PHILADELPHIA – Entering his 18th season at the helm of the Penn men’s soccer team, Rudy Fuller will welcome eight newcomers to the Quakers as part of the Class of 2019.
The Red and Blue will add four defenders and two goalkeepers to their club in addition to one forward and one midfielder.
”I am thrilled to announce the addition of the eight young men in our 2015 recruiting class,” said Fuller. “Each of these young men possesses a strong character, a winning mentality, and plethora of experience playing at the highest level. I am confident that they will represent our University, our Athletic Department, and our soccer program extremely well over the course of their careers at Penn. Most of all, I know that they are extremely proud and excited to wear the Red and Blue and eager to build upon the tradition of success and rich history of Penn Soccer. We have set extremely high goals for our program in the years ahead and I believe that these young men will all play a significant role in our program’s ability to compete for Ivy League titles and a national championship.”
Three members of the Class of 2019 – Gavin Barger, Nigel Blackwood and Etan Mabourakh – were invited to training camp with the U18 US Youth National Team this year, while another two – Gideon Metrikin and Erik Swenson – have spent time in U15 and U14 National Team camps earlier in their careers.
Metrikin leads three incoming Quakers ranked inside the IMG Academy Top 150 by TopDrawerSoccer.com, coming in at No. 68 among all players and No. 22 among midfielders. Also in the IMG Academy Top 150 are Mabourakh, who is No. 143 overall and No. 13 among goalkeepers, and Eremuse Momoh, who is ranked No. 116 overall and No. 26 among defenders.
According to CollegeSoccerNews.com, the Quakers will be welcoming four of their Top 150, led by No. 84 Erik Swenson. Joining the defender in CollegeSoccerNews.com’s Top 150 are Nigel Blackwood (No. 111), Metrikin (No. 113) and Momoh (No. 122).
Defender Gavin Barger was one of two Quakers invited to the Boys High School All-American Game this season, joined by fellow Baltimore Celtic player Momoh. Barger was named to the “Best XI” of the All-American Game by TopDrawerSoccer.com.
Jerel Blades is the lone true forward in the class, coming off a divisional championship for his club team, Red Bulls Academy, with fellow newcomer Metrikin.
A second goalkeeper in the class, Scott Forbes, has the most local connections for the Quakers as he played his high school soccer at Delbarton Prep and his club soccer with PDA. At Delbarton, Forbes set a New Jersey state record with 1,559 consecutive minutes of shutout soccer during portions of the 2013 and 2014 seasons – part of a three-year stretch of state championships at Delbarton. He also has been a part of a club national championship with PDA.
“I want to thank my current assistants, Pete Pososki and Mike Piranian, as well as former assistant Rob Irvine for their efforts in building this class,” said Fuller. “Their hard work, insight, and unwavering commitment to the high standards we have set for our program were instrumental in attracting such a talented class. I am very fortunate to be surrounded by such quality people.”
The Quakers are coming off a fifth place finish in the Ivy League in 2014 following an Ivy League championship and NCAA Tournament berth in 2013. The Red and Blue have won three Ivy League championships and reached four NCAA Tournaments during Rudy Fuller’s tenure in University City.
Gavin Barger | Defender
Fallston, Md./Loyola Blakefield (Baltimore Celtic)
Before Penn: Invited to the U18 US Youth National Team Training Camp … Selected to play in the High School All-American Game … Named to “Best XI” at the High School All-American Game by TopDrawerSoccer.com … Four-year letterwinner at Loyola Blakefield … Served as team captain … Won two Maryland state championships at Loyola Blakefield (2012, 2014) … Twice named first-team All-State (2013-14) … Named first-team all-conference three times (2012-14) … Twice named All-Metro (2013-14) … National Honor Society member … St. Ignatius Scholarship recipient … National Society of High School Scholars member.
Personal: Son of Kristin and Joseph Barger … Father played soccer at Loyola (MD) … Mother played lacrosse at Loyola (MD) … Cousin, Riley, played soccer at Maryland … Enrolled in Wharton … Club teammate of fellow Quaker, Muse Momoh.
Fuller on Barger: “Gavin is a winner, plain and simple. He established himself as a leader for his Baltimore Celtic club team and his Loyola high school team. He is a dynamic left-footed player that can play centrally or wide and is comfortable at both ends of the field. His recent experience with the U18 National Team was invaluable and will certainly serve him well going forward. I know Gavin is eager to get started with our team next fall and we expect that he will make a positive impact on our program from the start.”
Nigel Blackwood | Defender
Marietta, Ga./Wheeler (Georgia United)
Before Penn: Invited to U18 US Youth National Team Training Camp … Ranked No. 115 in Class of 2015 by CollegeSoccerNews.com … Played club soccer for Georgia United … Served as captain of U18 team … Twice advanced to Development Academy national playoffs (2013, 2014) … Selected to 2013 U.S. Soccer Development Academy Winter Showcase.
Personal: Son of Dianne and Dwight Blackwood … Enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Fuller on Blackwood: “Nigel is one of the top defenders in the country in the 2015 graduating class. It was no surprise that he was invited in with the U18 National Team recently. He does everything well. His athletic ability and leadership qualities are second to none. He is technically strong and passes confidently out of the back. He is outstanding in the air and has proven to be a goal scorer on attacking restarts for his Georgia United team. We are certainly pleased to add a player of Nigel’s caliber and I am confident he will prove to be an important part of our team’s success going forward.”
Jerel Blades | Forward
Brooklyn, N.Y./Elisabeth Irwin (Red Bulls Academy)
Before Penn: Played club soccer for NY Red Bulls … 2014 division champions … Recipient of Irwin Scholar Merit Honor … Peer Leader … Honor Board member … Student Diversity Leader.
Personal: Son of Gillian and Hayden Blades … Enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences. Club teammate of fellow Quaker, Gideon Metrikin.
Fuller on Blades: “Jerel is an electric, attacking player that is most comfortable playing out on the flanks. He is lightning quick and can positively impact a game in multiple ways. He has exceptional pace and loves running at defenders 1v1. He is very reminiscent of Duke Lacroix as a freshman, but is probably a bit further along technically. Duke obviously went on to become the Ivy Rookie of the Year as a freshman and then Ivy Player of the Year as a junior, and we think Jerel has the potential to do similarly well. He joins us from the highly successful NY Red Bulls Academy along with his current teammate Gideon Metrikin, both players have been an integral part of their success over the past few seasons. Jerel is excited to get started, and I am confident that he will be ready to contribute to our team right away.”
Scott Forbes | Goalkeeper
Chatham, N.J./Delbarton School (PDA)
Before Penn: Played club soccer for PDA … Claimed 2012 national championship with PDA … Lettered in soccer four seasons at Delbarton … Served as team captain … Member of three consecutive state championships at Delbarton (2012-14) … Two-time county champions (2013-14) … Three-time conference champions (2011-13) … Set a New Jersey state record for consecutive shutout minutes with 1,559 during portions of the 2013 and 2014 seasons … Named a Regional All-American in 2014 … Twice named All-State, All-County and All-Conference (2013-14) … National Merit Commended Scholar.
Personal: Son of Laura and Andrew Forbes … Enrolled in Wharton. Club teammate of fellow Quaker, Erik Swenson.
Fuller on Forbes: “We are thrilled to have Scott join our program. He comes to us from two very successful teams at Delbarton and PDA, and has left an indelible mark on both programs. We have been tracking Scott for quite some time and been impressed with his continuous development over the years. He has a great frame, excellent technical ability, and a strong presence in goal. Along with classmate Etan Mabourakh and our two returners, Max Polkinhorne and Nick Savino, I think we will quite possibly have the strongest goalkeeper core in the nation this fall. Longer term, Scott and Etan will bring out the very best in each other.”
Etan Mabourakh | Goalkeeper
Plantation, Fla./David Posnack Jewish Day School (Weston FC)
Before Penn: Invited to U18 US Youth National Team training camp in 2014 … No. 143 in IMG 150 on TopDrawerSoccer.com … Ranked No. 13 among goalkeepers … Played club soccer for Weston FC … Claimed 2014 division championship … Poetry Club founder … Pre-Med Club … Advanced Jazz Band member.
Personal: Son of Ruth and Shahrad Mabourakh … Father rowed crew at Penn … Enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Fuller on Mabourakh: “Etan has established himself as one of the best goalkeepers in the country with his Weston Academy team and was properly rewarded with an invitation to the U18 National Team camp this past fall. He is extremely agile and athletic for a young man of his size. He has a great presence in net, is very comfortable with the ball at his feet, and is capable of making the big save when needed. He has not even scratched the surface of his potential yet and we look forward to helping him in reaching and surpassing that potential in the years ahead. With Etan and classmate Scott Forbes, our long term goalkeeping needs are in great hands. We will have one of the best goalkeeping partnerships in the country over the next four years.”
Gideon Metrikin | Midfielder
New York, N.Y./The Dalton School (Red Bulls Academy)
Before Penn: Ranked No. 68 in the IMG Academy 150 on TopDrawerSoccer.com … Ranked No. 22 among all midfielders … Ranked No. 113 in Class of 2015 by CollegeSoccerNews.com … Played club soccer for the NY Red Bulls … 2014 division champions … 2013 division champions, earning No. 1 seed in US Academy Playoffs … 2012 USDA national champions … 2012 Northeastern Pre-Academy League champions … 2012 National Premier League Champions Cup finalist … Selected to U15 US National Team camp in 2011 … Attended three US National Team training sessions for his age group during 2012-13 season … Travelled with NY Red Bulls team to 2012 Red Bulls Next Generation Trophy Tournament in Strasburg, Austria.
Personal: Son of Megan and Aaron Metrikin … Enrolled in Wharton. Club teammate of fellow Quaker, Jerel Blades.
Fuller on Metrikin: “Gideon is an outstanding two-way midfield player and joins NY Red Bulls teammate Jerel Blades in this year’s class. He has achieved a great deal of success with his Red Bulls club and brings a wealth of experience. He is strong, durable, and technical. He is equally adept at creating chances in the attacking third as he is breaking up plays in the defensive third. Gideon will definitely help solidify our midfield this fall and I believe that he will play an integral role in our team over the next four years.”
Eremuse Momoh | Defender
Silver Spring, Md./McDonogh School (Baltimore Celtic)
Before Penn: Ranked No. 116 in the IMG Academy 150 … Ranked No. 26 among all defenders … Ranked No. 122 in Class of 2015 by CollegeSoccerNews.com … Played club soccer for Baltimore Celtic … Selected to play in the High School All-American Game … Lettered and captained at McDonogh … Two-time MIAA state champions (2011, 2013) … All-Region selection in 2014 … Named All-State in 2014 … Twice named All-Metro (2013, 2014) … Honor Roll student.
Personal: Son of Olubunmi and Musa Momoh … Enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences … Club teammate of fellow Quaker, Gavin Barger.
Fuller on Momoh: “Eremuse can be a difference maker. He is a tremendous athlete whose technical ability has improved tremendously over the past few years. He reads the game very well and is a true competitor. He has been a critical piece for his McDonogh high school team and his Baltimore Celtic club team over the past 4-5 years, and I anticipate that it will be the same at Penn in due time.”
Erik Swenson | Defender
Livingston, N.J./Livingston (PDA)
Before Penn: Ranked No. 84 in Class of 2015 by CollegeSoccerNews.com … Played club soccer for PDA … Attended U14 US Youth National Pool Camp in 2010 … National Honor Society member … National Spanish Honor Society member.
Personal: Son of Cindy and Nils Swenson … Enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences with a major in economics … Sister, Carly, plays soccer at Wesleyan … Club teammate of current Penn teammate, Scott Forbes.
Fuller on Swenson: “Erik is a versatile player who can be a dominant performer in a number of positions in the back half of the field. He is strong in the air and on the tackle. He is a leader at the back, organizes well, and has very good feet for his size. He has been an impact player for his PDA team over the past few years and I would expect the same from him at Penn in the years ahead. He will be given an opportunity to earn his place in our team from the start.”