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North Carolina State 2015 Team and Recruiting Class Review

School – North Carolina State
Conference – Atlantic Coast 
Coach – Kelly Findley (5th Season)
Background – N.C. State ws 7-7-4 overall in 2014 with a 1-4-3 mark in conference play. Their biggest win of the season was a 2-1 victory over Louisville. The Wolfpack had eight wins in 2013, ten wins in 2012 and seven wins in 2011. N.C. State has made thirteen appearances in the NCAA Tournament with the last being the 2009 season. Midfielder Holden Fender was named to the 2014 All-ACC Third Team and midfieder Zach Knudson was named to the ACC All-Freshman team.   
Offense – The Wolfpack has some work to do due to the fact that they will be without their top two point producers and goal scorers from the 2014 team. Highly regarded junior forward Travis Wannemuehler (3g, 4a) who was a starter last year returns up-top. Sophomore Ryan Peterson (1g, 1a) and redshirt freshman Ade Taiwo (0g, 1a) who missed all but five games last year due to injury are among other returning players who figure to play a prominent role in the attack. Highly regarded freshmen Tanner Roberts and Stephen Elias who participated in the spring season are among the newcomers who could add an additional dimension to the offense up-top. Senior Holden Fender (1g, 4a), junior Yanni Hachem (4g, 1a) and sophomore box to box playmaker Zach Knudson (4g, 2a) are among returning midfielders who were starters last year who should play key roles in 2015. Sophomore Cameron Steele and senior Seth Poole are among other returning players who look to be in the mix in the midfield or in the back in 2015. Midfielder Julius Duchsherer from Germany is among the newcomers with the athleticism, skill and competitive experience to make an immediate contribution.     
Defense – Departures due to graduation include back Clement Simonin who missed a large portion of the 2014 season but was still the ninth overall pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft, Matt Ingram (0g, 4a), Moss Jackson-Atogi, and Ryan Metts (3g, 0a). The Wolfpack will also be without back Conor Donovan (1g, 1a) who signed a Generation adidas contract at the conclusion of his freshman season and elected to enter the professional ranks. Returning backs who look to play key roles in 2015 include senior Reed Norton (3g, 0a) and sophomores Caleb Duvernay (0g, 1a) and Matias Fracchia. Freshmen Simon Blotko and Martin Boehmer are among the newcomers who look to be in the mix in the back. Redshirt junior Alex McCauley who had a 1.21 goals against average with six shutouts last year returns in goal to anchor the defense. Junior Boo Davis also returns between the pipes.   

Newcomers – Four Star Recruiting Class  

Coach Findley stated, "This is a great group of people and players. They are all hard-working, driven, and hungry to help us reach our goals. I know they will compliment our current group of players well, and help us continue progressing as a program."

Simon Blotko – Defender – Germany – Spent last year with Wuppertaler SV. Played in the U19 Bundesliga West as a U-18 player for Fortuna Dusseldorf.  

Martin Bohmer – Defender – Germany – Led U19 FC Energie Cottbus Academy to Bundesliga promotion and German U19 Cup final in 2014-15.

Julius Duchscherer – Midfielder – Germany – Made forty appearances in Regionalliga and ten appearances in the Rhineland Cup for TuS Koblenz.   

Harrison Romero – Goalkeeper – Gastonia, North Carolina – Gaston Day School – Played club for the Carolina Rapids from 2013-2015. Set a school and Gaston County record with nineteen shutouts in 2015.

Stephen Elias – Forward – Rye, New York – Iona Prep – Ranked by CSN as the number 93 player in the class of 2015. Played for NY Red Bulls U-18 Academy in 2014. Played with Albertson Soccer Club and FC Weststchester U-16 Academy team.

Tyler Gabarra – Midfielder – Arnold, Maryland – Broadneck High School – NSCAA All-America selection. Washington Post/Baltimore Sun All-Met selection. Played for the Baltimore Celtic Soccer Club in 2013-2014. 

Ben Locke – Midfielder – Charlotte, North Carolina – Charlotte County Day School – Played for Charlotte Soccer Academy. All-Conference selection. Conference Player of the Year. All-Region selection. All-State selection.

Tanner Roberts – Forward –  Huntersville, North Carolina – Hough High School – Played for Carolina Rapids Academy. Ranked by CSN as the number 43 player in the class of 2015. 

Clayton Sparks – Forward – Jacksonville, North Carolina – Jacksonville High School – NSCAA All-American. Netted 119 career goals and 52 assists at Jacksonville High School. Named North Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year. All-State.

Aidan Wixted – Defender – Melbourne Beach, Florida – Melbourne High School – Plays with Orlando City Pro Academy. Ranked by CSN as the number 96 player in the class of 2015. Member of the Chicago Magic PSG Academy residency program in 2013-2014. 

Prognosis for 2015 –  N.C. State will enter the 2015 campaign with several gaps to plug due to graduation, transfers, and the decision of Conor Donovan to enter the professional ranks after his freshman season. The Wolfpack return several very capable and experienced players in junior forward Travis Wannemuehler, senior holding midfielder Holden Fender, junior attacking center midfielder Yanni Hachem, senior back Reed Norton who may also be utilized up-top, and red shirt junior netminder Alex McCauley. The healthy return of redshirt freshman forward Ade Taiwo who missed most of the 2014 season due to injury is a plus as is the experience that sophomores like midfielder Zach Knudson, back Caleb Duvernay and forward Ryan Peterson gained last year. However, the fact remains that N.C. State will be a young team in 2015 with a steep learning curve in a conference in which the margin for error is very slight. Depth could also be a problem. On the plus side Findley has added a very promising recruiting class and the Pack will likely be a team that is very hungry and motivated to increase their win total and climb upward in the ACC hierarchy. For that to happen the upper classmen must set the pace and several of the younger players will have to grow up quickly. You can count on Findley bringing about improvement but it will likely be gradual and not sudden in the highly competitive Atlantic Coast Conference where there are no easy wins. N.C. State may not challenge for one of the top spots in the Atlantic Division but this is a team that will not be an easy out and should improve as the season progresses.   


Posted in 2015 Team Reviews

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