It's a new beginning for the Mastodons. A new coach, a new conference, and the addition of an eighteen member recruiting class. Purdue Fort Wayne checks all of the transition year boxes in 2020. .
Departures and Gaps – Departures include midfielder Kyle Hoagland who was a two-year stater, midfielder Nick Cozad, forwards Blake Cearns and Alex Frank who were two-year starters, defender Jan Schumacher and goalkeeper Tor Erik Larsen who was a two-year starter. .
Opportunities for Improvement – The Mastodons scored a total of ten goals and allowed a total of fifty-one last year. There is ample room for improvement on both sides of the ball in 2020.
Coach's Recruiting Class Coment – Stephen Gorton stated, "It was important for our program that we brought in student-athletes that will represent us culturally, academically, athletically and socially. This class has hometown, in-state, out of state and international talent. With a talented group of returners, it's important that we added strength and depth in all areas of the field.. All of these players will have the opportunity to compete for minutes right away allowing for a high level of internal competition on our roster."
Summary – Stephen Gorton takes over the reigns of the program from Mike Harper who stepped down as the Purdue Fort Wayne head coach after thirteen seasons with a career record of 65-150-22. Gorton's resume includes serving as an assistant coach at SIUE and Oakland and as the head coach of Garden City Commuity College.
The Mastodons will begin the 2020 campaign with a roster that includes eighteen newcomers and a handful of returning players. That's bad news for most teams, but it's probably good news when a team is coming off a twelve game losing streak and 3-15-0 overall record. Senior forwards Emil Fosse (0g, 3a) and Mathias Mikalsen, senior midfielder Nemanja Gvozdic (1g, 0a) and junior defenders Adam Chedi and Moses Akimana are among key returning players. Sophomore Mario Perez who played in two contests last year is the lone returning goalkeeper.
Freshman forward Angel Arismendiz out of the Indiana Fire Development Academy is among the newcomers who could add much needed additional punch to the attack up-top. Transfers Andy Lomeli from Valparaiso, Ali Nasser from Marshall and Alejandro Lopez from Prairie State College are among the members of the recruiting class who have the potential to make an immediate impact in the midfield. Transfer Vukasin Bulatovic from Valparaiso and freshman Nate Edwards look to be among the newcomers who will be in the hunt for minutes in the back right out of the gate.
This is truly a transitional year for the Mastodons who move from the Summit League to the Horizon League. Accordingly, it's hard to know what to expect from Purdue Fort Wayne in 2020. Rebuilds don't occur overnight. The Mastodons could surprise but realistically, they are probably a year or two away from having a legitimate chance of cracking the Horizon League's upper echelon. In meantime, Purdue Fort Wayne will likely continue to improve as building blocks are put into place but wins could still be difficult to come by in 2020. The Mastodons face a learning curve with a roster that includes many young and inexperienced players but chances are pretty good that Purdue Fort Wayne will be a stronger team in 2020, if for no other reason than the energy that Gorton will bring to the program.
Ali Nasser – Midfielder – Dearborn, Michigan – Edsel Ford High School – A redshirt transfer from Marshall. Played with Vardar Academy for three years recording twenty goals over seventy-six matches.
Brody Seaton – Midfielder – Peoria, Illinois – Peoria Notre Dame High School – First Team All-Conference at Peoria Notre Dame. Had seven goals and twenty assists in high school. Played club for Peoria FC and Central Illiniois United.
Ryan Gray – Defender – Troy, Michigan – Troy Athens High School – Freshman transfer from Marshall University. Played for Vardar Academy for four years during which he played in seventy contests with sixty-four starts.
Angel Arismendiz – Forward – Chicago, Illinois – George Washington High School – Had sixty-two career goals and thirty-five assists at George Washington High School. All-City and Chicagoland Soccer All-State. Played for Indiana Elite and Indiana Fire Academy.
Marco Navarro – Defender – Fort Wayne, Indiana – Homestead High School – Sophomore transfer from Oakland University. Had twenty career goals and twelve assist at Homestead High School. All-State Honorable mention. First Team All-District. All-Great Region. Played with FC Pride. Played in two contests as a freshman at Oakland University.
Adam Hunt – Goalkeeper – New Palestine, Indiana – New Palestine High School – All-Conference and All-County selection. Second Team All-District selection. Played for FC Pride and Indiana Fire Academy.
Zain Akeel – Midfielder – Rochester Hills, Michigan – Detroit County Day School – Played for Vardar Academy with eleven career goals in thirty-seven contests.
Damon Almazan – Midfielder – Joilet, Illinois – Joliet West High School – All-Conference selection. Named Attacking MVP at Joliet West High School. Played for Chicago Magic Soccer Club.
Erik Josson – Goalkeeper – Bloomfield Hills, Michigan – Bloomfield Hills High School – All-State, All-Region, All-District and All-Academic selection at Bloomfield Hills. Played club for the Michigan Wolves, Nationals Union and Vardar Academy as a senior.
Romario Simpson – Defender – Vaughan, Ontario – Maple High School – Played for Vaughan Soccer Club for seven years.
Nathaniel Edwards – Defender – Brampton, Ontario – St. Edmund Campion – Played for Vaughan Soccer Club. MVP for St. Edmund Campion.
Luke Benford – Forward – Canton, Michigan – Salem High School – Scored thirteen goals and contributed eight assists as a senior at Salem High School. First Team All-State, All-Region, and Michigan All-State Dream Team. Played club for the Michigan Jaguars.
Seth Russ – Defender – Mason, Michigan – Mason High School – All-State selection in 2018. Played for Vardar Academy making sixteen appearances and scoring three goals.
Alejandro Lopez – Midfielder – Hammond, Indiana – George Rogers Clark High School – Junior transfer from Prairie State College where he played for two seasons during which he scored twenty-four goals and contributed eight assists. All-Region selection.
Andy Lomeli – Midfielder – Dyer, Indiana – Lake Central High School – Sophomore transfer from Valparaiso were he was named to the Missouri Valley All-Freshman Team in 2019. Scored two goals at Valparaiso in 2019.
Vukasin Bulatovic – Defender – Elmwood Park, Illinois – Elmwood High School – Sophomore transfer from Valparaiso where he played in seventeen games in 2019 and recorded two assists.
Danny Salazar – Goalkeeper – East Chicago, Indiana – Bishop Noll High School – Sophomore transfer from Valparaiso where he appeared in one contest in 2019. Played for Indiana Elite FC. Four-year letterwinner at Bishop Noll High School.
Josue Fernandez – Midfielder – South Holland, Illinois – Thornwood High School – Sophomore transfer from Valparaiso where he played in two contests in 2019. Played for Chicago Fire Academy. Played for the Portland Timbers Academy. Two-time IHHSCA All-Conference and All-Sectional selection at Thornwood High School.