By: Matt Carney, Athletics Intern
MEDIA, Pa. – Penn State Brandywine Head Men's Soccer Coach Jesse Zafiratos announced that the team will welcome 11 new members this fall to the two-time defending Penn State University Athletic Conference squad.
"I love this group of incoming players for this year's freshman class. We are really looking forward to getting everyone together and getting started. The versatility we added with this class, along with our returners, will make us a tough draw every single match for our opponents," said Zafiratos.
The 2018 incoming class is comprised of Joey Cairy, Luca D'Aprano, Brandon Rochester, Evan Roland, Ian Roland, Gavin Rosier, Benjamin Sarafinas, Dominick Scrivano, Jared Sebzda, Tyler Skaer and Khafren Smith.
"Last year we started as many as seven freshman at one point. The student-athletes we have coming in have the ability to get on the field right away and push our current group of returning starters. Our depth is the best it's ever been in the history of the program," added Zafiratos, who owns a 31-8-1 record in two seasons at Brandywine.
Cairy, one of three recruits from nearby Sun Valley High School, is making his way to Brandywine this fall after receiving All-Ches-Mont League second team honors as a senior. Cairy, who also earned all-conference honorable mention during his time at Sun Valley, played baseball and frisbee for the Vanguards.
Coach Zafiratos on Joey Cairy: "I've known Joey for a while and love his gritty, fear-free play. He is someone that will push our current group of forwards for time and will give us more depth in the attacking third."
D'Aprano, a product of Downingtown East High School, comes to Brandywine after successful high school careers in both soccer and track and field. A four-year letter man in track and field for the Cougars, D'Aprano was a captain as a senior in both indoor and outdoor track, winning a Ches-Mont championship for the 400 meters. On the soccer field, D'Aprano was a three-time letter man, helping his team make three consecutive PIAA District 1 tournament appearances from his sophomore to senior year. Off the field, D'Aprano has been busy as a member of the Future Business Leaders of America, Model United Nations and as an assistant with the American Red Cross. He received the Cougar Excellence award and was named to both the National Honor Society and Spanish National Honor Society.
Coach Zafiratos on Luca D'Aprano: "Luca has the ability to play a few roles on the field. He has good pace and should be able to add depth up top for us."
Rochester arrives at Brandywine with four years of varsity soccer experience at The Christian Academy in Brookhaven. As a freshman, Rochester was awarded All-Tri-State Christian Athletic Conference second team laurels after leading the team to the TSCAC championship. As a senior, Rochester earned All-Bicentennial Athletic League first team honors, while winning the team's coach's award.
Coach Zafiratos on Brandon Rochester: "Brandon is another versatile player who really fits in to what we do. His ability to get forward as a wing back will help us a lot. He has great pace, is physically strong, and has a huge throw-in, which will add more attacking opportunities for us."
Evan Roland, the second Sun Valley prospect coming to Brandywine this fall, owns four years of varsity soccer experience. The Aston native finished his high school career as a two-time All-Ches-Mont League second team selection and team MVP.
Coach Zafiratos on Evan Roland: "Evan is super versatile and can play a multitude of roles on the field. One thing that really stood out to me about him is how hard he competes every single minute."
Ian Roland, twin brother of Evan, will also make his way to Media to join the Lions. Ian, a two-sport athlete at Sun Valley, played three years of varsity soccer, where he was named to First Team All-Ches-Mont and earned All-Delco honorable mention in addition to being the team's defensive most valuable player. During his senior year, Roland was also a member of the varsity basketball team.
Coach Zafiratos on Ian Roland: "Ian is a very technically sound player who should make his mark for us in the back. His feel for the game is great and I look forward to seeing him fit in with our team."
Rosier hails from Kennett Square in Chester County. A four-year varsity letter man in soccer, Rosier also possesses two years of varsity track experience. On the pitch, Rosier helped the Kennett High School soccer team to a 2017 district championship as the team made its first-ever state tournament appearance. In addition to his high school experience, Rosier was also the captain of the 2018 Delaware Rush Soccer Club.
Coach Zafiratos on Gavin Rosier: "Gavin comes from good high school and club programs where he played in the back. His knowledge and understanding of the game should help him with the transition into the college game."
Sarafinas lands at Brandywine with four years of high school soccer participation. From Downingtown West High School, Sarafinas played as a member of the varsity team as a senior and will join his older sister, Hannah, as a Brandywine student-athlete. Hannah will be a third-year member of the Brandywine volleyball team in the fall.
Coach Zafiratos on Ben Sarafinas: "Ben comes from a good program at Downingtown West and was impactful as a defender. He will add a lot of depth for us in the back."
Scrivano, a resident of Prospect Park, comes to Brandywine after a successful career at Interboro High School. A recipient of the Mag Patterson Sportsman of the Year Award, Scrivano was named to the All-Delaware Valley Conference first and second teams during his three-plus years as a varsity starter, while earning one All-Delco second team honor.
Coach Zafiratos on Dominick Scrivano: "Dom is our most versatile player coming in. I see him playing at the center back spot and contributing right away for us."
Sebzda makes his way to Brandywine boasting four years of soccer experience at William Tennent High School in Warminster, Pa. Sebzda played two years of varsity soccer as a junior and senior and received the Charlie Cunningham Sportsmanship Award.
Coach Zafiratos on Jared Sebzda: "Jared is a solid goalkeeper with great size whom is also a very good shot stopper. We are expecting him to compete for the staring keeper job right away."
Skaer plans to suit up for the Lions in 2018 after landing Second Team All-PIAA District 1 honors three-straight years after earning second team all-conference as a freshman. A two-year team captain, Skaer helped the Christian Academy to an undefeated conference record en route to winning the league championship in 2014. He also earned honors from TCA based on his athletic and academic prowess as a junior.
Coach Zafiratos on Tyler Skaer: "Tyler is someone who we rated very high. He's a natural holding mid who reads the game very well. I fully expect him to contribute for us as a freshman."
Smith will continue his soccer career at Brandywine after a productive career at Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia. A four-year starter, Smith was a two-time All-Public League selection, earning first team honors a senior and second team honors as junior. He was also selected to play in the Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer Association All-Star Classic, where he represented Philadelphia high school soccer. Smith was also captain of the Lower Merion Soccer Club in 2017-18, where he was the team's top goal scorer.
Coach Zafiratos on Khafren Smith: "We are expecting Khafren to come in right away and combine with Mohamed Camara as a deadly duo up top. His speed, skill, and ability to have an impact in the attacking third will help us immediately."
Brandywine opens the 2018 season on September 1 at home versus Manor College and will look to win a third-straight PSUAC championship in State College in October.
"The standard is super high for 2018 and we will be looking for our three captains, James Cellucci, Brandon Crochunis and Rajbir Lohat, to lead the way. James and Brandon are looking to go out on top and have been mainstays in the lineup throughout their careers, and Raj has the most heart out of any player that I've ever coached at any level. These three guys all lead by example and we will be counting on them heavily to lead us in the right direction," concluded Zafiratos.