5a),Grant Bell (4g, 5a) and Andrew Brown (3g, 3a) and junior forward Christian Okeke (2g, 8a) have the ability to create havoc for opposing defenders but they could use additional help. The potential exists for the Braves to be very good on the offensive side of the ball and improved on the defensive side but at this point the outlook on the defensive side of the ball is somewhat iffy depending perhaps on the ability of several underclassmen to contribute. The Braves were hampered last year by several injuries to players that required surgery. It is a plus that all have been fully cleared and look to be 100 percent heading into the 2015 season. Avoiding the injury bug, solidifying and tightening up the play on the defensive side of the ball, the ability of the seniors to set the pace, and the ability of the sophomores in particular to pick up the pace look to be among the key challenges for Bradley heading into the 2015 season.  


Posted in 2015 Team Reviews

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