PHILADELPHIA – Penn will add four players to its men’s soccer team for 2013, James C. Gentle Head Coach of Men’s Soccer Rudy Fuller announced this week. The Quakers will be adding two midfielders and two forward to the lineup this September, giving the Red and Blue 26 players all joined together in the pursuit of an Ivy League championship.
"We are thrilled to have these four young men join our program this fall,” Fuller said. “Above all else, this is a character class. Each of these young men is a winner and has been well-coached over the years with their respective clubs. My assistant, Rob Irvine, has worked tirelessly over this past year and continues to prove that he is one of the best recruiters in the country. All four of these student-athletes are passionate about the tradition of Penn Soccer and are eager to add their own chapter to our program's storied history. They will be a tremendous addition to our returning group, which is coming off a very successful spring campaign."
Penn will draw from all over the country in the Class of 2017, with the four players hailing from Pennsylvania, Texas, California and Washington. All have excelled on the club level with Development Academy programs.
Dallas, Texas native Sam Hayward is a forward with great instincts and awareness with his runs through opposing backlines. Playing for Solar Chelsea SC in Texas, Hayward leads the club with 12 goals this season.
Alex Neumann will make the shortest trek to University City to begin his collegiate career, coming in from New Hope, Pa. A standout for PDA Academy and former star at Council Rock North High School, Neumann currently ranks 9th in the country in goals scored at the U18 level with 16 from his forward position. Neumann’s older brother, Steve, is an All-American for 2012 national runner-up Georgetown – a team Penn will again play this September in the Ivy League/BIG EAST Challenge.
For the second year in a row, a Bay Area native will set up shop in Philadelphia as Travis Pillon joins former club teammate Sam Engs at Penn. Pillon, a midfielder who has spent time with the United States U14, U15 and U17 National Teams, has also trained with the MLS’ San Jose Earthqukaes, including a stint with the ‘Quakes in England this February where he saw time in two matches.
Matt Poplawski will come to Philly from Washington where he was a two-sport standout in high school. On the soccer field, Poplawski led Crossfire Premier to the 2012 Academy Playoffs and reached the 2010 US Youth Soccer National title game. On the basketball court, he won a division and district championship while reaching the state semifinals.
Penn Men’s Soccer Class of 2017
Sam Hayward, F, Dallas, Texas/Highland Park
High School: Played club soccer for Solar under the direction of coach Kevin Smith … Served as team captain … 2011 District and Area champion … Named 2011 Newcomer of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year … Student Council representative.
Personal: Son of Esther and Frank Hayward … Enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences as an economics major.
Coach Fuller on Hayward: "We have been tracking Sam for the past few years and have always admired his goal-scoring ability. He has been a stalwart for his very successful Solar Academy team and is in the midst of another stellar campaign for them. He makes very intelligent runs through the backline and is always lurking in the defender's blind spot. He takes his chances well and is equally adept at setting his teammates up in and around the penalty area. Above all else, he has a unquenchable thirst for the game and is always watching games to try and pick up little things to add to his arsenal. I expect that he will continue to develop in our program and work hard to have the same impact at Penn that he has had with his Solar team."
Alec Neumann, F, New Hope, Pa./Council Rock North
High School: Played club soccer for PDA under the direction of coach Sam Nellins … Three-year letterwinner and team captain at Council Rock North, playing just three seasons before moving on to club soccer full-time … Two-time Suburban One League champion (2010, 2011) … 2011 PIAA District finalist … 2011 PIAA state semifinalist … Three-time All-Suburban One league selection … First-team All-Suburban One in 2011 … Second-team All-Suburban One in 2010 … Honorable mention All-Suburban One in 2009 … Twice led team in scoring (2010-11) … Named Team MVP in 2011 … Distinguished Honor Roll all eight semesters … Twice named Student of the Month.
Personal: Son of Clare and Mark Neumann … Father played soccer at Lafayette … Older brother, Steve, plays soccer at Georgetown where he has earned All-American honors … Enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences as a Philosophy, Politics and Economics major.
Coach Fuller on Neumann: "Alec comes from tremendous soccer pedigree. His father starred at Lafayette College and remains the program's all-time leading scorer. His older brother is in the midst of a stellar career of his own at Georgetown University. With that in mind, Alec is well on his way to writing his own chapter in the family's soccer history. He has proven to be an exceptional player himself in his time with his PDA Development Academy club. After scoring 10 and 12 goals over the past two seasons at the U-16 level, he has continued his torrid pace with his top-ranked U-18 PDA squad this year by tallying 16 goals so far this season, which ranks him in the top ten nationally. He has very good feet for a player of his size and strength and is excellent at combining with others in the run of play. As good as he is finishing at his chances in and around the penalty area, his coaches at PDA rave about his overall approach to the game and leadership ability. Those qualities that attracted us to him from the start and we think will serve him well in the years ahead in our program."
Travis Pillon, M, Oakland, Calif./Head-Royce School
High School: Played club soccer for DeAnza under the direction of coach Eric Yamamoto … Full-time club player who played at the U18 level for the past five seasons … Traveled with San Jose Earthquakes first team to England in February as part of a training trip with the Tottenham Hotspur U18/Reserve team … Played in two professional matches against Colchester United and Leicester City FC … Played in multiple reserve matches with Earthquakes … Honorable Mention Starting XI for DeAnza in Finals Week … Trained with the United States U14, U15 and U17 National Teams … Named to 2009 Winter Showcase and 2010 Spring Showcase Academy Select Teams.
Personal: Son of Marcia and Fred Pillon … Older brother, Cody, was captain at UC-Santa Cruz and is now an assistant coach with the Banana Slugs … Club teammate with current Penn player Sam Engs … Enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Coach Fuller on Pillon: "I have known Travis since our days together with the US U15 National Team. He is a tireless competitor and a very experienced player at the highest level. Following his time with the U15 National, he was invited into the US U17 National Team Residency Program and participated in pre-season with Major League Soccer's San Jose Earthquakes in 2012. He has the ability to play any number of positions on the field, but we see him as someone who has the ability to make an immediate impact on the flank. He has a tremendous engine and provides excellent service from wide areas. His athleticism, pace, and work rate are all first class. I expect that he will become a very influential player for us over the next few years and will certainly make a positive impact on our program."
Matt Poplawski, M, Bellevue, Wash./Lakeside School
High School: Played club full-time for Crossfire under the direction of Bernie James … Five-year captain for Crossfire … Reached Academy Playoffs in 2012 … 2010 US Youth Soccer regional champions, advancing to national title game … Lettered in basketball in high school, serving as team captain … 2013 Metro Mountain division champions … 2013 District champions … 2013 state finalists … Honorable mention All-Metro Mountain and second-team All-State Tournament in hoops … Also ran one season of track, competing in hurdles.
Personal: Son of Kim and Eddie Poplawski … Older brother, Danny, played baseball at Georgetown University from 2009-13 … High school classmate of Penn teammate Louis Schott … Enrolled in Wharton.
Coach Fuller on Poplawski: "Matt is a member of an endangered species - a stellar, multi-sport athlete. In today's world of specialization and year-round training, Matt is one of the few exceptions. He excels on the soccer field with his Crossfire Academy team, and he is a standout basketball player at the high school and AAU level. This past winter, he led his Lakeside School basketball team to the Washington Class 3A State Championship game after scoring 23 points in the state semifinals against a team that included a few players slated to play Pac-12 basketball next year. His leadership and competitiveness are second to none. He is a true two-way midfield player capable of scoring goals and holding down a midfield defensively. His team-first, unselfish attitude and competitive work ethic earn rave reviews from his coaches and teammates alike, and I expect the same will happen during his time at Penn."