VCU Men’s Soccer is preparing for the Fall as Head Coach Dave Giffard brings in a nine-player recruiting class for the Black & Gold. The Rams have had success after reaching the Atlantic 10 Championship for the second consecutive year; VCU has yet to hoist the A-10 title in victory but has made it to the finals in three of the last five seasons.
The Rams lost nine players as last season came to a conclusion. Out of those nine, Dakota Barnathan and Jorge Herranz stood out after their impressive senior season that helped VCU get to the A-10 Championship Final. Coach Giffard was able to get 4 local players from Virginia along with 4 international players and one from New York.
The New Guys
Brandon Bonilla (6’1” & 165 lbs, Midfielder)
Location: San Jose, Costa Rica
-Competed with Belen Reserves
-Has unique qualities at his disposal from midfield
-Can strike from long distances towards goal
-A good fit for VCU’s system that can play multiple positions
Ulrik Edvardsen (6’3” & 175 lbs, Center Back)
Location: Bergen, Norway
-Competed with SK Brann
-Member of Norwegian U-18 National Team
-Captain of SK Brann U-19 first team and reserve team
-Good physical defender
-Size, Skill and Leadership at his position
-Plenty of match experience at his age
Bruk Fekade (5’11” & 150 lbs, Midfielder)
Location: Loudon, VA
-Competed with Loudon Soccer Club
-Captain of Loudon Soccer Club who was the 2016 National Runners-Up
-A defensive midfielder with technical skill
-Able to cover a lot of ground fairly quickly
Jared Greene (6’2” & 155 lbs, Forward)
Location: Virginia Beach, VA
-Competed with Beach FC and attended Kellam High School
-Greene earned All-Conference, All-Region and All-State Honors while at Kellam High School
-Coach Giff states that Greene “has the potential to be one of the best strikers in the college game”
-There is work that Greene must accomplish to get to that level
Jared Mazzola (6’1” & 175 lbs, Goalkeeper)
Location: Katonah, NY
-Competed with FC Westchester and attended Somers High School
-Good on his feet, reflexes are good along with his dives
-High drive in training and willing to learn
Andy Mensah (5’9“ & 170 lbs, Forward)
Location: Springfield, VA
-Competed with SYC Strikers and attended Lee High School
-Scored 28 goals in 2016 for SYC Strikers
-Physical & Strong Forward
-Vocal Leader from the top of the box
-Can improve at the college level, very willing to work
Peter Pearson (5’7” & 155 lbs, Midfielder)
Location: Virginia Beach, VA
-University of Virginia Transfer
-A High-Value target on the transfer market
-3 Year letter winner for the Cavaliers
-Pearson competes at high levels on and off the field
-Plenty of college soccer experience
Oquin Robinson (6’2” & 185 lbs, Midfielder)
Location: Bull Bay, Jamaica
-Competed with Harbor View and attended Jamaica College
-Won the U17 Championship with Harbor View
-Was a U20 Semifinalist with Harbor View as a Captain
-Won numerous cups with Jamaica College
-Likes having the ball and dictating the rhythm of the game
-Can play from anywhere in central midfield
Zeron Sewell (6’2” & 195 lbs, Center Back)
Location: Morant Bay, Jamaica
-Joined the Rams in January 2017 & is eligible to compete in Fall 2017
-Years of playing experience at Jamaica College
-Hungry defender that gets better through training
-Has the potential to be really good in VCU’s backline
Returning Some Firepower
With all the potential coming VCU’s way, the Rams return players at key positions to set VCU up for future success. The Luc Fatton show is all set for another season as Fatton made a big splash last season with 7 goals; 2 of those were game-winners.
Rafael Andrade Santos adds some more firepower offensively for the Rams. Santos’s stat line dipped a little bit as the junior finished with 3 goals and 2 assists while collecting 18 starts. Now in his senior year, Santos can be the spark in VCU’s offense whether he is scoring goals or dishing assists.
Speaking of assists, Eli Lockaby returns to the midfield with his bag of passes and futbol footwork. Lockaby brings the experience to a rather youthful VCU midfield and can help this incoming recruiting class run smoothly on MatchDay.
Pierre Gardan returns in between the posts as VCU’s star goalkeeper. Gardan started all 21 matches in goal and made 64 saves while collecting 6 shutouts last season. The goalkeeper out of France also collected a handful of A-10 honors and kept a 1.35 Goals against Average for the year.
Work In The Spring, Compete In The Fall
Preparation for the Fall is already in motion for VCU Men’s Soccer. The Rams have already had a competitive pre-season schedule including a 2-1 victory over the Richmond Kickers back in March.
New faces are on the pitch but it’s the same VCU Men’s Soccer as the Rams look to get over that next hurdle: Winning a Conference Championship. VCU is more than capable of getting to the Finals however it’s been a task hoisting up that trophy after 90 minutes of play.
Could this be the year? VCU Futbol fans sure hope so. More work to be done before opening kick-off in August.