Men's soccer head coach Eric Barnes has announced the initial group of recruits in the 2015 recruiting class on Thursday evening.
"I am ecstatic with the quality of people and players we were able to attract to Niagara University with this year's class," Barnes said. "We have added quality depth in every area of the field. We know these players will exhibit the character, quality and work ethic we expect out of our squad. I truly believe this is one of the strongest recruiting classes in Niagara history, and we're very excited to see what we can accomplish when we add them to our strong group of returning players this fall."
Nicolas Galvis Llano | 5-10 | 160 | Forward | St. Catharines, Ontario | Holy Cross Catholic S.S.
Galvis Llano was a high school standout who was named MVP of the senior soccer showcase in Niagara, Ontario. He played club soccer for the Burlington Bayhawks with incoming recruit Jace Kotsopoulos.
"Nick is a very dynamic player both with and without the ball," Barnes said. "He is a very dangerous 1v1 attacker with the ability to finish with either foot. He will be an exciting addition to the team and compete for playing time both up top and out wide."
Colin Hanley | 6-0 | 185 | Goalkeeper | Mandeville, LA | St. Paul's H.S.
Hanley arrives on Monteagle Ridge after spending three years as a starter for the St. Paul's High School varsity soccer team where he served as team captain as a junior and a senior. His junior season was his most decorated as he was named to the All-District First Team, All-State Second Team, and Louisiana Prep XI First Team as well as taking home the St. Paul's Athlete of the Year Award. As a senior he was named to the Academic All-State Team. TopDrawerSoccer.com rates him as a 4-Star Recruit and Everybodysoccer.com listed him as the 10th ranked goalkeeper in the country entering college this fall. Off the pitch, he was a part of the National Honor Society from sophomore-senior year and was a four-year member of the Principal's Honor Roll.
"Colin is a highly touted goalkeeper from Louisiana, who has received national attention," said Barnes. "He has all the tools to be successful in college and beyond. He has solid technique, soft hands, good communication and great distribution. I expect him to give our two returning goalkeepers a run for their money come preseason."
Jace Kotsopoulos | 5-9 | 160 | Midfielder | Burlington, Ontario | Corpus Christi
Kotsopoulos was a multi-sport athlete in high school, where he was named the male athlete of the year as a junior and a three-time soccer MVP. He was also named the 2014 male player of the year for Burlington Soccer Club.
"Jace is an exceptional attacking player with great vision and work rate," Barnes said. "He is a goal-scoring center midfielder with the ability to play final balls in the attacking third. His work rate defensively and movement offensively will make him a great asset to the squad."
Nick Laurini | 5-7 | 140 | Midfielder | Rochester, NY | Aquinas Institute
Laurini is coming off four years as a starter for the Aquinas varsity team. He led the team to three Section V semifinals and one Section V final. He won a Section V Bronze Medal, was a two-time All-Greater Rochester Honorable Mention, and won the Aquinas sportsmanship award. As a senior he won the school's Most Outstanding Player Award. In the classroom he was a four-time NYS scholar athlete.
"Nick is a local product out of Rochester, who is very sound technically," said Barnes. "Nick also has a very high soccer IQ. He has shown that he has the work rate, technical ability and understanding of the game to flourish in the midfield in our program."
Ryan Myers | 5-8 | 150 | Defender/Midfielder | Wallingford, PA | University of Pittsburgh
Myers joins the Purple Eagles after playing for the Pittsburgh Panthers as an undergraduate. He tallied four goals and six assists for 14 points over three seasons as a defender. He led the team in assists in both 2012 and 2013 and tied for the team-lead in points in 2013. He played for FC Delco Galaxy and Pittsgrove Premier Futbol Lightning where he was a three-time Eastern PA State Champion, New Jersey State Cup Champion and two-time Delaware State Cup Champion. Off of the field, he made the Dean's List at Pitt in 2012 and 2013. He was inducted into the National Society of Leadership and Success and will graduate from Pitt with a B.A. in Economics.
"Ryan was one of my first recruits at Pitt, and I am thrilled to have him joining us for his final year of eligibility," said Barnes. "He was a high quality student-athlete at Pitt both on the field and in the classroom. He has the ability to play anywhere in the midfield or on the back line, and we are expecting big things out of him this fall. "
Zachary Newton | 6-0 | 175 | Defender | Mandurah, Australia | Peninsula College
Newton comes to Niagara after two years at Peninsula College in Washington where he was a member of the 2012 and 2013 Northwest Athletic Conference Champion (NWAC) in both 2012 and 2013 while being named a NWAC All Star in 2013. He led Safety Bay High School to the State Championship in 2011. That same year, he played for the Washington State U-19 team at Nationals. In the classroom, he was named to the NWACC All-Academic Team in 2013. Newton spent the 2014 season at Farleigh Dickenson University before transferring to Niagara this spring.
"Zac is a prototypical left back who joined our squad this spring," Barnes said. "He is solid at 1v1 defending. He also has the engine to get forward and the quality to provide dangerous service in the attacking third. Zac is also versatile enough to play center back as well if needed. We expect him to earn a starting spot for his final year of eligibility this fall."
Steve Pondeca | 5-6 | 143 | Forward | Tucson, AZ | Marcus High School
Prior to joining the Purple Eagles, Pondeca played for the FC Dallas U-16 Academy and Andromeda U-18 Academy, both of which are members of the US Soccer Development Academy. Off of the pitch, he was an honor roll student for four years at Marcus High School.
"Steve is a dangerous attacking player with exceptional creativity and technical ability on the ball," said Barnes. "He also has great acceleration, which should make him a handful for any defender in our conference. Steve has the ability to play multiple positions but will likely play the majority of his minutes as a forward."
Koby Sapon-Amoah | 5-11 | 185 | Defender | Frisco, TX | Lone Star High School
Sapon-Amoah played for the Lone Star varsity soccer team his freshman year before joining Andromeda FC of the US Soccer Development Academy. He was also a four-year member of the Honor Roll. He was also invited to three U.S. Soccer National Training Center events.
"Koby is an athletic and intelligent centerback," said Barnes. "He is strong in the air, a solid tackler and has great recovery speed. He also has the technical ability to play out of pressure with a wide array of passes. Koby has all the tools to compete for time at both center back and right back for us."
Hector Solorio-Villalpando | 5-8 | 150 | Midfielder | Kansas City, MO | Oak Park High School
Solorio-Vallalpando is a member of Sporting KC U17/18 of the US Soccer Development Academy. Prior to joining Sporting KC, he played his freshman and sophomore seasons for the Oak Park varsity soccer team.TopDrawerSoccer.com rates Hector as a 4-Star Recruit and the No. 17 ranked recruit out of the Heartland region.
"Hector is a sound two-way center mid, who has the versatility to play in multiple positions," said Barnes. "Out of the Sporting KC MLS Academy, we know he will epitomize both the work rate and technical ability that we expect out of our squad. Hector will primarily compete for time as a central midfielder, but he does have the versatility to slot into other positions as well."
These nine players make up the first group of players for the 2015 recruiting class. The program still plans on adding additional players after its Prospect Showcase on March 29th at Niagara Field.