Four SOCA graduates are presently enjoying a deep run into the NCAA men’s soccer championships with their Virginia Tech teammates. In their most recent “Sweet Sixteen” match against 7th ranked Indiana University, the Hokies advanced 2-1 over the favored Hoosiers, off goals from SOCA alumni Forrest White and Brandon Moyers. Moyers is a freshman and is joined by classmates and SOCA teammates, James Kasak and Burke Bender. Moyers has been a regular starter playing in all 21 matches this season. Kasak has played in every game and has been an important contributor. Bender was seeing regular action prior to receiving a season-ending knee injury earlier in the year.
Of the five ACC teams in the NCAA Division I men’s quarterfinals, the big surprise is Virginia Tech. The unseeded Hokies, who had knocked off No. 10 Charlotte, 3-2, in the second round, beat Indiana in the third round on Forrest White’s golazo in overtime. White, a junior, grew up playing in SOCA and is enjoying his best year at Tech. Watch the video of his game winning golden goal, here: https://vimeo.com/193264900
The Hoosiers had the majority of play, with a 24-8 shots margin and 9-0 advantage in corner kicks, but the Hokies were able to score first from Brendan Moyers’ goal at the 19 minute mark. Indiana finally found the equalizer in the 77th minute, ultimately sending the game into overtime.
In overtime, IU again had the bulk of possession, but the Hokies were able to find the winner when White unleashed a left footed beauty from the top of the penalty box. The shot curled and thumped off the left post and into the goal, leaving the Hoosiers in despair, and sending the Hokies into ecstasy.
“Today’s result was a great team win,” said Virginia Tech coach Mike Brizendine.
The SOCA gang at Tech will next face second ranked Wake Forest on Saturday in the “Elite Eight” round. Tech last advanced to the College Cup final four in 2007, where they were eliminated by Wake Forest. The SOCA Hokies will be hoping to help their mates get past their ACC rivals and land in the Cup with a chance at the top prize this time.
2014 saw another great class of talented players graduate out of the SOCA Elite travel program, including many players who decided to continue their soccer careers at the collegiate level. Spanning different programs across the eastern seaboard and at every different level of intercollegiate play, the players continue to represent the SOCA community well.
Leading the way, former U18 Girls Elite member, Morgan Mays is making an impact at Division 1 program Marshall University. Seeing playing time in every match, Mays has found a niche as a spark off the bench for the Thundering Herd, garnering high praise from head coach Kevin Long at the start of the season, “Morgan I’ve seen play a lot of times. You can see she’s got a motor and she’s technical. She’s got some vision that not everyone on the field has, so she’s able to put through some great balls and she’s really dynamic with those. It’s great to see a freshman carry not only her own load, but the team as well. It’s great to see from a young player so early in her career.”
Last year’s U18 Girls Elite coach, Matt Wilson echoed those sentiments saying “It was a pleasure working with Morgan last year. She not only was a special player with a genuine creative spirit in the attacking third, but she was also a great leader and teammate.”
In addition to Mays, two other players from last year’s U18’s are making early on-field contributions to their respective teams. Rachel Cooke joined ODAC powerhouse and the #6 nationally ranked Lynchburg College Hornets, and after recovering from an offseason injury, is beginning to return to form. Having now tallied 1 goal from 6 matches played, Cooke should only continue to impress as the opportunities develop within the undefeated squad.
Former teammate Alexis Hucek has played in every match of the season for the Franklin and Marshall Diplomats, a Division 3 program in Pennsylvania. Hucek who found the program late in her senior high school year, is rounding into an important part of the young team, starting 3 matches from 8. Coach Wilson was particularly pleased with Hucek’s start to the season. “I knew Alexis could play collegiately, but sometimes it is difficult to find the right mix of school and soccer program for every player. It appears that F&M has been that for her.”
The U18’s were not the only team to graduate players into the college ranks last year. The U17 Girls Elite had 2 players join College programs; Hannah Kengerski joined Pennsylvania’s standout Division 2 program Slippery Rock, and Sarah Grupp made the trip up to New York’s D3 SUNY Oswego.
Grupp in particular has jumped right into the mix with the Lakers. The dual sport star (ice hockey as well) has started every match this season and has logged the third most game-minutes of any member of the team. Scoring her first 2 collegiate goals in the last week prompted this reaction from SOCA’s Director of Coaching and U17 Girls Elite Coach Dan Ensley. “Sarah Grupp is the type of player you can build a team around, and it comes as no surprise to me that this seems to be exactly what they are doing in Oswego. She not only has the potential, but the ability to be a great contributor to that program”.
In addition to those players already mentioned, the 2013-14 SOCA Girls Elite produced the following college program members: Kelly Hansen and Megan Wenger at Division 3 Randolph Macon and Tina Wulin at Division 2 Davis and Elkins.
SOCA’s Elite Travel program continues to provide the technical and tactical training necessary for players to play at the next level. In addition, SOCA’s participation in the Club Champions League and Atlantic Soccer League college showcase events provides the recruiting opportunities necessary for players to form valuable relationships in the vast world of college recruiting. Congratulations to last year’s graduating class and good luck with the remainder of their respective seasons.
Six members of the boys 2014 Elite travel program graduating class are presently pursuing their college soccer dreams on playing fields from Maine to North Carolina. The 21013/2014 U18 squad was a talented group who won the VYSA State Cup at the U16 age group and maintained a close-knit team environment as the roster composition evolved over their final years with SOCA.
Bill Mueller, who coached the team in their final year with SOCA, praised the group for their ability on and off the field. “This was a really terrific group of young men. Many of them had been with the club right from the beginning, starting at Hots Shots, continuing through Recreation, Challenge and eventually to the Elite level of travel soccer. Added to that core group were other gifted players from surrounding communities who joined in and contributed to the team. These guys were talented on the field and mature and responsible off the field, and had great academic accomplishments. I am not surprised by the success some of the graduates are having in college soccer.”
Battling last year in the inaugural state-wide CCL campaign provided the players solid experience for college level play. Competition in the top quality regional league is fierce at the high school age groups. Competing in top level tournaments, State Cup play and the Disney Showcase further tested the team’s mettle and honed skills.
“I used to tell the boys that there were no easy games left,” said Mueller. “Every league match and every single tournament and Cup game was going to be a challenge. At the U18 age group, only serious players and serious teams remained playing at our level. They were tested in each match, and they grew as a result.”
SOCA’s current Elite level teams are similarly being tested by top flight competition and are getting prepared to advance to college soccer and beyond.
Leading the list of 2014 graduates is Forrest White, who now plays for D1 Virginia Tech. White has played in six of the teams seven matches to date, getting the starting nod four times. White has played nearly 60% of the available minutes for the Hokies, who play a hugely demanding national schedule. The squad presently has a winning 4-3 record after posting a big win over Wake Forest the other night. Look for White to continue to make contributions to the squad in the remainder of the season. Follow Tech soccer here: http://www.hokiesports.com/msoccer/
At D3 Christopher Newport University, two SOCA grads are enjoying being ranked sixth nationally in men’s soccer, with a 6-1-1 record to date. Henry Gotay and Girma Baker are both getting playing time on the outstanding Captains squad. Gotay has played in all eight matches, starting two and logging a single assist in the scoring column so far. Baker has seen action in four of the matches as the Captains have faced competition from around the country. Check out CNU soccer here: http://www.cnusports.com/index.aspx?path=msoc&tab=0
Michael Nafziger, co-captain of the SOCA U18’s last year, has been a major contributor at D3 Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. The Garnet have posted an impressive 6-1 record, with Nafziger seeing action in all seven matches, starting six, having played 75% of the available minutes in regular season competition. Find more Swarthmore men’s soccer info here: http://www.swarthmoreathletics.com/index.aspx?path=msoc
Further afield, at Bowdoin College in Maine, 2014 co-captain Frankie Ahrens has earned a roster spot on the Polar Bears squad (http://athletics.bowdoin.edu/sports/msoc/index) while in North Carolina, Scott Christman has earned a roster spot on the D2 Belmont Abbey Crusaders (http://abbeyathletics.com/sports/msoc/index).
“It speaks well of these players and their preparation through the club, that so many are not only playing college soccer, but are major contributors as freshman on high-level teams,” said Mueller. “Other members of last year’s team have opted to prioritize their academic pursuits at great schools like Yale and UVa. I am really proud of all the 2014 U18 team members. The represented SOCA with class and quality as a team, and are now great ambassadors for the club in their new pursuits.”
SOCA provides excellent exposure opportunities for Elite players through CCL and ASL events, top tournaments and VYSA State Cup play. SOCA maintains strong relationships with college coaches throughout the region and enjoys a favorable reputation for developing quality players and quality team members at the college level.
Coming next: report on 2014 girls Elite graduates in college soccer.
A number of SOCA alumni are contributing heavily to Division 1 College soccer programs this season. Follow the links below to read about some of their early season accolades. Congratulations to these players and all of our alumni playing at the next level of soccer.
Ben Coffey gets winning assist in W&M victory over #1 in the country Creighton.
Kai Marshall garners ACC player of the week honors.
Dale Ludwig gets off to a bright start with American, as the Patriot League Offensive Player of the week.
Sophmore Leci Irving is a pre-season All CAA honorable mention for William and Mary.