Philadelphia University of Pennsylvania Head Men’s Soccer Coach Rudy Fuller announced commitments from 11 student-athletes for the 2005 season. The 11 newcomers hail from eight different states and include one transfer from the University of Maryland.
“With nine players graduating this year, our coaching staff worked very hard to identify a group of student-athletes that could carry on what those nine young men have started,” Fuller noted. “The departing class captured the 2002 Ivy League Championship, participated in the 2002 NCAA Tournament, and also led the team to a national ranking in the NSCAA Top 25 each of the past three years. It was imperative that we bring in a large, talented group and fortunately for us, we’ve been able to do that with this recruiting class. These young men are anxious to join our program and are eager to help Penn soccer succeed in the years ahead.”
Joining the Red and Blue from the University of Maryland is defender Keith Vereb (Bowie, Md./Dematha Catholic). As a freshman with the Terrapins, Vereb appeared in five games. Prior to Maryland, Vereb was a member of the Region I Olympic Development Program (ODP) team and earned international playing experience by representing Region I at the International Soccer Festival in Bludenz, Austria in 2003. A four-year starter for DeMatha Catholic, he captained the team to its first conference title since 1999. Vereb earned numerous individual honors as he was named Washington Post All-Met Player of the Year, NSCAA/adidas All-American, All-South, All-State and first-team All-WCAC. He also was named Prince George’s County Player of the Year and listed as one of the top-100 recruits in the country by TopDrawerSoccer.com.
“Keith brings a wealth of experience to our program,” Fuller said. “As with any transfer, he will need time to adjust to a new program, but we expect that he will have a positive impact on our team this season.”
Four local student-athletes will join the he Red and Blue this fall: John Elicker (West Chester, Pa./B. Reed Henderson), Andrew Ferry (Wyndmoor, Pa./Chestnut Hill Academy), Andrew Healy (Wilmington, Del./Archmere Academy), and Ryan Porch (Marlton, N.J./Cherokee). Elicker, a defender, was a two-year captain at Henderson where he helped the team to a state championship in 2002 and the state finals in 2005. As a senior, he was named the All-Area Player of the Year. Elicker has been a member of the Eastern Pennsylvania ODP since 2000 and helped the team to a ODP National Championship in 2005. He also captains the state champion FC Delco Black club team.
“I have known Johnny for a number of years now and I’ve always been impressed with his competitiveness and leadership,” Fuller said. “He has been an integral part of every one of his teams and those teams have been very successful during that time. Simply put, he is a winner.”
Ferry, a defender, was named Chestnut Hill Academy’s most valuable player as a junior and a senior and is a three-time first-team All-InterAC selection. A former Eastern Pennsylvania ODP member, he currently plays for the PSC Coppa club team and has helped lead team to the four state championships in the past five years.
“Andrew is another athletic flank player that we believe can help us as a wide back or midfielder,” Fuller commented. “He has been a part of an outstanding run with his PSC Coppa team and we look forward to having him join our team.”
Porch was a defender at Cherokee where he was named second-team All-State and first-team All-South Jersey as a senior. Porch is also a member of the Region I Olympic Development Program team and has played for the New Jersey ODP team since 2000. He currently plays for the Brick City Who club team (formerly called the Middletown Sonics) that captured the 2004 Jefferson Cup, advanced to the state championship and was a finalist at the 2004 Tampa Sun Bowl.
“Ryan is a big, athletic defender that is comfortable with the ball at his feet,” Fuller stated. “He has been exposed to the game at a high level and I would expect that experience to help him settle in to our program.”
Rounding out the defensive unit is Healy, a goalkeeper. As a senior at Archmere Academy he captained the team to the state semifinals for just the second time in school history. He was also a second-team All-State and a two-time first-team All-Conference selection. Healy has been a member of the Delaware ODP since 1999 and currently plays for the Concord Roma club team. He helped Concord Roma to three consecutive State Championships from 2002-2004 as well as one in 2000 and was a finalist at both the Disney Showcase and the Jefferson Cup in 2005.
“With just one returning goalkeeper, Drew is going to get an opportunity to compete for the position right away and should gain some valuable experience early on,” Fuller commented. “He is a very athletic and determined individual who has a bright future ahead of him.”
The Quakers will also get a pair of student-athletes from Marquette University High School in Michael Klein (Brookfield, Wisc.) and Kevin Unger (Menomonee Falls, Wisc.). In their time at Marquette both Klein and Unger helped the team to two state championships and three Greater Metro Conference Championships.
Klein, who is the younger brother of recent Penn Soccer graduate Joe, will join the Red and Blue as a forward. He was named an NSCAA Midwest Regional All-American and first-team All-State in 2003 and 2004. He scored 61 goals and had 31 assists in three years at Marquette. He also was a member of the Region II Olympic Development Program team in 2003 and 2004 and has been in the Regional Pool since 2001. He recently joined the FC Milwaukee club team after a number of years with Mequon United, who reached the state championship game four-consecutive years.
“Michael is another exciting attacking player who can be dangerous in a number of ways. He is very good on set plays and is an excellent finisher in and around the box,” Fuller praised. “I am interested to see how quickly he adapts to the college game.”
Unger, a midfielder, also was an NSCAA Regional All-American in 2004 and earned first-team All-State, All-Greater Metro Conference and Journal Sentinel All-Area honors as a junior and senior. He is a member of the Region II Olympic Development pool and the Wisconsin ODP team. He currently plays for the three-time Wisconsin State Cup finalist Mequon United FC club team.
“Kevin is a tough, competitive player who reads the game well and very good at breaking up plays. He does all the little things on the field that are required for a team to be successful,” Fuller noted. “His unselfish play will be an asset to our team.”
Alexander Grendi (Huntington, N.Y./Cold Spring Harbor) is one of the many talented newcomers that the Quakers will welcome to the midfield. Grendi is currently a member of the Region I Olympic Development Team and has been a member of the Region I Pool for the past five years and the Eastern New York State Team for the past six years. He was selected for the Super Y League National Camp in 2004, was a member of the U.S. Youth National Pool in 2001 and was invited to the 2004 adidas ESP camp. At Cold Spring Harbor, he was a two-year captain and helped the team to the Class C Championship in 2001 and the Class B-1 Championship in 2002. As a senior, he was named Class B Player of the Year, All-Region, and All-State. He plays club ball for the Blau Weiss Gotchee.
“Alex is a dynamic attacking player who can be dangerous off the pass or the dribble,” Fuller said. “I look forward to working with him over the next four years and seeing what type of an impact he can make on our program.”
Three players Andrew Chesser (Henderson, Nev./Green Valley), Joshua Baugh (Dale City, Calif./Lick-Wilmerding) and Omid Shokoufandeh (Los Angeles, Calif./Santa Monica) will head cross-country to the friendly confines of Rhodes Field.
Chesser, a midfielder, is a former player for the Nevada ODP. He currently plays for the Las Vegas Premier club team where he has captained the squad to six-consecutive state championships and was named the team’s MVP. At Green Valley, he captained the team as a senior and was named the team’s MVP and All-State. He also was a three-year All Conference and All-Division honoree. Chesser received the United States Army Reserve National Scholar Athlete Award and was a Wendy’s High School Heisman nominee.
“Drew is a natural leader and is very confident in his ability. He has an excellent work rate and serves a good ball from the flanks,” Fuller stated. “With the large number of players graduating, he will provide some much needed depth to our team this year.”
Baugh is also a midfielder and enjoyed a highly successful career at Lick-Wilmerding. A two-year captain, he led team to a league title as a senior, its best finish in 35 years, and helped the team to the North Coast Section Quarterfinals in the school’s first-ever tournament appearance. He is a two-time first-team All-League selection and team MVP and as a senior, was named Lick-Wilmerding’s Athlete of the Year and had his number retired. Baugh is also a former player for the Cal-North Olympic Development Program and currently plays for the Santa Rosa United club team.
“Josh is a talented and very athletic soccer player who is capable of playing in any number of spots for our team,” Fuller added. “His versatility will be a valuable asset to us this year and I would expect that versatility to enable him to compete for time right away.”
Rounding out the class of 2009 is Shokoufandeh. As a forward for Santa Monica, he led the team to the league championship in his junior and senior seasons. He was named the league’s Best Offensive Player in his final two seasons and earned second-team All-CIF honors. Shokoufandeh is a former member of the Region IV Olympic Development pool and is currently a player for the Cal-South ODP team. He also plays for the Valley United club team which was a So-Cal State Cup semi-finalist in 2004.
“Omid is a fast, intelligent forward who is extremely creative in and around the box,” Fuller said. “When we first saw him, we liked him immediately and look forward to having him in our program the next four years.”
Penn went 7-8-2 overall and 3-3-1 in the Ivy League in 2004 and earned a national-ranking as high as No. 14 during the season. The Quakers will return five starters and 11 letterwinners in the fall.
-Written by Kelly McCarthy, athletic communications assistant