Claudio Ramondino signs with Medaille College (NCAA D3)

Dynamic winger Claudio Ramondino signs with Medaille College (NCAA D3)

Dynamic winger Claudio Ramondino signs with Medaille College (NCAA D3)

 

Congratulations to Upper 90 College APAC client Claudio Ramondino on his commitment to Medaille Mens Soccer (Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference, NCAA D3, Buffalo New York)! Claudio is a talented and versatile predominant left winger who can play across the midfield with both feet. Claudio is looking at studying an academic track aligned with Business at Medaille College. Claudio was also accepted into the Medaille Honours program for his academic efforts!

Claudio will develop his skills under new Head Coach Micky Blythe. Micky hails from the UK and represented Hull City AFC, over 8 years of coaching experience at the NPSL, NCAA DII, NJCAA DI, and Hull City AFC premier soccer level in England, Micky will be transitioning Medaille into a successful NCAA D3 men's soccer program over the coming years to be sure. 

I'm sure that Mum Daniela, Dad Dominic, your brother Alessandro and the rest of your family and friends are excited for you as much as Bradley Walker, Leon Kita and myself. You're a great guy, humble, hard working and proved you deserved this opportunity via your dedication to your studies.

Daniel McBriarty Signs With Joplin Demize (NPSL)

Congratulations to Upper 90 College APAC recruit Daniel McBriarty (pictured, No.11) of Midland University Men's Soccer (NAIA) for signing with Joplin Demize SC of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL). Another proud moment for Bradley Walker who recruited Daniel, Leon Kita who worked with Daniel at our training sessions here in Sydney and myself. Proud of you Daniel, you've had a standout season as a Freshman with Midland last year, and I know you will be just as impressive with the Demize this season in the NPSL!

Daniel Linstead Signs With Lansing United (NPSL)

Upper 90 College APAC recruit Daniel Linstead playing for Hastings College (Nebraska, NAIA). 

Upper 90 College APAC recruit Daniel Linstead playing for Hastings College (Nebraska, NAIA). 

Congratulations to Upper 90 College SPAC recruit Daniel Linstead of Hastings College Men's Soccer on signing with Lansing United of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) for this coming Spring! The NPSL is a great avenue for our male student athletes to play in a very competitive and professional set up among some of the best college soccer players in the US. Proud of you as always Daniel! Keep up the hard work!

Cantrill & DeAngelis Make TopDrawerSoccer.com 'To Watch List' for 2016!

Caitlin Cantrill (LSU) In Action! 

Caitlin Cantrill (LSU) In Action! 

Very proud to see Upper 90 Colleeg APAC recruits Caitlin Cantrill of LSU Soccer and Julia De Angelis of Indiana Women's Soccer on being announced as two of the 'Ten International Signings To Watch in 2016' by leading US collegiate soccer resource TopDrawerSoccer.com! Excellent news Caity and Julia! Keep up the hard work! Great to see other talented Aussie women recruits gaining mention too!

Eric Birighitti Commits To Hastings College (NAIA)

Eric Birighitti signs with Hastings College Nebraska (NAIA)

Eric Birighitti signs with Hastings College Nebraska (NAIA)

Very proud to announce the signing of Upper 90 APAC client Eric Birighitti to perennial NAIA powerhouse Hastings College Men's Soccer, Nebraska (ranked 25th nationally in the 2015 post season NAIA poll). Eric is a very dynamic, predominant Right Wing Back, who can play Right Back and Left Back, as he can play both feet with solid technical ability. Eric attended Aquinas College in Western Australia, and is looking to study an academic track closely aligned to Geography| Humanities (Urban Planning). Eric will be joining our recruit, Sophomore Daniel Linstead at the Bronco's this coming August season. 

Special mention to Coach Chris Kranjc on his work in getting Eric over to Hasting's. Coach Kranjc had mentioned in his assessment of Eric in our recruiting cycle that this is a player with 'All-American potential'. This is no small comment from a coach who over the years developed players like Derek Prinz, the 2011 National Player of the Year; eight First Team All-Americans; eight Second Team All-Americans; six Third Team All-Americans; 20 GPAC Player of the Year recipients; three Second Team CoSIDA All-Americans; and 41 NAIA Scholar-Athletes. 

We are very excited to see how well Eric fares with his development under the new leadership at Hastings.  Wishing Eric all the very best in this exciting new pathway in gaining his degree and playing at an elite collegiate level, along with Coach Kranjc who will be joining the University of Alabama at Huntsville (NCAA D2). I'm sure that Dad, Paul, Mum Sia, Eric's siblings and certainly his cousin A-League goalkeeper Mark Birighitti will be very proud of him, as Bradley Walker and I certainly are. Good luck Eric! 

Inside View: California State University Northridge Men's Soccer (NCAA D1)

Entrance to Matador Soccer Field, home to CSUN Men's Soccer (NCAA D1)

Entrance to Matador Soccer Field, home to CSUN Men's Soccer (NCAA D1)

This month, Upper 90 College APAC gained insight into Cal State University Northridge men's soccer program (NCAA D1). Playing in the Big West conference, 'The Matadors' compete in a tough conference, playing among some of the most successful men's collegiate soccer programs in California.  The Matador's posted an 8-8-3 season,  with several players earning All Big-West  Academic Honors, and Trevor Morley, a senior defender being drafted by Portland Timbers in the 2016 MLS Super Draft. 

Our recruit Jackson Mayer (CFWD, Sydney, Australia) has begun his journey into D1 soccer in January 2016, and his family had experienced the orientation process at CSUN. From the professional facilities, staff and academics, to 'El-Matador Beach' at the door step, their are exciting times ahead for Jackson as he develops under the guidance of Terry Davila and staff at CSUN. Here is an overview from Jackson's parents as to what they experienced during the orientation period for Jackson in January 2016: 

'Before seeing it for ourselves I don’t think any of us understood the level of professionalism that is part of the Student Athlete program at CSUN. Our eyes were certainly opened on the orientation tour. We were introduced to everyone from the Director of Athletics, the head coach and assistant coaches through to all the physical training, health and well-being support and then onto the Academic support. Everyone was super keen to work with and help Jackson be the best student athlete he can be.

After the initial physical examination came the baseline physical testing for strength and agility. This was followed by a trip in the BodPod which measures Thoracic Gas Volume and Fat Mass and finally a very comprehensive concussion testing all of which Jack found very interesting. The facilities to train and recover are fantastic- they even have an anti-gravity recovery machine, but I hope Jack doesn’t need this one, Alter-G.

The first week has been very busy, Jack is doing all sorts of training from weights to agility and ball work 5 days a week 8:30 to 12:30 and then has class in the afternoons and/or evenings. When he doesn’t have class on Fridays he’s involved in a community support program where this week they built the goals for the local high school. They keep him so busy he hardly has time to scratch, and on Saturday they had forwards training, just in case they hadn’t had enough football.

He’s loving it, and looking forward to his first game which is against the LA Galaxy II team. It’s a fantastic opportunity to work on both his game and his education all in the Californian sun.'

Upper 90 College APAC are very excited for Jackson and family as he transitions into the CSUN Men's Soccer  Program! 

Interview: Mark McKeever - Young Harris College (NCAA D2)

Coach Mark McKeever of Young Harris College (NCAA D2)

Coach Mark McKeever of Young Harris College (NCAA D2)

Upper 90 College APAC was very fortunate to catch up with Coach Mark McKeever of NCAA D2 men's soccer powerhouse Young Harris College in North Georgia. The Mountain Lions went 19-1-1. Young Harris, which won 19 matches in a row, captured its second consecutive Peach Belt Conference title and its first-ever PBC Tournament title in 2014. The Mountain Lions, who finished the season ranked No. 5 in the nation, earned their first-ever trip to the NCAA Division II Tournament. YHC advanced to the quarterfinals, losing to eventually champion Lynn University.

McKeever, who has guided the Mountain Lions to a 128-50-10 record (.707) in the Enchanted Valley, was recognized as the NSCAA Senior College Division II Southeast Region Coach of the Year while Ilija Ilic was named the NSCAA NCAA Division II National Men's Soccer Player of the Year and the NSCAA Men's Soccer Scholar Athlete of the Year. In addition to Ilic, three other Mountain Lions were named All-Americans and four were named to the NSCAA Division II Southeast Region team. Ilic and Lewis Hilton were also named to the NSCAA College Division Scholar All-America team while Ilic was named to the Capital One Division II Academic All-America® Men's Soccer first team. It is the third consecutive year that the Mountain Lions have had a player be recognized as an Academic All-American.

In the past year, four players - Ilic, Niall McCabe, Khurram Shazad and Samuel Mansour - have gone on to play professional soccer.


U90: Last year saw a strong performance both on the pitch and academically with All Americans, players being signed by professional franchises in the USL and a final NSCAA D-II National  Ranking at number 10. What do you believe were the key ingredients in your performance? 


MM: What do you need to work on in 2016? I think the style of football we play is unique to DII and I feel we execute it better than any other team in the division.  I feel we had a lot of young talent last year that will be stronger physically and more mature mentally to handle the later stages of  NCAA tournament.  This combined with a really strong recruiting class should keep us at the top end of college soccer in the country. 


U90: Young Harris has had a strong history of developing players athletically, technically and tactically to go onto the professional ranks. What key training approaches and methodologies do you bring to the Young Harris program, that you feel will transition the team to become even more competitive in the coming season and beyond?  


MM: The 3 aspects of football we focus on to develop the player and the team are 1.  Awareness 2.  Choices and 3. Speed of play.  I feel these 3 factors are essential in allowing each player and the team to reach their potential.  The standard of players we are bringing through the program keeps it moving forward.  Now we are recruiting players from the top youth clubs in the world.  The types of players that are interested in YHC are lads who may have just missed out on that pro contract and know that if they spend time and apply themselves correctly that we can move them forward and allow them to develop
into the professional game.


U90: Given you recruit players from international markets, how do you feel that the US college soccer environment develops a player for life after college from an academic and professional playing perspective?  


MM: Having turned 6 players into the professional game in the last year we have gained a reputation that will put us in the spotlight with coaches at the next level, so if the players are good enough they will get the recognition they deserve.  Furthermore, out priority for each players at Young Harris is to push them to reach their potential as a student, as a footballer and also as a person.  We focus on doing the small things at the very highest level, this allows for a great base to be built in the student’s life.  At the point where they build a solid base here at YHC, sky is the limit when they proceed into the professional world.


U90: Young Harris had a great year in the classroom in 2015, with many players receiving All- American Honours. How do you help your players balance playing with their study. What pathways do programs like help student athletes continue a professional career post their collegiate playing career? 


MM: We have had academic all Americans every year since becoming a DII school 4 years ago.  Last year we boasted Student athlete of the year in the whole country in all college divisions.  Many of our players are venturing into masters programs after college, or to start their own business, if they decide not to follow the path of professional football.  I think the biggest factor in success as a student athlete is finding the “balance” and in order to do this we emphasize the importance of it prior to the student’s arrival on campus.  The “balance” may be the biggest factor in students succeeding or failing and we try to constantly reinforce this by presenting the “professional lifestyle” to our students.  We have many paths for academic support at YHC and this is one of the main reason we had the highest GPA in the conference last year.


U90: Young Harris have another big season ahead for 2016, what are your goals for the team, and how will you be preparing them for the best possible shot of consistency in the PBC, and the NCAA tournament?  


MM: The goal is always to reach our potential as individuals and as a team. The common goal for players in this program is to win a national title and always will be.  The preparation in ongoing year round.  In the spring we are developing the players physically as well as helping them mature into their new roles.  As each year passes more responsibility is placed on their shoulders.  Having several great players graduate, this creates a path for other players to step into this leadership role and move the team forward.  I think that this recruiting class will be as strong as any recruiting class in the country so my expectations for the fall are very high!
 

Connor Wilkinson Commits To Mercyhurst University (NCAA D2)

Congratulations to Upper 90 College APAC client Connor Wilkinson on his commitment to Mercyhurst University Men's Soccer (NCAA D2, Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference)! Connor was selected for the Central Coast Soccer representative program at age 11 and has played at this level every year since. He has primarily played in Midfield and for the past 2 seasons forCentral Coast Mariners Youth and Central Coast Lightning Men’s First Grade where he has been playing at Right Back and Centre Midfield.

Connor will be joining Upper 90 College APAC recruit Michael Blancato at Mercyhurst under the guidance of 2nd year Head Coach Nenad Vidakovic, a former Yugoslavian National Team player, his experience includes playing in the European Cup and Olympic game qualifiers.Along with his experience on the Yugoslavian National Team, Vidakovic also enjoyed a 15-year professional career in the former Yugoslavia, Turkey, France and Cyprus. He has 24 seasons of coaching experience at the club, high school, collegiate, and professional levels and currently holds the NSCAA National Coaching Certificate.

The 'Lakers' went 9-8-1 in 2015, and Connor has been brought in by the coaching staff with the view to make a big impact in his Freshman year come this August. Very thankful for our Recruiting Director Bradley Walker, the team and I to have worked with such a great family and I know Lisa and Dean (Mum and Dad), brothers Lachlan & Cameron (who currently plays for Goldey Beacom, NCAA D2), your family and friends are all very excited for you on this journey into college soccer in the US!

Julia De Angelis Commits To Indiana University (NCAA D1)

Upper 90 Apac recruit Julia De Angelis In action for Canberra United (W-League)

Upper 90 Apac recruit Julia De Angelis In action for Canberra United (W-League)

Congratulations to Upper 90 College APAC recruit Julia De Angelis on her commitment to a full athletic scholarship at Indiana Women's Soccer (NCAA D1, Big Ten Conference) for 2016! Julia is an exceptionally talented young Midfielder who has represented the Australian U20 Women's National Team, participating in the Asian Cup Qualifier in the Philippines with the Australian U17 Women's National Team including tours to South Korea.

An integral member of Canberra United FC in the Westfield W-League, Julia has received several awards over the years including:

- 2014 & 2015 Canberra United W-League Rising Star Award
- 2014 Westfield W-League Championship
- 2014 The Women's Game - Newcomer of the Season
- 2014 ACT Women's Premier League All Stars Team
...to name a few.

Julia will be joining Indiana Women's Soccer under the guidance of Coaches Amy Berbary and Sergio Gonzalez who have taken Indiana Women's Soccer from strength to strength since taking over the reigns some 3 years prior. In her 4th year at the helm, Coach Berbary has recruited an impressive class for 2016 and we look toward some exciting progress for the team at Indiana.

Julia will be looking to study Psychology at Indiana University. My team and I are excited for Julia and am sure that Julia's Mum and Dad, Lino and Rose, her brothers Luca and Marco, all her friends and extended family, including her team mates at Canberra United are over the moon for her. Congrats Julia!

You can read about the announcement at the Indiana Women's Soccer by  clicking here

Interview: Nick Zimmerman - Columbus State University (NCAA D2)

Coach Nick Zimmerman in his playing days for the Wilmington Hammerheads

Coach Nick Zimmerman in his playing days for the Wilmington Hammerheads

In this exclusive interview, Upper 90 College APAC gained insight into the Columbus State University Women's Soccer program (NCAA D2) through the eyes of Assistant Coach Nick Zimmerman. 

Zimmerman comes to Columbus after wrapping up a seven-year professional playing career. He was selected by the New York Red Bulls in the third round of the MLS SuperDraft in 2009 after a stellar career at James Madison University. During his seven years, he played for the Red Bulls, Philadelphia Union, Carolina Railhawks FC of the North American Soccer League and most recently with the Wilmington Hammerheads of the United Soccer League. During the 2012 season, Zimmerman was named to the NASL Best XI after leading the Railhawks and finishing second in the league with 15 goals.

U90: Last year saw a strong performance both on the pitch (22-3-1 overall, with a loss in the final, to 3x Champions Grand Valley State University) and academically. What do you believe were the key ingredients in your performance? What do you need to work on in 2016? 

NZ: We have a lot of work to do this Spring and Summer in preparation for next Fall.  Every team in the country is working extremely hard to grow and get better, so every year it’s a very big challenge.  We have to focus on quicker problem solving, anticipating and reading the game, efficiency, and team depth. Going into this Spring, we will train to improve all these areas by focusing on each player’s technical and tactical development. For the first part of the Spring, we focus primarily on running, lifting, and technical growth.

As we get closer to the games, we will develop player tactics through training situations that are based on the upcoming opponent. Last season, we were extremely successful in combination play as well as one and two touches. Not only were our players technically prepared to pass, they completely understood the tactics behind the location, speed, and timing of every pass they played.  We tried to attack in numbers every chance we had.  Like everyone we enjoyed scoring goals.

U90: Columbus State University has always had a strong history of developing players athletically, technically and tactically. What key training approaches and methodologies do you bring to the CSU program, that you feel will transition the team to become even more competitive in the coming season and beyond?  

NZ: We try to learn and grow every day.  Control what we can control.  Our training approaches prepare our players for the toughest situations. We try and prepare them for every possible situation that they may face in the game.  Every training session that we design is different, challenging, and functional. The bar is set even higher for next Fall; every rostered player knows that we came up one game short. This alone will increase the competitive culture of the program and the work rate of each individual.  

U90: Given you recruit players from international markets, how do you feel that the US college soccer environment develops a player for life after college from an academic and professional playing perspective?  

Our goal for each of our players is that they are successful in life after soccer. We make sure that we equip them with all the tools they need in the classroom to achieve what they desire.  We pride ourselves on being close and we look after each of our players like family.  Being a student athlete you are presented with situations both on and off the field that can prepare you for what may lie ahead.  Leadership, teamwork, discipline are just a few qualities that student athletes must possess to be successful.  

U90: CSU had a great year in the classroom in 2015, with players receiving All - American Honors. How do you help your players balance playing with their study? What pathways do programs like CSU help student-athletes continue a professional career post their collegiate playing career? 

NZ: Here at CSU we have always prided ourselves in excelling in the classroom and this year is no different.  This team is no stranger to earning awards such as the NSCAA Team Academic Award.  Our athletes constantly strive for excellence which helps push each player to do more in the classroom. As the staff, we understand that academics comes first, and our goal is to create an environment where our student-athletes are successful in the classroom. We help them connect with tutors so that they can be surrounded by all the resources they need to focus on their studies.  

U90: CSU have another big season ahead for 2016, what are your goals for the team, and how will you be preparing them for the best possible shot of consistency in the PBC conference, and the NCAA tournament? 

NZ: Our goal is to win a National Championship. Period!   Our quest began as soon as the final whistle blew in the National Championship game.  As our players continue to lift and run this Spring they will be driven by one goal: a National Championship.  We will continue to develop our depth by growing every player.  During the summer, our girls will continue to work towards a National Championship by further preparing their bodies for the season. As soon as preseason starts, every session is high intensity and builds our team to be successful on the scoreboard.  

We play in a fantastic conference that is extremely competitive.  We know they are all working very hard and we look forward to competing next season.

Interview: Tony Martone - Merrimack College (NCAA D2)

Coach TOny MArtone Guides his players post play

Coach TOny MArtone Guides his players post play

Upper 90 College APAC were very fortunate to gain an exclusive insight into the inner workings of  Merrimack College's (NCAA D2), Men's Soccer Head Coach Tony Martone. One of the most successful coaches in not only Division II men's soccer coaching history, but in NCAA men's soccer history, Tony Martone concluded his 34th season at Merrimack College in the fall of 2015. 

Martone and the Warriors lived up to high expectations in 2015, winning 15 games for the second straight year as well as advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Warriors finished second in the Northeast-10 Conference, winning nine of 13 conference games. The Navy and Gold won at least one NCAA Tournament game for the third time in the last four years.

U90: Last year saw a strong performance both on the pitch, reaching postseason play and academically. What do you believe were the key ingredients in your performance? What do you need to work on in 2016?

TM: In order to be successful you need to have talent but talent alone does not guarantee success. We are a closely knit program and we pride ourselves in being a soccer family on and off the pitch. We all work hard to be the best we can be and always put the team first. Playing as a team helps us overcome any obstacles that come our way.

U90: Merrimack has had a strong history of developing players athletically, technically and tactically. What key training approaches and methodologies do you bring to the Merrimack program, that you feel will transition the team to become even more competitive in the coming season and beyond?  

TM: Although the college season is played in a fairly short window of time during the fall semester, we have developed a year round program to help our players develop in every aspect required to reach their full potential and beyond.

Specifically, there are three major components to what we do:

The regular season, the spring/off season program and a year round strength and conditioning program. The regular season starts at the beginning of July when the players will begin their summer fitness program that we send them. They usually report for pre season around August 15th and we have approximately 15-20 days to prepare for the start of the regular season.

Preseason is used to fine tune fitness but most importantly, to get the team technically, tactically and mentally ready to compete and to instill a winning mentality. The off season which is the spring semester, is primarily used to develop technique, to work with individuals to improve their weaknesses, to work in small groups as well as on team tactics.

The strength and conditioning program is a year round program but the amount of work and the type of work varies, depending on the time of year.

U90: Given you recruit players from international markets, how do you feel that the US college soccer environment develops a player for life after college from an academic and professional playing perspective?  

TM: In general, the college experience in the US is very unique in that international students will have the opportunity to earn a degree while also playing soccer at a very high level. Specifically relating to Merrimack College, we are an exceptional academic institution and the degree that is earned by our student/athletes is well recognized and highly respected throughout the world which inevitably will open doors in the future to our graduates in whichever field of study they concentrate on. Our student/athletes will also have the unique experience of being able to compete at the highest level of intercollegiate. Those who make the necessary progress and have the ability and the ambition to play professional soccer will also have plenty of opportunities that we can help develop, both here in the US as well as in different parts of the world.

U90: Merrimack had a great year in the classroom in 2015, with players receiving All- American Honours. How do you help your players balance playing with their study. What pathways do programs like help student athletes continue a professional career post their collegiate playing career?

TM: It all starts with my philosophy that academics always comes first and soccer is a very close second. Whether domestic or international, we focus on prospects who are good students and who value education and earning a degree very highly. We have a number of steps in place to regularly monitor and to make sure that our players are and remain in good academic standards. Should anyone run into some difficulties, we have a tremendous support system in place to help anyone that may need it. I am proud to say that in addition to the individual recognition that you refer to, we have been been recognized by the NSCAA and have received the “Team Academic Award” for the past nine consecutive years. As far as helping our student/athletes beyond the college years, we have a number of resources available for them,  including through our career center, through our alumni network as well as through my professional network

U90: Merrimack have another big season ahead for 2016, what are your goals for the team, and how will you be preparing them for the best possible shot of consistency in the NE-10 conference, and potentially the NCAA tournament?

TM: The process is pretty simple. We will continue to work hard at being the best we can be tactically, technically, physically and mentally, both individually and as a team. Over the years, we have established a model of consistency and excellence which we fully expect to continue. We have a good group of returning players and a very solid recruiting class which should once again give us the means to be extremely competitive and successful

 

Samantha Roff Commits To Fairleigh Dickinson University (NCAA D1)

Samantha Roff from Canberra, Australia who, after fielding interest from NCAA D1 colleges across the USA, has signed a full ride scholarship with Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) Women’s Soccer in Teaneck, New Jersey (NCAA D1, Northeast Conference). Samantha is an impactful and versatile Forward, and Right Back. From 2012 - 2015, Samantha was a scholarship player with the ACT Academy of Sport (the FFA’s U17 National Training Centre in Canberra), and this year has secured a 'train on' agreement with Canberra United (W-League, Australia). Samantha is a solid student who will be looking at completing a Business (Marketing) degree and will be joining FDU in Spring 2016.

FDU Women’s Soccer had a standout 2015 season with a 16-6 record under the guidance of second year coach Eric Teepe, reaching the first round of the NCAA D1 Tournament, with a narrow 1-0 loss to 3rd ranked (nationally) Rutgers University, a program record! In his first year, Coach Teepe also guided FDU to its first Northeast Conference Regular Season Title after posting a 6-1-1 conference record and advanced to the NEC Championship game.

Very excited for Samantha who will make a big impact at FDU. 

Alexandra Cook Commits To Columbus State University (NCAA D2)

Ali Cook committed to perennial NCAA D2 powerhouse Columbus State University Women's Soccer (CSU) in Georgia (Peach Belt Conference). Ali is a very strong CB|LB that can play equally proficiently in the CM role. Ali has represented her State, the ACT (Canberra) from a young age, holding a full scholarship for two years with ACTAS (the high performance unit of the ACT government), while representing the women's soccer program for 4 years. Currently Ali is playing for Canberra Olympic Football Club Men's U20 side, and is looking to study Nursing at CSU.

CSU women's soccer has had unparalleled success over the years both athletically and academically under the guidance of coach Jay Entlich who has taken the Lady Cougars to 10 NCAA D2 National Tournament appearances. In 2015, under the additional guidance of first year assistant coach and former MLS and NASL stand out Nick Zimmerman (who recruited Ali specifically for the program), the Lady Cougars finished the season with a 22-3-1 record, ending National NCAA D2 runner up with a loss to women's soccer powerhouse Grand Valley State University in the NCAA D2 National Championship game.

This year 3 Lady Cougars were named NSCAA Scholar All-Americans, and we are hoping that with a lot of hard work over the coming 4 years, Ali will be right in the mix! 

Jackson Mayer Commits With Cal State - Northridge NCAA D1

Upper 90 College APAC client Jackson Mayerfrom Sydney, Australia (ex- Sydney Grammar School) on being offered a full ride scholarship to play with CSUN Men's Soccer at California State University, Northridge (NCAA D1, Big West Conference). Jackson is a very powerful forward at 6'2" and 85kgs, with the ability to play both feet, he is a dangerous and clinical striker. In fact, with his club Hakoah Sydney City East FC (NSW Premier League 1) this past season Jackson scored 31 goals in 24 games, and appeared for the first team on 3 occasions. Jackson is looking to study Science with a major in Biology|Chemistry.

The Matadors, currently ranked 67th in the national NCAA D1 RPI, under the guidance of 17th year Head Coach Terry Davila have been crowned Big West Champions 3 Times, reaching post season play on a number of occasions throughout Coach Davila's tenure. Under Coach's guidance, he has helped to develop some outstanding players that have gone to play in Major League Soccer (MLS) including Sean Franklin, Rafael Garcia, Daniel Paladini, Joe Barton, Benjamin Benditson, Willie Sims, Chad Borak and Joe Franco. In the 2015 MLS Superdraft, the Matadors set a new program record by having two players (Sagi Lev-Ari and Edwin Rivas) selected in the same class, with Lev-Ari signing with Columbus Crew and Rivas signing with Toronto FC.

Jackson will be in the mix with some phenomenally talented student-athlete's from all around the world, and we are expecting to hear some big things over the years from Jackson athletically and academically. I know Tania, Karl, your sister, family and friends (including your legendary former pro footballer Grand Dad ;)) are over the moon for you. Bradley Walker, myself and the rest of the team wish you all the very best success!

 

Inside View: Louisiana State University Women's Soccer (NCAA D1)


This month Upper 90 College Asia Pacific was privileged to gain an inside view from one of our elite clients, into one of the largest self funded college athletic departments in the USA, Louisiana State University (NCAA D1). Our recruit Caitlin Cantrill from Canberra, Australia (Australian U17 Woman's National Team | ACTAS) committed to Louisiana State University (NCAA D1) mid 2015. Caitlin, who is a very talented attacker (No.7 or No.10), joined one of the largest college sports programs in the USA. LSU teams play in the highly regarded and competitive Southeastern Conference (SEC). Caitlin will be developing her game in 2016 and beyond against some of the very best NCAA D1 woman's soccer programs in the USA including Texas A&M, University of Kentucky, University of Florida to name a few. 

LSU had a stand out season in 2015, currently ranked 40th in the National Women's NCAA D1 RPI, with a 13-6-4 record, while reaching the first round of the  NCAA D1 Women's National Tournament bowing out to South Alabama. Cymantha Cantrill and husband Mark had very proudly attended the LSU orientation process in January 2016 alongside Caitlin, and provided this overview of her experience of the LSU women's soccer program, and the exciting journey ahead for Caitlin in one of the toughest athletic conferences in the USA women's college soccer system, the Southeastern Conference (SEC): 

"The LSU transition program for incoming student athletes has been highly supportive. LSU has a Director of Operations and she looks after everything. She organizes the kit, scholarship paperwork, travel arrangements, campus accommodation, medical school, rosters, schedules etc. They also liaise with everyone else in LSU. For example, they arranged someone to hep Caitlin register for classes and prepare her class schedule. They have arranged a time where the whole team go together to get to their books. This high level of administration has made everything run so smoothly for Caitlin.

The soccer program is first class. The girls live together, train together and are encouraged to form strong social connections. It really is like one big family. To start the Spring Semester there are 4 new girls - 2 new girls and 2 transfers. Caitlin was provided with the other Freshman's numbers and they have already become friends. We have dined out with their family and the girls have done orientation together. The girls went to an LSU basketball game together with some other student athletes. It feels like they have been there for a much longer time. LSU are very big on the "Tiger Family" (LSU's mascot is a live Tiger named Mike) and I feel this at every avenue. Someone is always there to help you. The Southern hospitality is so warm and friendly.

The facilities are first class. The training field and playing field are immaculate. There is an indoor field, so training is never disrupted. The strength and conditioning area is massive and the head strength and conditioning  coach is amazing. The girls do strength and conditioning in the same gym that the football team train in. The soccer center at the field contains the change room, physio center, media center, training room etc. these facilities are open to the girls 24/7 and girls are encouraged to visit there when they want some extra practice.

Caitlin was a bit nervous coming over. But since we arrived she is just so excited! The facilities are so easy to be impressed by. To be a LSU Tiger is a big deal here. To be a student athlete is bigger still. Caitlin is proudly wearing her gear and preparing to start training this week. Caitlin has made friends already and has been doing some activities with them which is great. It really is supportive, so there are so many people to help. Cailtin knows she picked the right place and feels really good. She is really excited to get started!"

Upper 90 College are very excited for Caitlin as she develop's herself academically and athletically under the watchful eye of Head Coach Brian Lee over the next 4 years. 







Interview: Oige Kennedy - Fort Lewis College (NCAA D2)

In this exclusive interview we talk to Oige Kennedy  Head Men's Soccer Coach for Fort Lewis College (NCAA D2) to get an insight into a highly competitive Division II soccer program, his coaching methodologies, how important academics are and how he recruits from international markets.  Fort Lewis is a nationally recognized program, who have won 3 NCAA D2 National Tournaments (2005, 2009 and 2011) with 9 league titles and 11 league cup titles. Many of the players who have come through the Fort Lewis College Soccer system top youth academies in Europe including Valencia CF (La Liga), FC Dijon and Stade Rennais in France and Nottingham Forest in England to name a few. MLS Drafts such as John Cunliffe and Fabian Kling (Chivas USA) came through the Fort Lewis College soccer system.  

U90: Last year saw a strong performance both on the pitch and academically in a very tough conference, the RMAC. Now 2015 has begun, and you are two points shy of making the NCAA D2, National Top 25 rankings. How have you prepared your team physically and mentally in pre-season for the year ahead?

OK: We have been working extremely hard with the guys since their return to Durango to be ready for what we knew would be an extraordinarily difficult mental and physical challenge in the 2015 fall season. Our conference is the most competitive in the nation with some tremendous soccer teams so we know how hard we must continue to work to have success this season. The players continue to come to training with a great attitude toward working hard and having an enthusiasm to get better with each session. I think this will be the defining factor for us this season in having success.

U90: What key training approaches and methodologies do you bring to the Skyhawks program, that you feel will transition the team to become even more competitive in the coming season and beyond? 

OK: Fort Lewis is a program that has a wonderful soccer tradition and history of winning trophies. The team has had unprecedented success in winning three national championship trophies, two runners up spots, nine league titles and thirteen conference tournament championships. However I feel strongly that what makes us a little different to some of our competitors is our commitment to play an exciting brand of football. We recruit the most technical players we can, with a burning desire to be winners so they can make the transition to our style of football quickly. Our teams are committed to retaining possession of the ball in all areas of the field and then working as hard as possible to win it back immediately when it’s given away. 

U90: Given you recruit players from international markets, how do you feel that the US college soccer environment develops a player for life after college from an academic and professional playing perspective? 

OK: I feel extremely lucky to get to work with these student athletes that are spending some of the best years of their lives playing the sport they love on a daily basis while also being allowed to gain a first class education. The US system really places a high value on education and sport working simultaneously together which is not always the case in other countries. Many of our international players would have spent their youth with some of the top academy’s in the world and when it came to making a decision on whether they should concentrate solely on football or continue with their education they were not provided for, which is not the case in the US system, here the balance is the right one. And what is really great is that once the players have attained their degree if they have an ambition to try and play professional soccer that is also catered for here. We have been lucky enough to have several players achieve a degree from Fort Lewis College and have then had the chance to go and play professional soccer.  

U90: How do you help your players balance playing with their study. What pathways do programs like Fort Lewis help student athletes continue a professional career post their collegiate playing career?

OK: The players education is paramount to us and we do all that we can to make sure that they are able to compete on the soccer field and not suffer in the classroom. The players have various study aids provided to them on campus which they can avail of to stay on top of their academic schedule. Our players all practice in the afternoon on a daily basis so they tend to be done with classes by the end of the morning giving them time to get homework and study complete before coming to train hard on the practice field. Our student athletes also have a lot of travel to do when representing the school so they will spend time on road trips doing homework as not to fall behind the rest of their classmates. One of the major advantages to us is the fact that we operate with small class numbers so our students are allowed to build very strong personal relationships with their professors who have a real appreciation for the time commitment our players make in playing for the school.

U90: Fort Lewis have another big season ahead for 2015, what are your goals for the team, and how will you be preparing them for the best possible shot of consistency in the RMAC conference, and the potential to hit it out in the NCAA tournament?

OK: The goal for every Fort Lewis player will always be the same and that is to compete for silverware every season. Our player’s first goal will be to take care of business in a tough conference and retain this programs tenth RMAC conference championship. Once that goal is complete we will host the conference championship and another opportunity to win another trophy. Achieving both of these goals should allow us to have the ultimate opportunity to compete in the NCAA tournament. In my time here we have been fortunate enough to do this twice and to finish the season as the best soccer team in the nation which is a tremendous accolade for any soccer player to experience. Our goals will always remain the same here and I think that is one of the many contributing factors to making Fort Lewis College one of the best four year soccer experiences in the NCAA.

 

Interview: Dale White - Mercyhurst University (NCAA D2)

Recently we interviewed Dale White, Head Men's Soccer Coach for Mercyhurst University (NCAA D2) to get an insight into a highly competitive Division II soccer program, his coaching methodologies, how important academics are and how he recruits from international markets.  Mercyhurst compete in the PSAC conference where Coach White led the team to a title win in 2014. Currently, Mercyhurst are ranked 9th in the US among NCAA Division II teams. Over the years, Mercyhurst has consistently reached the National Tournament, in 2012 reaching the Final Four, and in 2013 reaching the final eight. The school and soccer program have also had a strong record of developing great student athletes with All- American honors. 

U90: Last year saw another strong performance both on the pitch and academically, with another run into the National Tournament, and a 9th rank placing nationally. How did you prepare the team throughout 2014 to compete so consistently? What do you need to work on in 2015?

DW: The ethos of the team is that everyday is an opportunity to be better than yesterday. In reality we are all human and go through seasons in our life, in our year/ season etc. Growth is measured in many different ways and during the tough times I believe student athletes often increase their capacity to succeed. We are preparing for the 2015 season in the same way as always. The goal is to finish number 1 in the Atlantic Region. The teams we play against are the ones who dictate the price we have to pay to attain that goal. Therefore each student-athlete has to work towards fulfilling their potential and trust that together we can attain the goal. 

U90: What key training approaches and methodologies do you bring to the Mercyhurst program, that you feel will transition the team to become even more competitive in the coming season and beyond?  

DW: The fitness culture on the team is very strong and mostly comes from the players themselves. Many of the student athletes are light years ahead of where myself and my peers were at their age as it has become so scientific. Therefore, most of our role as coaches is to implement tactically and gel together the team to get the dynamics right. Most of our success thus far has come from analyzing the gap between where we are and where we want to be. However, from this point on I believe we have to keep doing what we are doing to get us over the line and help us win a national title. Most of the things restricting us at the moment are external.

U90: Given you recruit players from international markets, how do you feel that the US college soccer environment develops a player for life after college from an academic and professional playing perspective?  

DW: I am a huge fan of the American academic system. Studies here are much more practical than the education system where I come from, Great Britain. From what I understand, most of the Commonwealth country’s education system is based on the British which appears to be much more theoretical than practical. As an example, if the students are studying business here, they will work with local businesses in a real live practical project.

There is a large emphasis put on communication with some lecturers offering credit for class participation. Coming from an environment in Great Britain where you are given your workload at the beginning and have to hand it all in at the end with little emphasis on attendance and participation, this was strange for me at first. However, I have since realized how much this helps prepare the students for the real world. How you contribute on a day to day basis is valuable to the corporate world and how well you can communicate your ideas has a huge influence on your success after college.   

U90: Mercyhurst had another great year in the classroom in 2014, with many player receiving All- American Honors. How do you help your players balance playing with their study. What pathways do programs like Mercyhurst help student athletes continue a professional career post their collegiate playing career?

DW: Success in University is determined by two main variables, your ability to prioritize and your time management skills. Many of the student athletes in a University such as Mercyhurst have a clear vision about what they want to do after University or at least a direction they want to work towards. In that respect we are blessed as it creates a great environment for the marginal student to grow in and it allows the better students to feed off each other and stay motivated. Mercyhurst has all the right mechanisms in place for the student athlete to grow and develop. There is a broad alumni base that can help students get to where they want to be once they leave Mercyhurst. 

U90: Mercyhurst have another big season ahead for 2015, what are your goals for the team, and how will you be preparing them for the best possible shot of consistency in the PSAC conference, and the NCAA tournament?

DW: Our first goal is to win the Atlantic Region which would put us into the last 8 in the nation. Within that goal we hope that we will retain the conference title. We will break down their preparation, so step one will be to be prepared for pre-season, in order to do that there will be a summer fitness package that goes out towards the end of June. Once the student athletes are here and we figure out the new players and how they will best fit we start with the tactical preparation. There will be three pre-season games this year that will let us work out the kinks and we start the season with two huge games against number 1 and number 3 in the region.

Interview: Chris Kranjc - Hastings College (NAIA)

Upper 90 College had the opportunity to interview Coach Chris Kranjc of Hastings College Nebraska (NAIA). Coach Kranjc has instilled a winning culture over many years that has seen the Broncos become one of the top soccer college programs in the USA, culminating with the school's first team National Championship in any men’s team sport in 2010. We get an insight into the 2014 season, and what is in store for the Hastings College Men's Soccer program for 2015. 

U90: Last year saw a strong performance both on the pitch and academically. What do you believe were the key ingredients in your performance? What do you need to work on in 2015? 

CK: Our chemistry really showed throughout the year. We had a few tough results but the team bounced back quickly which I believe is a result of our strong team chemistry. I also believe our team defending was exceptional all year as we did not give up many goals. Lastly, our ability to score goals at the right times allowed us to win a lot of tight games. This next year I think we still need to continue to develop our team identity, improve of defending effectiveness, and work to be more efficient in the final third.

U90: Hastings has always had a strong history of developing players athletically, technically and tactically. What key training approaches and methodologies do you bring to the Hastings program, that you feel will transition the team to become even more competitive in the coming season and beyond?  

CK:  It boils down to our philosophy.  I am a strong believer that the game is the best teacher, so we put conditions in games to bring about a topic. We do a lot with technical activities along with games geared towards areas of emphasis which are mostly directional in nature. We also have one of the best strength coaches in the country that helps our guys develop athletically.

U90: Given you recruit players from international markets, how do you feel that the US college soccer environment develops a player for life after college from an academic and professional playing perspective?  

CK:  Fantastic question. We have a had many successful stories of players coming from other countries who have gone to play professionally or find their way into a very successful profession. Looking at the academic side, not only do students focus in their major area but they also explore other areas in the general studies part of their overall course load. Many of these courses develop a students skill sets which make them prepared for their chosen career or graduate school. Many intangible skills are developed with students that are involved in athletics. Skills such as time management, team work, professionalism are developed. In terms of soccer, the college system develops player technically but tactically as well. Players are put into professional environments in terms of training and sport science.

U90: Hastings had a great year in the classroom in 2014, with many players receiving Scholar All- American Honors. How do you help your players balance playing with their study. What pathways do programs like help student athletes continue a professional career post their collegiate playing career? 

CK: Hastings has been strong academically for many years. In addition to our scholar all-Americans, we were awarded the team academic award the last 2 years. We make sure our players are able to attend classes during the day by scheduling training in late afternoon or evenings. And we also only miss 4 class days during the course of an 18 game schedule. We do have a learning center for our players to get help from as well as study halls.

U90: Hastings have another big season ahead for 2015, what are your goals for the team, and how will you be preparing them for the best possible shot of consistency in the GPAC conference, and potentially the NAIA tournament?

CK: Our goals always remain the same. We want to go as far as we can in the national tournament, win the conference, and have a winning record. We will be iworking hard in the weight room, getting ourselves cleaner technically, and developing our identity. We need to make sure our players understand their roles and develop them inot the roles from both a technical and tactical perspective.

Interview: Bob Reasso - Pfieffer University (NCAA D2)

Upper 90 were fortunate to gain insight from Head Men's soccer coach Bob Reasso. Bob had an amazingly tenured career as the coach of Rutgers University (NCAA D1) over 29 years, having produced over 50 collegiate players that had gone onto professional playing careers in the USA and abroad. We caught up with Bob prior to the season start with Pfieffer University. He has returned to his alumni school, Pfieffer University in North Carolina (NCAA D2), and has re-invigorated the program, with a conference title, and dip into the tournament for 2014. We gained his insight into many thing collegiate soccer related. 

U90: Last year saw a stronger performance from previous years with the Pfieffer Men’s Soccer Program (10-8-2). What do you believe were the key ingredients for the turnaround in performance?  

BR: The team I inherited had only won one game the year before and eight in the three previous years.  Obviously confidence and belief was a problem, they didn’t believe they could win.  It was complicated by the fact I was only able to bring in two players because I arrived in May.  Having tried a couple systems early on we decided to simplify everything and play a 4-4-2 and press our opponents.  It’s the easiest system for players to understand.  We also trained a lot using tactical patterns, which imprinted our style of play and increased everyone’s fitness.  

U90: During your 29 year tenure at Rutgers University (NCAA D1), you developed stand out players like Alexi Lalas and Peter Vermes (both US Men’s National Team players), including some 50 players that went onto professional careers. What key training approaches and methodologies are you bringing to Pfieffer, that you feel will transition the team to become more competitive in the coming season and beyond, and help your player’s transition potentially into professional play?  

BR: Every season and player is different, but you can draw from your experience.  I was able to make the decisions I made last year, because of everything I have encountered along the way in my career.  We train our players like pros.  I have been lucky to study at Barca, Milan, Chelsea, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Juve and many more clubs.  I have watched and been able to interact with many high level managers around the world.  Coaching is a lot about stealing ideas and then implementing them into your training.  

U90: Many young players look toward professional pathways in Europe and other regions, sometimes foregoing their education for a shot at “the big time” in a foreign league. Given you recruit players from international markets, how do you feel that the US college soccer environment develops a player for life after college from an academic and professional playing perspective?

BR: A college education is an insurance policy.  If you get hurt you have your education to fall back on.  The college game is very intense, both physically and mentally because you quite often play three games a week and a few losses can really hurt your team’s chances. This builds a very mentally resilient player.  

U90: Oftentimes when we interact with potential recruits, they ask about the quality and competitiveness of the divisions, and naturally assume that D2 or D3 schools are not as competitive (i.e. the top tier teams) as opposed to their D1 counterparts. Given your time within top flight D1 schools such as Rutgers, do you feel that the big D2 and D3 schools can compete convincingly across divisions? Do you feel that Pfieffer as an athletic program overall has a shot at transitioning into a D1 program down the line?

BR: First I don’t see us moving to D I it doesn’t fit our University.  I have spent most of my career in D I, but I have also worked in DIII and of course D II.  The top D I teams are very good, but the rule restrictions in D I make building and keeping teams tough.  D II’s rules are a little more relaxed especially for foreign players.  In D II there are more foreign players and you will find some older players, so the top D II teams can easily compete with D I teams.  

U90: Pfieffer University have another big season ahead for 2014, what are your goals for the team, and how will you be preparing them for the best possible shot of consistency in the Conference Carolinas?

BR: This year will be interesting because none of our opponents will take us lightly.   We are still building our program, so it will probably take us one more year of recruiting to have a deep enough team to compete on the level we want to.  We have a good nucleus back from last year and have added about 7 very good players, most of them would have played for me at Rutgers and a number would have started as freshman.  Our schedule is also tougher, so we  will have to see, but we are excited to get started.

Daniel Linstead Signs With Hastings College (NAIA)

Congratulations to Daniel Linstead (including Dad, Mark and Yvonne) for signing his letter of intent with perennial nationally ranked NAIA team Hastings College (Nebraska). Daniel had a tough choice with several colleges across divisions looking to sign him onto their program's for 2015 across the NCAA and NAIA. Hastings is an excellent liberal arts university, and has won the national championships in 2010, and runner up in 2011. Congratulations Daniel, looking forward to many big things ahead!