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North Carolina State University 2014 Team and Recruiting Class Review

School – North Carolina State University
Conference – Atlantic Coast Conference
Coach – Kelly Findley (Fourth Season)
Background – Coach Findley is clearly putting in place a solid foundation but the inability to consistently put together a full 90-minutes of play and the inability to finish continue to remain opportunities for improvement. N.C. State was 8-5-4 overall in 2013 with a 3-5-3 mark in conference play. With an RPI of 39 and signature wins over North Carolina and William and Mary and ties with nationally ranked Virginia and Wake Forest the Pack thought they had enough positives to earn an at-large berth and return to the NCAA Tourney field for the first time since the 2007 season.  The selection committee felt otherwise.   
Offense – Redshirt senior forward Nick Surkamp (8g, 2a) who led the Pack in goal scoring last year returns up-top with sophomore Travis Wannemuehler who was one of eight forwards to receive an invite to attend the U.S. U-20 training camp in January. Incoming freshman forward Ade Taiwo should challenge for playing time. The midfield will require some rebuilding due to the graduation of Nazmi Albadawi (5g, 3a), Alex Martinez (2g, 8a) and Danny DiPrima (1g, 2a).  However, a solid necleus of linkmen are slated to return including junior Holden Fender (1g, 2a), sophomores Michael Bajza (2g, 2a) and Roland Minogue, and redshirt junior Phillip Camon (1g, 0a).  
Defense – The Pack must replace back Gbenga Makinde (0g, 5a) and Fabian Otte who was the starter in goal for the past two seasons. The backline looks to be a plus with senior Moss Jackson-Atogi (1g, 2a), sophomore Clement Simonin (4g, 3a), redshirt senior Ryan Metts, and senior Matt Ingram returning.  Incoming freshman defender Conor Donovan is among several of the new recruits with the potential to contribute immediately. Junior Alex McCauley who saw action in one game in goal last year and sophomore Jonathan Davis are the returning goalkeepers.  Incoming freshman Marius Heislitz should also compete for the starting job in goal.     

Newcomers – Five Star Recruiting Class

Findley stated, "We are pleased to add these players to our current squad.  They are all driven, highly motivated players who want to help NC State reach its goals."

Conor Donovan – Defender – Fuquay-Varina, N.C. – Cardinal Gibbons High School – NSCAA Youth All-American.  Rated by College Soccer News as the number 15 player in the class of 2013.  Trained with the U.S. U-18 and U-20 National Teams. Played for Capital Area Red Hawks. 

Caleb Duvermay – Defender – Cary, N.C. – Ranked by College Soccer News as the 72nd player in the class of 2013.  Participated in the U-15 U.S. National Team and U-17 National Team Residency Program.  Played for Capital Area Red Hawks.

Marius Heislitz – Goalkeeper – Cumming, Georgia – Ranked by College Soccer News as the the number 37 player in the class of 2013.  Member of the U.S. U-18 National Team.  Played for Georgia United Academy.  Four-year member Georgia ODP team.

Matias Fracchia – Defender – Roselle Park, New Jersey – Member of U.S. U-20 National Team.  Ranked by College Soccer News as the number 100 player in the class of 2013.  Played for NJSA 04.

Zuch Knudson – Midfielder – Oakland, New Jersey – Played for Players Development Academy for three years.  Trained with clubs in Colombia and Spain.

Andrew Malinich – Midfielder – New Orleans, La. – All-State in 2012 and 2013. Member 2013 Greater New Orleans All-Metro Team.  Played club with Louisiana Fire Juniors. Netted 95 career goals and contributed 54 assists for high school team.

Reed Norton – Defender – Evans Georgia – Started thrity-five games at Georgia Southern University.  All-Southern Conference First team selection in 2013.  Played for the Concorde Fire. Ranked by Colllege Soccer as the 50th best player in the class of 2012. 

Ryan Peterson – Forward – Mount Olive, New Jersey – Three-time All-Conference First Team selection.  Three-Time All-County.  Netted 62 goals and contributed 40 assists in high school.  Played for Players Development Academy.  

Nick Retzlaff – Midfielder – Wake Forest, North Carolina – Played for Capital Area Railhawks Academy.  Played for CASL 15/16 Academy.  Member Region III Team.

Ade Taiwo – Forward – Raleigh, N.C. – Cardinal Gibbons High School – Ranked by College Soccer News as the number 29 player in the class of 2013.  Named North Carolina 2012 Gatorade Player of the Year.  2012 NSCAA High School All-American. Member U-17 National Team Residency Program.   

Prognosis for 2014 – It is impressive that the Wolfpack upped their RPI by 55 spots from 2012 to 2013. In the past the Pack has played very well at times establishing that they can compete with anyone but consistency has been a problem due in part to lack of depth and key injuries.  When the Workpack begins putting together a full 90-minutes of play on a consistent basis and begins finishing a higher percentage of the scoring opportunities that come their way their win total will increase.  That is easier said than done but the 2014 season may be the year in which the Pack turns the corner. Findley has added a group of newcomers that is among one of the better recruiting hauls in the country and should have the N.C. State faithful excited. Many feel it is just a matter of time before Findley ups the win total at N.C. State and has the Pack in the NCAA Tourney on a consistent basis. Patience and persistence are keys in that regard. Surkamp gives the Pack a very good finisher up-top but beyond him there is a lot of uncertainty. Others are going to have to step forward to add balance to the offense. If the newcomers are able to contribute the chances are pretty good that N.C. State will move upward a few spots in conference play and have a good shot at moving out of the bubble team category and earning an NCAA Tourney berth. However, it is unlikely that they will be strong enough from top to bottom to break into the top three or four spots in the highly competitive Atlantic Coast Conference in 2014.  

Posted in 2014 Team Reviews

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