2020 Team Reviews

2020 Team and Recruiting Class Reviews

UNCW Adds Eleven Newcomers. Seahawks Reloading In 2020.

Personnel losses due to graduation create substantive gaps that must be filled up-top and in the back in order for the Seahawks to be a player in the Colonial Athletic Association in 2020. The opportunity exists for others to play a greater role in 2020. UNCW's success could hinge in part on the bump in the level of play of the current sophomores who now have a year of experience under their belts and the contribution of the newcomers.  

Departures and Gaps - Departures due to graduation include forwards Phillip Goodrum (11g, 4a) and Mason Schuster (1g, 1a), midfielder Gabriel Cabral (3g, 3a) and defenders Danny Reynolds (4g, 5a), Mark Lindstrom (2g, 0a), Wilhelm Nilsson (2g, 0a) and Jamil Gracia (0g, 1a). Goodrum, Cabral, Lindstrom, and Reynolds were 2019 All-CAA First Team selections. Nilsson was a 2019 All-CAA Second Team member. Goodrum, Lindstrom and Gracia were four-year starters. Nilsson and Reynolds were two-year starters who transferred to UNCW as juniors. Cabral transferred to UNCW for his senior season. 

Opportunity for Improvement - Twenty-three of the thirty-two goals that the Seahawks scored last year were placed in the back of the net by departed seniors with Phillip Goodrum accounting for eleven of them. Five returning players scored last year but none scored more than two goals. A goal scorer or two will need to emerge to power the attack and fill the void that exists on the offensive side of the ball due to graduation. 

Coaches Recruiting Class Comment - Aidan Heaney stated, "Our recruiting class is one that will address some immediate needs we have as well as continue to add competition in all positions for us. We lost some experienced and talented players through graduation last year, a number of whom are now in the professional ranks, so we have worked diligently to recruit players who are excellent students and possess the work ethic needed to compete at the top levels of Division I soccer." 

Summary - UNCW entered the 2019 season with experienced players on board up-top and in the back but with question marks in goal and in the midfield. Fast forward a year to the present and the midfield and goal look to be in good shape but there are unanswered questions up-top and in the back. The Seahawks looked to be an NCAA Tournament level team last year. They began the season with unexpected losses to Georgia Southern and Stetson but rebounded to go 12-5-2 overall and won the regular season CAA title with a 7-0-1 mark in regular season play. However, a weak RPI and a heartbreaking 1-0 loss in overtime to James Madison in the CAA Tournament Final at home in which they had to play most of the contest a man down placed them on the wrong side of the bubble and kept them out of the field.

The departure of four All-CAA First Team selections and one All-CAA Second Team member means that expectations will be a little lower heading into the 2020 campaign than they were last year, but expectations are never very low at UNCW.    

One of the biggest challenges that UNCW faces heading into the 2020 season is replacing the offensive firepower that Phillip Goodrum provided. Goodrum, a three-time First Team All-CAA selection, finished a very successful tenure as one of only four players in school history to record back-to-back ten goal seasons. He started all seventy-six games in his college career and ranks fourth on the program's all-time list with thirty-two goals.

Sophomore Jalen Anderson (1g, 0a) who started the first six contests of the 2019 season before sustaining a season ending injury, sophomore Cannon Tootle (1g, 2a) who appeared in seventeen games last year with six starts, and sophomore Parker Norris (1g, 0a) are among returning forwards who will be eager to make an impact in 2020. Freshman forward Elias Taubo from Norway looks to be among the newcomers who could add an additional dimension to the attack.    

The Seahawk midfield looks to be in good shape led by senior 2019 All-CAA First Team selection Jacob Evans (2g, 4a) who now has the benefit of a season at UNCW under his belt after transferring in last year from the University of St. Thomas. Evans is among the returning players who could play a key role in filling the gap that exists on the offensive side of the ball. Senior Alejandro Saez (2g, 1a) who started all nineteen games last year, junior Athit Berg (0g, 1a), and sophomore Colton Pleasants (2g, 1a) who was a 2019 CAA All-Rookie Team selection are among returning starters. Juniors Dominic Toone (0g, 1a) and Ryan Graham (0g, 1a), sophomore Gabe Mercer (0g, 2a) who played in seventeen games with three starts, and sophomores Jeffrey Masser and Michael Morell are among other returning midfielders who will be in the mix for a greater role in 2020. 

Rebuilding the backline is the second challenge that Aidan Heaney faces heading into the 2020 season. Redshirt junior Drew Rabil (0g, 1a) who appeared in fourteen contests with five starts and sophomore Jaden Strumeier who saw action in fifteen contests last year are among returning backs. Freshman Johan Bjorck and senior transfer Michael Hornsby are among several members of the recruiting class with the potential to make an immediate contribution in the back. 

Sophomore Gabriel Perrotta, a 2019 All-CAA Second Team selection who started seventeen contests last year with a 0.73 goals against average and eight shutouts, returns in goal. Perrotta was a difference maker last year and should be again in 2020 but he will have to do so without the benefit of an experienced backline in front of him. Senior Jonathan Gomes who started one contest last year also returns between the pipes.  

It will be interesting to see how the Seahawks fill the very real gaps that exist due to the departure of a very talented and experienced senior class. All things considered the talent level at UNCW will measure up just fine with other members of the CAA and it is worth noting that this is not Aidan Heaney's first rodeo. Heaney, who will enter his twentieth year at the helm of the UNCW program, has successfully and quickly reloaded in the past. He will have talent to work with but he may not have the combination of talent and experience needed to prevent a learning curve and avoid a slight drop in the CAA standings.  There may be contests, particularly in the early going, in which the absence of a dominant goal scorer like Phillip Goodrum and an inexperienced backline will be felt.  

Newcomers

Johan Bjorck - Defender - Stockholm, Sweden - Played club for Djurgardens IF. A solid ball winner with the physical and athletic ability to make an immediate impact.

Alex Liddle - Midfielder - Rome, Georgia - Model High School - Played club for Darlington School Soccer Academy where hse was the Golden Boot recipient. Soccer savvy player with a great work rate.

Angelo Madrid - Defender - Apex, North Carolina - Crossroads Flex High School - Second Team All-Conference selection in high school. Played for North Carolina FC. Left-footed athletic player.

Griffin Stidham - Defender - Cary, North Carolina - Panther Creek High School - Tri-6 All-Conference selection. All-4A Region selection. Played for North Carolina FC U-19 DA-Pro. Athletic and physical defender.   

Michael Hornsby - Defender - Biberach an der Riss, Germany - Pestalozzi Gymnasium High School - Graduate Student transfer from Queens College where he was a three-time First Team All-SAC selection. 

Bryce Loui - Defender - Centennial, Colorado - Cherry Creek High School - Played club for Colorado Rapids DA. Invited to participate in 2018-19 ECNL National Camp. Quick with good touch on the ball. 

Jack Ruddy - Midfielder - Virginia Beach, Virginia - First Colonial High School - Played for Beach FC. Team captain. First Team All-Conference and Second Team All-State at First Colonial. Soccer savvy player with good touch on the ball and the quickness needed to create space.  

Phillip Speed - Forward - Jacksonville High School - Jacksonville, North Carolina - Three time All-Area and All-Region selection at Jacksonville High School. Netted ten goals and contributed thirteen assists his senior season. All-State selection. All-Area Player of the Year. Played club for Wilmoington Hammerheads Youth. Talented and versatile athlete with great work ethic. 

Tsubasa Takado - Forward - Narashino City, Japan - Municipal HS Funabasi - Senior transfer from West Virginia who started twenty-six of fifty-one career contests. Three-time Academic All-Conference selection. 

Elias Taubo - Forward - Oslo, Norway - Norwegian School of Elite Sports - Played club for Asker, Valerenga and Ready. Scored seven goals in twenty-three contests for Valerenga B club team in 2019. A goal scorer with a high level of competitive experience.

Haruki Yamashita - Goalkeeper - Kawasaki, Japan - Mallard Creek High School - Played for Charlotte Independence SC DA U-18/19 where he had a 1.30 goals against average. Mid-Atlantic All-ECNL U-17 honors.


  

 

  

 

UCF Announces Six Newcomers. Eight Starters Return From Program Best 2019 Season

Scott Calabrese has been building the program at UCF, going from eight wins in his first season in 2017, to thirteen wins in 2018, to fifteen wins in 2019. It will be difficult to keep that trend up but this is a program that is clearly on the right path. Making a deeper run in the NCAA Tournament looks to be among the next steps. 

Departures and Gaps - UCF will enter the season without three starters from the 2019 team. Departures due to graduation include two-time All-American forward Cal Jennings (18g, 4a) who had forty-six career goals including seventeen game winners and defender and team captain Jonathan Dean (0g, 6a). The Knights will also be without defender Glademir Mendoza (0g, 1a) who transferred in last year from New Mexico and was named to the 2019 All-AAC Rookie Team. 

Opportunity for Improvement - Ten of UCF's contests last year went into overtime. The Knights did a really good job of closing out those contests with seven wins, two ties, and one loss (a 2-1 loss to SMU in the NCAA Tournament). However, they had difficulty at times closing out games in regulation allowing opponents to get back into contests after they had what appeared to be a commanding lead. 

Summary - Eight starters including four All-AAC team members are back from the 2019 squad that was 15-3-2, won the regular season American Athletic Conference title with a 6-0-1 mark in league play, was awarded the number nine seed in the NCAA Tournament, advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in the history of the program, and was ranked as the number ten team in the nation in both the United Soccer Coaches and College Soccer News season ending polls. 

The Knights were among the most productive teams in the country last year on the offensive side of the ball with a total of forty-four goals. The good news is that five of UCF's top six goal scorers who combined for a total of twenty goals are slated to return. The not so good news is that forward Cal Jennings who does not return was responsible for eighteen goals including seven game-winners. It's no secret that Jennings, who blossomed under Scott Calabrese's direction, played a key role in the Knights' attack the last three years as he developed the physical capacity needed to maximize his technical ability. The $64,000 dollar question at UCF heading into the 2020 season is who and how will the Knights fill the gap, specifically the big play ability, that Jennings provided?   

Calabrese will have a lot of familiar faces at his disposal as he enters his fourth season at the helm of the program so he could address the void in part by adjusting the positioning of some of his players as he did when he moved Jennings from the wing to a striker his junior campaign. Regardless of the approach taken, if the void is successfully filled and team chemistry remains solid, this group will be dangerous. 

Returning forwards include senior Hattabiou Barry (2g, 3a) who has been a starter for the past three seasons. Senior Richard Amon (0g, 2a) who appeared in eleven contests with four starts last year and sophomore Jonas Schmalbach (2g, 1a) are among other returning forwards who look to be in the mix. Newcomer Lucca Dourado out of the Montverde Academy is among the newcomers with the potential to add to the attack up top.

The midfield looks to be deep, experienced and talented. Junior Yoni Sorokin (5g, 5a), a two-year starter and the 2019 AAC Midfielder of the Year, is the guy who puts everything in motion for the Knights. Senior Louis Perez (4g, 11a), a 2019 Second Team All-AAC selection, is a three-year starter and the team leader in assists. Perez is a playmaker who has been an impact player since arriving on campus from France as a freshman in 2017. Sophomore Gino Vivi (5g, 8a), the 2019 AAC Rookie of the Year and 2019 College Soccer News First Team All-Freshman Team selection, adds yet another dimension to the attack. Junior Mauricio Villalobos Vega (1g, 3a) who was a starter in 2019, junior Thomas Ness (0g, 1a) and sophomore  Jeremy Di Lallo (1g, 1a) who is one of four players on the 2020 roster out of the Montverde Academy are among other returning linkmen who round out a UCF midfield that looks to be among the best in the country.

Some reloading is required in the back due to the loss of defenders Jonathan Dean and Glademir Mendoza. Junior backs Yanis Leerman (0g, 2a) a 2019 All-AAC First Team selection and junior Andres Hernandez Betancur (1g, 1a) return to provide a solid necleus upon which to build. Both have the benefit of two-years of starting experience. Senior Itzik Efraim who played in seven games last year with four starts and junior Gideon Adu-Peprah who saw action in eleven contests with one start are among other returning backs who will likely contend for additional minutes in 2020. The recruiting class includes several defenders who should add depth in the back.  

Senior Yannik Oettl, the AAC Goalkeeper of the Year for the past two seasons, returns to give the Knights an imposing and experienced shot stopper in goal. Oettl started every contest in 2019 and recorded a 1.14 goals against average and six shutouts. Redshirt sophomore Matt Douglass from Clearwater, Florida out of the Montverde Academy and sophomore Bernardo Brandao from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil out of the IMG Academy also return between the pipes. 

UCF has a big void to fill on the offensive side of the ball but all things considered they look to be a program on solid ground with the expereince, athleticism, talent, and depth needed to build on the success they had last year. 

Newcomers

Lucca Dourado - Forward - Sao Paulo, Brazil - Montverde Academy -  Golden Boot award winner as a senior at Monteverde. 

Anderson Rosa - Defender - Salvador, Bahia, Brazil - Montverde Academy -  Named Most Improved Player of SIMA Gold as a sophomore. 

Brennon Neff - Defender - Lake Mary, Florida - Seminole HIgh School - Played for Orlando City Development Academy. 

Juan Ramos - Defender - Aragua, Venezuela - Freedom High School - Attended the Orlando City Developmey Academy.

Lenny Cidolit - Defender - Montpellier, France - Redshirt sophomore transfer from the University of Montpellier. Team Captain at Montpellier U-19 Team.   

Tyler Lavigne - Goalkeeper - St. Cloud, Florida - Played for U-17 Orlando City Development Academy. Team captain. 

Ariel Hadar - Midfielder - Ra'anana, Israel -  Member of the U-21 Israeli International team. Played in the Leumit League. Played for Hapoel Ramat Gan. 


 

 

 

St. John's Adds Three Transfers. Red Storm Returns Nine Starters In 2020

St. John's has a proud past that includes a berth in the NCAA Tournament twenty-one times in the twenty-nine seasons that Dr. Dave Masur has been at the helm of the program, four trips to the College Cup, and a national championship in 2008. A stellar 14-5-1 overall record in 2019, a return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013, and a trip to the Sweet Sixteen resulted in another successful season at St. John's that energized the program and returned the dialogue to the present.   

Departures and Gaps - Key departures due to graduation include midfielders Brandon Duarte (2g, 3a) a 2019 All-Big East Second-Team selection who transferred to St. John's after playing for Ancilla College for two seasons and Niko Petridis (4g, 4a) who transferred to St. John's as a junior after playing for two seasons for Connecticut. The Red Storm will also have to replace playmaking midfielder Skage Simonsen (3g, 6a) who was the All-Big East Freshman of the Year in 2018 and a repeat All-Big East Second Team member in 2019.

Opportunity for Improvement - All five of St. John's losses last year were to teams that advanced to at least the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Red Storm lost to Maryland 1-0 in overtime, to Georgetown 3-0 and Providence 2-0 in regular season Big East play, to Providence 2-1 in the Big East Tournament, and to Virginia 3-0 in the NCAA Tournament. St. John's ability to win the close contests in 2020, particularly against top level teams, will depend on their capacity to consistently put in a full ninty minutes of play without costly lapses in play. The Red Storm were at their best last year when they were able to put pressure on their opponents. The Johnnies were vulnerable when the reverse happened and their opponent was able to apply pressure that disrupted their tempo and reduced the amount of time and space they had to work with in the midfield. 

Coaches Recruiting Class Comment - Dr. Dave Masur announced the early addition of three transfers who will enroll in the spring semester. Masur stated, "We're excited to add three talented players who look like they can have an immediate impact on our program. They strengthen our team at all three field positions and come with a variety of qualities that will add depth to our roster this fall."

Summary - Saint John's was a young team last year with eight underclassmen in key roles. There is reason for optimisim in 2020 with a strong and deep roster of players slated to return and a talented group of newcomers, in addition to the three transfers already announced, in the pipeline. St. John's jumped from a seven win season in 2018 during which they scored a total of eighteen goals and allowed twenty-one to a fourteen win campaign in 2019 with an up-tempo offense that found the back of net a total of thirty-eight times and a stout defense that only allowed nineteen goals.

Junior Tani Oluwaseyi returns in 2020 to give the Red Storm a lethal presence up-top. The Red Storms' resurgence on the offensive side of the ball in 2019 can be attributed in large part to the playmaking ability of Oluwaseyi who had a breakout season during which he became the first St. John's player in more than two decades to be named the Big East Offensive Player of the Year. Oluwaseyi's eleven goals were the most scored in a single season by a St. John's player since Simone Salinno scored fourteen times back in 2003. Oluwaseyi served notice early in the 2019 season that he was going to be a difference maker when he scored the game-winner in overtime on the road to give the Johnnies the edge they needed for a confidence and momentum building 1-0 win over a very good N.C. State team.  Junior Josiah Crawford (1g, 0a) who saw action in fifteen matches last year with eight starts is among other returning players who could contribute up top in 2020.

Some reloading will be required in the midfield to fill the void that exists due to the departure of Brandon Duarte (2g, 3a) who was a two-year starter, Niko Petridis (4g, 4a) and Skage Simonsen (3g, 6a) who transferred to SMU. Simonsen was a two-year starter and key playmaker who assisted on five of Oluwaseyi's eleven goals. The very best St. John's teams under Dr. David Mauser have featured talented midfielders like Jeff Matteo (2001), Matia Damiani (2003) and Nelson Becerra (2008) who had the ability to control the middle third, maintain possession, and add punch to the offense.

Junior midfielder Brandon Knapp, a two-year starter, team captain, and 2019 All-Big East Third Team member, is a prime timer who returns to set the pace on both sides of the ball in the middle of the park. Redshirt senior Matt Forster (1g, 1a) who has three years of starting experience under his belt and junior Einar Lye (5g, 5a), a 2019 All-Big Ten Third Team selection, are among returning linkmen who have the ability to add an additional dimension to the offense. Junior Ethan Shaw who appeared in eleven matches last year with five starts and sophomore Atila Ashrafi (2g, 0a) who played in eight games with two starts are among other returning midfielders who should be in the mix for additional minutes in 2020. Senior Alejandro Riquelme, a transfer from Siena, is a playmaker who will add depth and experinece to the midfield.   

The backline looks to be in good shape with junior center backs Matt Chandler (0g, 1a) and Luke Hansen (0g, 1a) returning to anchor the defense along with seniors Rafael Bustamante (1g, 1a) and Johan Aquilon who was hampered last year by injury and sophomore Jared Juleau (1g, 2a). Junior Sanoussi Sangary is among other returning backs who will vie for a greater role in 2020. Junior back Anthony Herbert, a transfer from rom Farileigh Dickinson, is a solid addition who will likely challenge for a starting role.  

The Johnnies successfully utilized a two-goalkeeper system last year with Jan Hoffelner playing the first stanza and Luka Gavran taking over in the second half. Dual netminders can be problematic but it worked well for St. John's. Both Hoffelner, a senior, and Gavran a red shirt sophomore return in 2020 to give the Red Storm an experienced and battle tested duo in goal. 

St. John's has the talent, experience, and depth to have a high ceiling in 2020. If everything falls into place, a first place finish in the Big East Conference and a deep run in the NCAA Tournament are clearly in play.  

Newcomers

Anthony Herbert - Defender - Brooklyn, New York - Progress High School - Junior transfer from Fairleigh Dickinson where he appeared in thirty-eight contests with thirty-seven starts as a center back. Named to the 2019 United Soccer Coaches All-Northeast Region Third Team.  All-NEC Second Team selection in 2019 and 2019. Played for Trinidad and Tobago U-17 and U-20 National Teams. Played for the New York Red Bulls Academy.  

Wesley Leggett - Forward - Lawrence, New Jersey - Princeton Country Day - A sophomore transfer from the University of Connecticut where he played in six contests in 2019. Tallied twenty-one goals and five assists during senior season and twenty goals and four assists as a junior at  Princeton Country Day. Played for the Match Fit Academy for four years. 

Alejandro Riquelme - Midfielder - Las Rozas, Spain - Universidad Computense de Madrid - Senior transfer from Siena where the scored a total of twelve goals and contributed eleven assists. Second Team All-MAAC Selection in 2017 and 2019. Played for Las Rozas Club de Futbol.  


Bowling Green Adds Six 2020 Recruits. A Solid Group Returns From Thirteen Win Season

The Falcons will seek to build on a very productive double-digit win season during which they were one win away from earning an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. 

Departures and Gaps - Key departures due to graduation include forward Chris Brennan (4g, 4a) a four-year starter, forwad Charlie Maciejewski (1g, 4a) a two-year starter, defender Tom Wrobel (1g, 0a) a three-year starter, and goalkeeper Anthony Mwembia a four-year starter. Mwembia was a 2019 All-MAC First-Team selection. Brennan and Maciejewski were All-MAC Second Team honorees. 

Opportuniteis for Improvement - The ability and the toughness to close out the contests needed to win the MAC regular season and tournament titles. 

Coach's Recruiting Class Comment - Eric Nichols stated, "They are a tremendous group with a lot of talent, character and drive, and we look forward to working with them during this exciting phase of their lives."

Summary - BGSU defeated NIU 2-1 and Akron 1-0 to advance to the MAC championship game in 2019 for the tenth time in program history and the first time since 2014. Their season ended at that point when they were edged by West Virgina 1-0 in the title match. The Falcons will enter the 2020 campaign remembering what it was like to reach the tournament final. They will also remember what it was like to come so close to winning the championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament and to fall short. Getting back to the title match and winning it will no doubt be among their goals in 2020.

Bowling Green will be older in 2020 with a lot of upperclassmen in key roles. Taking the next step and pushing to the top of the MAC will not be an easy task but with the experience and talent that Eric Nichols will have to work with the potential to do that exists.

Nichols will have a versatile and athletic roster and the capability for a variety of lineup options. Senior Chris Sullivan (7g, 9a), a 2019 All-MAC Second Team selection, returns to power the offense up-top or in the midfield. Sullivan led the Falcons in goals and assists last year and will likely be the centerpiece of BGSU's attack again in 2020. Sophomore Spencer Straka (2g, 0a) who appeared in seven contests last year is among other returning forwards who will seek to play a greater role in 2020.

The midfield will be deep and experienced. Senior Zach Buescher (0g, 1a), a 2019 All-MAC Second Team member with three years of starting experience under his belt, returns to bring stability and consistency to the midfield. He will be joined by senior Vinny Worner (2g, 0a) a two-year starter and juniors Kale Nichols (3g, 3a) and Jenson Lukacsko (0g, 1a) who also have two years of starting experience. Junior Colin McCort and sophomores Nathan Masters (0g, 2a) and Eli Shope are among other returning linkmen who look to the in the hunt for additional minutes in 2020.

Senior center back Achille Robin (5g, 4a) returns to add leadership, toughness, and another dimension to the offense. Robin was a 2019 All-MAC First Team selection who played every second of every contest last year and has been a starter for the past two years. Junior Matt Walters (1g, 4a) who has two years of starting experience and sophomore Michael Montemurri (2g, 0a) who turned in a quality campaign in a starting role as a freshman are among others who should play a prominent role on the defensive side of the ball in 2020.  Jake Erlandson, a senior transfer who was a three-year starter and NAIA All-American at Huntington University, is among several members of the recruiting class who could challenge for playing time in the back.

The departure of goalkeeper Anthony Mwembia creates the biggest void to fill. Mwembia was a prime timer who consistently came up with the key stops needed to give his team the opportunity to prevail. Mwembia had a stellar four-year career at BGSU with thirty career shutouts including eleven in 2019 to become the first Falcon netminder since the 1998 season to record double-digit shutouts in a single season. Sophomore Logan Kowalczyk and junior Alec Srodawa and newcomer Brendan Graves who was a High School All-American are among those who look to battle for the starting role in goal.   

The emergence of another goal scorer or two to supplement the play of Chris Sullivan and add balance to the attack, the toughness needed to close out the close contests, and the ability to successfully fill the gap that exists due to the departure of Mwembia look to be among the keys to success at Bowling Green in 2020. Whether this group has what it requires to take the next step and to get over the hump remains to be seen. It should be an interesting season for the Falcons.  

Newcomers

Jake Erlandson - Defender - Waynesville, Ohio - Dayton Christian High School - Senior transfer from Huntington University where he was a three-year starter and NAIA All-American. Scored a total of twenty-one goals and contributed two assists at Huntington University. 

Joey Akpunonu - Defender - Holland, Ohio - St. John's Jesuit. - Named to the All-Ohio First Team by the Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association as a senior. Named Three Rivers Athletic Conference Player of the Year. Distict Player of the Year. Team captain. Played club for Pacesetter SC. 

Kyle Blasingame - Midfielder - Oswego, Illinois - Oswego East High School - Four-year varsity member and two-year captain. Scored seven goals and had eleven assists. Played club for Galaxy SC.

Kyle Cusimano - Defender - Bay Village, Ohio - Bay High School - Four-year varsity team member. Named the 2019 United Soccer Coaches High School Boys National Player of the Year. Named the OSSCA Ohio Boys Division II Player of the Year. First Team All-Ohio selection. Team captain. Scored thirty-two goals and contributed twenty-six assists as a senior. Had eighty-one career goals and sixty-four career assists. PLaed club for Team Challenger FC. 

Brendan Graves - Goalkeeper - Perrysburg, Ohio - Perrysburg High School - Three-year team captain. Allstate High School All-American. All-Ohio Division One First Team selection. All-Region selection. All-Conference and All-District First-Team member. Played club for Pacesetter SC. 

Patrick Koenig - Forward - Naperville, Illinois - North High School - Four-year varsity member. All-Conference and All-Sectional selection. Forty-one career goals and fourteen career assists. Played club for Galaxy SC. 

Brevin Andreadis - Midfielder - Cincinnati, Ohio - Anderson HIgh School - Had thirty-seven career goals and twenty-two career assists at Anderson HIgh School. All-ECC First Team selection. All-Southwest Ohio. Played for Kings Hammer Academy. 

Roberto Fernandez Garrido - Forward - Valencia, Spain - Colegio La Purisma - Graduate transfer from Milligan College in Tennessee where he had thrity-eight career goals and five career assists. NAIA A--America honorable mention. Appalachian Athletic Conference Player of the Year in 2019. 


Denver Adds Four Newcomers. Pioneers Deep and Eager To Prove Themselves In 2020

Denver will have a familiar look in 2020 with just about everyone back. A solid foundation is in place heading into the 2020 for a team that looks to be deeper and more experienced but also has plenty of work to do.  

Departures and Gaps - The Pioneers will be without the services of center back Callum Stretch (1g, 1a) and attacking midfielder Dylan Keeney. Stretch was a First-Team All-Summit League selection in 2018 and a Second-Team selection in 2019. 

Opportunities for Improvement - Greater consistency and the ability to put in a full ninty minute shift. Denver had a very small margin for error last year. The Pioneers were 2-9-2 when playing away from home. 

Coach's Recruiting Class Comment - Janie Franks stated, "I'm really excited about this group. As the program and the culture becomes more established, I think it's really clear the type of kids that we're looking for. These individuals fit the mold of a Denver student-athlete." He added, "We couldn't be more ecstatic about this group. They'll add competition right away. We're looking for them to come in and make an immediate impact."

Summary - Denver was 6-12-3 last year with a 2-2-1 mark in Summit League play. It was the Pioneers first season with a losing record in the five years that Jamie Franks has been the head coach at Denver. In fact, you have to go back to 2011 to find another season in which Denver didn't have double digit wins and even further back than that to find one in which they scored fewer goals than they allowed.

It is always advisable to be cautious about the prospects of a team that only had six wins but Denver looks to be the exception. It is unlikely that the Pioneers will have another season in 2020 like the only they had in 2019. A little more information about the 2019 season might help explain why.

The Pioneers entered the 2019 season with a lot of uncertainty particularly on the offensive side of the ball due to the departure of All-American forward Andre Shinyashiki who accounted for twenty-eight of the forty-two goals that the Pioneers scored in 2018.  Coach Franks did a good job in adding a recruiting class with the skills needed to fill the gaps but it often takes time for newcomers, including transfers who have to adjust to a differnet system of play, to jell as a team particularly on the offensive side of the ball. Denver also had a unforgiving and brutal schedule that included games away from home with Washington, Seattle, Indiana, Notre Dame, Stanford, Pittsburgh, Saint Louis, and Duke.  

It's admirable and advisable to play tough competition to sort out weaknesses but Denver's schedule last year was way over quota in that regard. Make no mistake about it, the Pioneers should have been able to secure a few more wins than they did last year but a case could be made that the degree of difficulty of the schedule made the learning curve and the process of merging so many newcomers into a unified team difficult.

To their credit the Pioneers played everyone close but this was a team that entered the season with a small margin for error. Denver did show a lot of grit, salvage their season, and create momentum that they can build upon next year when they rebounded to win the Summit League Tournament and punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in the past five years.

Senior Josh Drake (5g, 3a), a 2019 All-Summit League Second Team selection who transferred in last year from Grand Canyon, senior Preston Judd (7g, 1a) who transferred in from California Baptist and senior Danny Barlow who transferred in from East Tennessee State Univerisity return to power the attack up top in 2020 with the advantage of a year of experience at Denver under their belts. Redshirt junior Brooks Crawford who appeared in twenty-one contests last year is among other returning forwardds who look to be in the mix.

The midfield looks to be talented, experienced and deep in 2020. Senior holding midfielder Jacob Stensson (2g, 2a), a 2019 All-Summit League Second Team selection, returns with three years of starting experience to set the pace and the tone in the middle of the park. Junior Stefan DeLeone (1g, 1a) who has been a starter for the past two seasons, junior Liam Johnson (1g, 0a) who has been a starter the past two years, sophomores Aidan O'Toole (0g, 1a) who was a starter last year, Connor McWilliams, Kengo Ohira (3g, 0a) and defensive midfielder Eli Mereness and redshirt junior Alex Kaddah are among a solid contingent of returning linkmen.

Last year Denver allowed a total of twenty-five goals while scoring twenty-one. Centerback Callum Stretch (1g, 1a), a fixture in the backline the past two seasons, is the lone starter who must be replaced. Senior Destan Norman, a three year starter, returns to anchor the backline as a defensive midielder or outside back. He will be joined by junior Lucas Russo (0g, 2a) who moved into a starting role last year at outside back after transferring in from Barry University. Redshirt junior Bailey Heller (1g, 0a) who played in sixteen matches last year with thirteen starts also looks to play a prominent role in the back in 2020. Redshirt senior Will Palmquist returns between the pipes along with redshirt junior Kobe Gray. Palmquist, the 2018 Summit League Goalkeeper of the Year, has been the starter for the past two seasons. Gray started two contests in goal last year.

Denver will enter the 2020 season with a roster full of players who now have a year of experience playing together who should be eager to prove themselves as a team. They will also have a more favorable schedule. Chances are pretty good that the Pioneers will experience a signifiant jump in their win total in 2020; however, it will require improvement, greater focus, and the ability to consistently put together a full ninty minutes of play. It is a big plus that Denver has a winning culture and a coach who particpated in three College Cups and won a national championship as a player who knows what it takes to win at the highest level.  

Newcomers

Ben Smith - Midfielder - Centennial, Colorado - Arapahoe High School - Three-year captain for Real Colorado. Called into two U.S. National Team Camps.

Brennan Gac - Midfielder - Kensington, Maryland - Georgetown Prep - Captain for Georgetown Prep where he earned four varsity letter. Scored six goals and contributed ten assists in 2019. Played club for Maryland United.

Lukas Fisher - Midfielder - Portland, Oregon - Central Catholic High School - Played for Portland Timbers Academy since 2016, starting fifty-one games and scoring nine career goals. Oregon ODP 2014-2016. 

Ruaridh Fraser - Defender - Sugar Land, Texas - Stephen F. Austin - Has played for the Houston Dynamo Academy for five years as center forward, midfielder and right back. Scored a total of twenty-two goals. 


Maryland Announces Four Early Signees. Terps Return Nine Starters In 2020

Maryland did some things very well last year. They played well on the defensive side of the ball but the lack of offensive punch prevented them from doing some of the things that they normally do and resulted in a small margin of error. The Terps will seek to maintain the strengths and address areas of concern in 2020.  

Departures and GapsThe Terps lose center back Johannes Bergmann (2g, 2a), midfielder Eli Crognale (4g, 5a) and forward Luke Brown (1g, 1a) due to graduation. Bergmann and Crognale were team captains and 2019 All-Big Ten First Team selections. Bermann was a starter for three seasons and Crognale a starter for two seasons. Brown was a three-year starter at Hofstra before transferring to Maryland in 2020 for his senior season.    

Opportunities for Improvement - Possession and pressure. Maryland is at their best when they are able to apply pressure, create turnovers, and quickly counter. Their ability to do that on a consistent basis last year, in large part due to injuries, limited their effectiveness on the offensive side of the ball and put their defense under greater pressure. 

Coach's Recruiting Class Comment - Sasho Cirovski stated, "They are all of the highest character, have an insatiable desire to excel and bring with them a soccer skill set that will allow them to succeed individually as well as add great value to our program." 

Summary - Maryland struggled at times last year against the more difficult opponents. The effort was there throughout the season but key injuries hampered their ability to settle into a rhythm on the offensive side of the ball. As a result they were unable to get on the front foot at times and apply the pressure that has been the trademark of the program under Sasho Cirovski. Regardless the Teprs still managed a solid 11-8-2 overall record with a 3-3-2 mark in Big Ten play, earned their nineteenth consecutive berth in the NCAA Tournament, and advanced to the second round of the tournament.  

Forward Paul Bin who played a key role in Maryland's attack in 2018 sustained a season ending ACL injury on the first day of preseason training and missed the entire 2019 season. Midfielder William James Herve, a starter in 2018 who added a different dimension to the Terp offense, was limited to just a few minutes of playing time in three contests last year due to a leg injury. Forward Brayan Padilla (2g, 9a), who started the 2019 season strong and looked like he might be the answer to Maryland's attack, sustained an injury that limited his season to eight contests. All three are slated to return in 2020 which should provide a real boost to the Terp offense.

In addition, senior forward Eric Matzelevich (6g, 2a) who was Maryland's top goal scorer last year and a 2019 All-Big Ten Second Team selection, junior forward Justin Gielen (4g, 1a) and sophomore forward Justin Harris will be back. Forward Jacen Russell-Rowe whose resume includes playing for the Canadian U-17 National Team is among the newcomers who look to be a perfect fit for Maryland's style of play.   

Sophomore midfielders Malcolm Johnson (4g, 4a), David Kovacic (3g, 1a) and redshirt sophomore defensive midfielder Nick Richardson, are among returning linkmen who now have a year of experience under their belts. Johnson and Richardson were 2019 Big Ten All-Freshmen selections. 

The Terps will miss the stability and experience that central defender Johannes Bergmann who was a three-year starter brought to the defense but a drop off in the level of play on defense is not likely. Junior center back Brett St. Martin (1g, 1a) returns with two seasons of starting experience under his belt along with senior right back Ben Di Rosa (1g, 2a) and senior left back Matt Di Rosa (0g, 2a). Sophomore backs Marques Antoine who saw action in seven contests last year with three starts and Chris Rindov (0g, 1a) who participated in nine contests are among other returning players who should be in the hunt for a greater role in 2020.

Sophomore Niklas Neumann, a 2019 All-Big Ten Second Team selection, returns in goal after starting in eighteen contests last year and recording a 0.90 goals against average to anchor a Terp defense that posted eleven shutouts last year.  

Cirovski has a proven track record of building consistent winners. Under his guidance Maryland has had double digit wins in twenty-six of the last twenty-seven seasons, earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament twenty-four times, and won the national championship in 2005, 2008 and 2018.  He will enter the 2020 campaign a couple of wins away from securing four hundred wins at Maryland. When Cirovski reaches that milestone he will be one of only six coaches who have accomplished that feat at one Division I school.

No different from other elite programs, Maryland will enter the 2020 season with their sights set on no less than winning the Big Ten Title and a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. Whether or not they can accomplish that hinges on their ability to up the level of their play by maintaining possession and applying pressure on the offensive side of the ball without a decline on the defensive side of the ball. Key factors include the ability of senior Paul Bin, junior William James Herve and junior Brayan Padilla who were injured last year to return to full strength in 2020, the ability of forwards Eric Matzelevich and Justin Gielen to build on the season they had last year, and the ability of others to take the next step in their playmaking ability.   

Maryland will be competitive and will put in a full shift in terms of effort in 2020 but the bottom line is that improvement is required in order for the Terps to win the contests against the top level opponents that eluded them last year.  

Newcomers

Ben Bender - Midfielder - Parkville, Maryland - Calvert Hall - Four-year starter at Calvert Hall where he scored fifteen goals his senior season and nine as a junior. 2019 Allstate All-American. Two-time All-MIAA selection. Played club for Baltimore Armour. 

Jamie Lowell - Goalkeeper - Brentwood, New Hampshire - Kentridge High School and Phillips Exeter Academy - Played for Seattle Sounders Academy. Prior to that he played club for Seacoast United. 

Joe Suchecki - Midfielder - New York, New York - Played for New York City FC Academy. Scored nineteen goals for the U16-17 team and four goals for the U18-19 team. Selected to the Generation Adidas Elite Soccer Program in 2017. 

Jacen Russell-Rowe - Forward - Bramton, Ontario - Played for the Toronto FC Academy and the Canadian U-17 National team. Scored nineteen goals for Toronto FC U-16-17 team and forty career goals in USDDA play. 


Indiana Announces Six Recruits. Hoosiers Eager To Get Underway In 2020.

Indiana returns a solid necleus from the 2019 team that was 15-3-4 overall with a 7-1-0 mark in Big Ten play. It was IU soccer as usual in 2019 with the Hoosiers winning both the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles and earning the number five seed in the NCAA Tournament despite the fact that they faced the challenge of replacing ten starters from the 2018 team that had advanced to the College Cup.     

Departures and Gaps - Back Jack Meyer (4g, 2a), the 2019 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, and midfielder Aidan Morris (2g, 8a), the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, departed early to enter the professional ranks. Defenders Simon Weaver an All-Big Ten Second Team selection and Jordan Kleyn, midfielder Joris Ahlinvi (2g, 0a), and goalkeeper Sean Caulfield were the seniors on the 2019 team.  

Opportunities for Improvement - The Hoosiers had a lot of freshmen in key roles last year. If they get the traditional freshman to sophomore bump in the level of their play they will be a force to contend with in 2020. Indiana had a productive offense last year but there is room for improvement in their ability to take advantage of the scoring opportunities that come their way.

Coach's Recruiting Class Comment - Todd Yeagley stated, "We are really excited about our incoming class. It is a balanced group that will help strengthen our team heading into the 2020 season. It is important we continue to build upon our strong tradition of excellence and without question this class will leave a positive mark on the soccer program. They possess the strong character and winning mentality that we look for at IU."  

Summary - Expectations are always high at Indiana but they were tempered a little last year because the Hoosiers entered the 2019 season without ten starters from the 2018 team that advanced to the College Cup. Indiana's roster in 2019 included eighteen true or redshirt freshmen. The potential existed for a learning curve that would provide opponents the opportunity for a little revenge but that was not to be the case. Todd Yeagley and his stafff did an excellent job of merging the newcomers in with returning players. The freshmen proved to be differnece makers who hit the ground running and the returning players quickly transitioned into roles of greater responsibility. In retrospect, it was short-sighted to underestimate the ability of a program that has earned thirty-three consective invites to the NCAA Tournament to quickly reload. 

It was a banner season with the exception of the fact that the Hoosiers' season came to a heartbreaking end sooner than expected when they were upset at home by UC Santa Barbara 1-0 in the Sweet Sixteen. The memory of that loss, as is often the case, should provide a little extra incentive in 2020. 

Indiana will enter the 2020 campaign with significantly fewer gaps to fill and a talented bunch of sophomores who should benefit from the experience they gained last year. Regardless, the decision of defender Jack Meyer to depart to enter the professional ranks after his sophomore season and midfielder Aidan Morris to do the same after a one year stay in Bloomington leave gaps that could be a challenge to fill.

Yeagley will have a lot of lineup options. Sophomores Victor Bezerra (8g, 3a), All-Big Ten Second Team member Joshua Penn (6g, 2a), All Big-Ten Freshman Team selection Herbert Endeley (2g, 3a) and Maouloune Goumballe (2g, 3a) and seniors Thomas Warr (2g, 2a) and Ian Black (3g, 1a) are among returning players who will power what should be a balanced and explosive attack either up-top or in the midfield. Redshirt junior Joe Schmidt (1g, 2a) returns to set the pace and add stability to the midfield.

Redshirt senior, captain, and All-Big East Second Team selecion Spencer Glass (1g, 2a) and redshirt senior A.J. Palazzolo (3g, 4a) will provide an experienced and talented presence on the backline. Redshirt sophomore Daniel Munie (1g, 1a) and sophomore Brett Bebe are among other returning defenders who figure to be in the mix in 2020. Sophomore Roman Celentano who started fourteen contests last year with a 0.55 goals against average and eight shutouts returns in goal to anchor the defense with the added benefit that accompanies a year of experience.  

Todd Yeagley, as his father Jerry Yeagley did before him, always does a really good job of recruiting and developing talented soccer players who are also great athletes. The 2020 recruiting class is no exception with several members capable of contributing right away and providing the depth that is a critical success factor as the season progresses.

Players who scored thirty-two of Indiana's forty goals last year are slated to return. The Hoosiers look to be a very balanced and experienced team in 2020 with multiple players who have the ability to add punch to the offense along with a solid contingent of defenders. The stability that Jack Maher brought to the defense will be missed but the biggest challenge will be replacing the playmaking ability that midfielder Aidan Morris brought to the pitch. There is no need to temper expectations at IU heading into the 2020 season.  

Newcomers -  

Kyle Folds - Midfielder - Berea, Ohio - St. Ignatius High School - Plays for Indiana Fire Academy. 2018 Allstate All-American. Indy Eleven USL Academy. 

Lukas Hummel - Defender - Fenton, Missouri - Rockwood Summit High School - Co-Captain of St. Louis FC U-19 Academy Team.

Joey Maher - Defender - Caseyville, Illinois - Althoff High School - Plays for St. Louis FC. Team Captain. Made forty starts in forty-two career appearances for St. Louis FC Academy.

Emerson Nieto - Midfielder - Fort Wayne, Indiana - Bishop Dwenger HIgh School - Plays for the Indiana Fire Academy. Made USL debut as an amateur signee with Indy Eleven in 2019. 

Lawson Redmon - Defender - Glen Carbon, Illinois - Edwardsville High School - Plays for St. Louis  FC. Team co-captain. USL Academy contract with St. Louis FC. 

Nathan Ward - Forward - Connellsville, Pennsylvania - Greensburg Central Catholic - Plays for Beadling SC. Scored eighty goals with sixty-nine assists for Greensburg Central Catholic. Two-year letterwinner in baseball, basketball and track. 


 

Missouri State Adds Six Newcomers. Bears Seek To Build On Historic 2019 Season

What will Missouri State do for an encore in 2020 after an historic 2019 season in which they were a program best 18-1-1 with a perfect 10-0-0 mark in Missouri Valley Conference play? Don't let the fact that the Bears were eliminated in the second round of the NCAA Tournament distract you. They were among the top teams in the nation last year and will enter the 2020 season with a solid core of returning players supplemented by a six member recruiting class that has an international flavor and includes three transfers.  

Departures and Gaps - Missouri State has several big shoes to fill due to graduation. Departures include forward Matthew Bentley (15g, 4a), midfielders Stuart Wilkin (5g, 4a) and Ian Jones (3g, 2a) and defender Ben Stroud (4g, 0a). Bentley was a 2019 College Soccer News and United Soccer Coaches All-American and the Missouri Valley Conference Offensive Player of the Year. Wilkin was a 2019 All-MVC First Team selection and four -year starter. Jones was a 2019 All-MVC Second Team selection. Stroud was an All-MVC First Team member and a four-year starter. 

Opportunities for Improvement -  Granted, it's hard to improve on an eighteen win season and perfect 10-0-0 mark in conference play. Continued improvement in their ability to close out games in 2020 hinges on the bump in play that the returning players get from the experience gained last year and the ability of the newcomers to help fill the voids that exist. Team chemistry and the hunger for improvement after a banner season are always important.  

Coach's Recruiting Class Comment -  Associate head coach Michael Seabolt stated, "The 2020 additions to our program are very important for our short and long term goals. It is our responsibility to make sure we continue on the path of growth that has hallmarked this program since its inception."

Summary - Missouri State will enter the 2020 season full of ambition and momentum as they hope to build on a stellar 2019 campaign in which they were 18-1-1 overall, won the MVC regular season title with a 10-0-0 mark in conference play, returned to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009, and secured the program's first ever win in the NCAA Tournament. With that said, the Bears do have a few key crucial gaps to address due to graduation. The 2019 team excelled in large part because they combined the program's normally tenacious play of the defensive side of the ball with an explosive and balanced attack that enhanced their chances of winning the close contests. 

Missourii State will be without the services of defender Ben Stroud who was a four-year starter. However, the backline will again be a position of strength for the Bears in 2020. Senior Kyle Hiebert (1g, 2a), a 2019 All-America selection and the MVC Defender of the Year, is slated to return to anchor the backline. Hiebert is a team leader and consistent ball winner with three years of starting experience under his belt. He will be joined by senior Connor Langan (0g, 3a), a three-year starter, and senior Gregg Stratton (1g, 3a) who was a starter last year. Redshirt sophomores Hugo Jonsson (1g, 1a) who appeared in fourteen contests last year and Sean Green and redshirt junior Evan DeGreeff look to be among other returning defenders who will be in the hunt for a greater role in 2020. New recruits Samuel Ottley who is a transfer from Newberry College and Mattis Koch have the potential to compete for playing time in the back right away. 

Redshirt junior Michael Creek, the 2019 MVC Goalkeeper of the Year and a United Soccer Coaches All-West Region selection, returns between the pipes to anchor a Bear defense that allowed a total of only thirteen goals last year while posting nine shutouts. Creek has been the starter for the past two seasons. Redshirt junior Gage Steiner who saw action in two contests in 2020 also returns between the pipes. 

The midfield is somewhat of a question mark heading into the 2020 season due to the graduation of All-MVC First Team member and four-year starter Stuart Wilkin (5g, 4a) and All-MVC Second Team selection Ian Jones (3g, 2a). Both added an additional dimension to the attack. Juniors Jack Denton (0g, 9a) and Aadne Bruseth (2g, 2a), sophomore Kian Yari (0g, 1a) and redshirt sophomore Will Osgathorpe (1g, 2a) are among returning players who provide a sound foundation upon which to reload. Denton was effective in the defensive midfielder role and played a key role in putting into play most of Missouri State's set pieces. Bruseth appeared in fifteen contests last year with twelve starts. Yari gained valuable first year experience and was named to the MVC All Freshman Team. Osgathorpe played well before sustaining an injury early own that cut short his season. Nicolas Torres who transfers in from Iowa Western Community College is among the newcomers who should compete for minutes in the midfield right away.   

Replacing a consensus All-American like forward Matthew Bentley will not be an easy feat. Bentley trasferred to Missouri State last year after playing for West Virginia Wesleyan College for three seasons. Bentley's fifteen goals including six that game-winners had a lot to do with the increase in the Bears' offensive productivity from twenty-six goals in 2018 to forty-three goals in 2019. The good news is that All-American senior forward Josh Dolling (7g, 5a) is slated to return up-top to power the attack. Dowling is a pure finisher and power forward with big play ability as refected in his five game-winning goals last year. Juniors Nicolo Mulatero (2g, 1a) who appeard in twenty contests with fifteen starts last year and Dawson Lee (1g, 2a) who appeared in twenty games with nine starts and sophomore Jon Koka who saw action in seventeen matches also return up-top. .

The bottom line is that it will be difficult to acheive another eighteen win season but despite the loss of several key players due to graduation, the 2020 team returns the talent on both sides of the ball to again be very good.    

Newcomers

Jesus Barea - Midfielder - Cadiz, Spain - Putnam Science Academy - Scored eight goals at Putnam Science Academy last year. Played for Cadiz CF for three years where he was the team's leading scorer. 

Melvrik Fernandes - Midfielder - Orlando, Florida - Cypress Creek High School - A transfer from Division II Alderson Broaddus which is located in Philippi, West Virginia. Second Team-All-Conference selection last year.

Mattis Koch - Defender - Berlin, Germany - Played for three seasons at FC Union in Berlin. Team co-captain. 

Samuel Ottley - Defender - Telford, England - Transfer from Division II Newberry College where he played the past two seasons. Played with Wolverhampton and Barnsley clubs in England. 

Jack Stewart - Forward - Sydney Australia - Played for Sydney Olympic FC in Australia. Played for Blacktown City FC,  Sydney FC and Sydney United. 

Nicolas Torres - Midfielder - Linares, Chile - Played for Iowa Western College last year where he had ten goals and contributed fourteen assists. Played for Barton Community College in 2018 where he scored five goals. 


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