Clayton State Announces Men's Soccer Recruiting Class
MORROW, Ga. – Coming off the best season in program history, Clayton State men’s head soccer coach Pete Petersen has reloaded his squad for the 2011 season with an impressive incoming recruiting class.
Petersen announced on Tuesday the 14-player class that includes four Division I transfers, plus one U.S. National Team player and two junior college All-Americans. This group joins 12 talented returning players from last season’s 19-4 Laker squad that won the Peach Belt Conference championship, advanced to the NCAA Division II “Elite Eight” and was ranked fifth in the nation in the final NSCAA Division II Top 25.
Amongst the returning players includes Division II All-American forward and Peach Belt Conference Player of the Year Ryan Pugh, Division II All-Southeast Region goalkeeper Brian Garcia and forward Matty Phillips and Peach Belt Conference Freshman of the Year Arturo Cruz.
“This is a big class, and on paper it brings in a lot of talent,” said Petersen, who is 88-36-15 entering his eighth season at the Clayton State helm. “Take this class and add it to the returning players, and that is a lot of meat and potatoes. I have to come up now with the right spices to make a complete meal!”
The big key for Petersen was on defense and replacing graduating Division II All-American Igor Lukic at central defender. Petersen believes he has done that with the addition of Chris Klute, a native of Grand Prairie, Texas and a transfer from Furman.
The 6-foot-1, 180-pound Klute was a 2007 NSCAA/Adidas Youth All-American and a member of both the U-17 and U-20 U.S. National Teams. He started one game for the U-17 National Team and helped the U.S. team advance to the round of 16 at the 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup in South Korea.
Klute last played for Furman in the 2008 season, and will have three seasons of eligibility remaining at Clayton State. He played on the North Atlanta Soccer Association (NASA) club team under head coach Todd Gispert that lost in the USYSA U-19 national championship game in 2009, and earned the Golden Boot Award as the tournament’s top player.
Petersen sees him continuing the strong tradition of central defenders at Clayton State, following in the footsteps of All-American and All-Region standouts Josh Grenier, Alex Dowling, Karl Haggon and Lukic before him.
“He will be the new anchor to our defense, along with team captain and returning senior central defender Sam Bevan,” said Petersen. “Chris is very intelligent with his positioning and physically very fast.”
The other significant Division I transfer for the Lakers this season will be midfielder Janny Rivera, who comes to Clayton State from South Carolina. He played in 20 games for the Gamecocks last season. Prior to signing with South Carolina, Rivera was a 2009 NJCAA All-American at Louisburg College, helping pace Louisburg to the 2009 NJCAA “Final Four.”
Midfielder Brian Forero, a native of Fayetteville, Ga., comes to Clayton State after playing one season at Georgia State in 2007. He played in 18 games with 14 starts for the Panthers that season, scoring two goals. Forero prepped at Whitewater High School, where he was a teammate of Pugh, and played club soccer for the Fayette Lightning. Forero was also a Georgia ODP standout as well as regional ODP midfielder.
Transferring to Clayton State from Kentucky is forward Taylor White. A 6-foot-3, 205-pounder from Marietta, White played two seasons for the Wildcats in 2008 and 2009. He played in 13 games with seven starts as a freshman, tallying two goals and two assists, and 13 games with six starts during his sophomore season.
White prepped at Georgia Class 5A power Walton High School in Marietta under prominent head coach Bucky Boozer. He helped pace the Raiders to the 2006 Class 5A state championship. White also played club soccer for the Concorde Fire under head coach Greg Blasingame, leading that club to three straight state club championships.
Laker fans will be reminded of former standout forward Victor Duncan when they see imposing forward Kenny Mena on the field this fall. Continuing the long pipeline of JUCO All-Americans to come to Clayton State from Tyler Junior College, Mena was a 2009 NJCAA All-American at Tyler, leading head coach Steve Clements’ Apaches to the NJCAA National Championship. The 6-1, 192-pounder scored 11 goals with two assists that season, and seven goals and one assist during his freshman season.
Tyler defeated Georgia Perimeter in that national championship game, and Petersen will bolster the scoring with the addition of Georgia Perimeter transfers who also played in that game - Alejandro Duque in midfield and Aziz Izmour at forward. Duque, a native of Norcross, Ga., ranked sixth in NJCAA Region XVII in scoring with 10 goals and seven assists, while Izmour, from Alpharetta, Ga., battled injuries throughout the season but still managed four goals and five assists to finished tied for 16th in the region in scoring.
Four freshmen will also be joining the Laker fold this season, including two locally.
Goalkeeper Jon Skinner was a standout at North Oconee High School and the Georgia Soccer Association (GSA) Phoenix Red club team, coached by Nuno Piteira that was ranked second in the nation. Defender Matt Roskind was the defensive anchor on a North Cobb High School squad that advanced two straight seasons to the Class 5A state playoffs and played for the NASA Elite 11 club under head coach Ray Tomlin.
Joining the Lakers from overseas are freshman midfielder Elliot Prost from Dijon, France, and 6-5, 200-pound defender Marcel Enghardt from Bremen, Germany.
In addition, three former Lakers will be returning to the program for the upcoming season. Sophomore midfielder Bobby Dodd is back after playing the 2009 season for the Lakers, as is defender Wes Manyak from 2007. And goalkeeper Matt Sutton returns to finish out his Clayton State career.
Clayton State opens the season on Sept. 2, playing host to Anderson in the Laker Shootout at Laker Field.