MEDIA, Pa. -- Penn State Brandywine Head Men's Soccer Coach Jesse Zafiratos announced the 11 members of the team's 2017 recruiting class on Friday.
Joining the nine returning student-athletes from the 2016 PSUAC championship team are freshmen Jason Abu, Rajbir Lohat, Mohamed Camara, Steve Medvid, Owen Parente, Jeff Reed, Chris Riebman, Jack Sweeney, Brandon Welden and Dannie Willie, along with transfers Julian Evans and Nate Truett.
"We are really looking forward to getting everyone together and getting started," said Zafiratos. Last year was a dream season for us, but you have to leave that in the past and focus on the present."
"We have almost 60 goals to replace after losing Bill Walleekendeh and Brad Jule to graduation. With that, I am really excited to add this class in to our current group of returnees. They are all very eager to contribute right away and as a coach, that's all you can ask for. We added a lot of speed, skill, and scoring, but most importantly, we added a ton of depth. We will be so much more balanced in our front five this year and will keep a lot of quality talent on the field even when we bring in our reserves, " added Zafiratos.
Abu was a member of the varsity soccer team at Penn Wood High School, earning All-Del-Val League honors as a senior, while also receiving the school's scholar athlete award. During his club career, he earned the Outstanding Performance Award in the Delco League during the 2016 season.
"Jason can play a multitude of spots in the back and in the midfield. He has really good pace and good technical skills which should allow him to be dangerous moving forward," said Zafiratos.
Camara captained the Upper Darby High School boys' soccer team where he was the team's leading scorer as a senior. Camara was selected to the All-Central League Second Team and was named Second Team All-Delco by the Delaware County Times. Additionally, Camara competed in the EPYSA Senior All-Star Game, while playing club soccer at FC Continental Academy.
"Mohamed is probably our most athletic player coming in. He has great pace and loves to get forward in the attacking third. We will be relying on him to put the ball in the back of the net for us right away," said Zafiratos.
Evans is a transfer from Penn State Schuylkill after playing at nearby Interboro High School. During two seasons at Schuylkill, Evans totaled four assists, while playing in 29 games. At Interboro, he was a four-year varsity member of the soccer team, helping Interboro to a pair of Del-Val League championships. He was also named honorable mention all-conference.
"Julian will add depth to our backline and midfield as a transfer from Penn State Schuylkill. He has a great attitude and will look to contribute right away," said Zafiratos.
Lohat was a four-year member of the Marple Newtown High School soccer squad. He landed honorable mention all-conference honors and competed in the EPYSA Senior All-Star Game.
"We are expecting big things right away from Raj. His versatility, athleticism and ability to get forward in the attacking third will all be huge assets for us. He will contribute in the midfield right away for us," said Zafiratos.
Medvid was a member of the Cardinal O'Hara High School boys' soccer team prior to arriving at Brandywine. He also competed for the O'Hara track and field team.
"Steve is an athletic right back to loves to get forward in the attack. He will add a lot of depth to our team defensively and in the midfield," said Zafiratos.
Parente played three seasons of varsity soccer for the Sun Valley High School boys' team. As a junior, he was named honorable mention all-Ches-Mont and was selected as Sun Valley's most improved player. Parente also helped his club team, the Rose Tree Strikers, to a Delco League championship in 2014.
"Owen is a left-footed left back who is gritty and not afraid to mix it up. His ability to get forward will help us as well. He has improved tremendously over the last year or so and I really expect him to push our returning players for playing time," said Zafiratos.
Reed joins the Brandywine men's soccer team after completing his four-year varsity career at Chichester High School. A team sportsmanship award winner, Reed was tabbed as the team's defensive player of the year during his junior season, while also serving as the captain for his club team.
"Jeff has great vision off his line and has a fantastic attitude. He has the ability to make the big save and will look to push our current group of goalkeepers," said Zafiratos.
A native of Mt. Airy, Md., Riebman spent nearly three years on the varsity team at Linganore High School. As a senior, Riebman was named Second Team All-State.
"Chris is going to be a huge part of what we do in the attacking third. His technical skills are very good, he has extremely quick feet, and is a very good 1-on-1 playmaker. We expect him to have a huge impact in games for us," said Zafiratos.
A two-sport athlete at Cherry Hill High School West in New Jersey, Sweeney was a two-year starter in soccer and started for the boys' lacrosse team for three seasons. During his senior season, Sweeney assisted on the game-winning goal in the Coaches Cup semifinals, helping the team to a Coaches Cup championship and a division championship in 2016.
"Jack comes from a very elite high school and club program which will help him right away. His IQ and knowledge of the game is great. He has good technical skills and plays extremely simple on the wing and in the midfield," said Zafiratos.
A goalkeeper, Welden joins Brandywine's men's soccer team after playing four years of varsity soccer at Interboro High School. A two-time All-Del Val League First Team selection, Welden claimed a total of three all-conference honors during his career in net.
"Brandon has good size at 6-foot-2 and has good athleticism. He is a good shot stopper and he will compete for the starting GK position right away," said Zafiratos.
Willie, who was teammates with Camara at Upper Darby High School, topped the team in assists, while earning All-Central League accolades. A team captain, Willie spent three seasons as a varsity starter. He also played club soccer for Nether 1776, helping the team to a top-10 ranking in the state.
"Dannie is a good technical player who will contribute for us on the wing right away. His ability to beat guys in 1-on-1 situations and create opportunities for teammates will help us in the attacking third moving forward," said Zafiratos.
Truett, a transfer from NCAA Division III Pitt-Bradford, where he played one season, is the James
Buchanan High School career record holder for points and goals scored. A three-time Mid-Penn League First Team selection, Truett was Public Opinion Player of the Year in 2011. Truett also competed for the Harrisburg City Islanders from 2008-12, earning All-USL Second Team accolades during his final two seasons. He was a CAPA '94 State Cup winner in 2008.
Brandywine, which has won three of the last four PSUAC titles, begins its season September 1 at St. Vincent College (5:00 pm).
"There are a lot of teams looking to knock us off after last year. The key to us being successful is to just get better every day at training, to continuously stay focused on the little detailed things, and most importantly, to stick together as a group when adversity hits. If these things all come into fruition, we will be right there again come November," added Zafiratos.