RICHMOND, Va. – With only three players graduating from last year's VCU men's soccer team, the coaching staff had specific areas that they were looking to address entering the fall of 2012.
"With only a few guys leaving from last year's team, we were focused on adding a very small but talented group of student-athletes to our program for 2012," Head Coach Dave Giffard said. "Most importantly, we wanted to make sure that we added the right type of people to what is already a very talented group."
Giffard and his staff believe they have done just that with the six newcomers that will be joining the Black & Gold this fall.
Joining the Rams this fall will be defenders Dennis Castillo (San Jose, Costa Rica) and Adam Hamdan (Leesburg, Va.), forwards K.C. Onyeador (Sterling, Va.) and Matt Friebaum (Frederick, Md.), midfielder Dakota Barnathan (Massapequa, N.Y.), and goalkeeper Richie Ongaro (Columbus, N.J.).
"We've added six players that are winners and people that are really going to help shape our personality and our culture over the next four years," Giffard added. "I couldn't be more excited about having them join our program and expect great things from all of them in the future."
Dakota Barnathan (pictured, right)
Barnathan brings a long list of accolades with him to Richmond after a star-studded career at Massapequa High School in New York. He earned All-Region, All-State, All-Long Island, All-County and the team MVP award this past season, along with the 2011 Ralph Witney AA Player of the Year Award. He's been a member of the national pool for the US Youth National Team, while also playing several international friendlies with the Region I ODP squad. He has spent the last two years playing for The Cosmos Academy, serving as captain and was among the national leaders in scoring with 16 goals a year ago.
Giffard on Barnathan
"Dakota is a hard-working player with a lot of upside. He's a leader, he's a winner, and he's been the captain of basically every team he has been on. We expect him to come here and challenge for playing time right away and over the course of his career be a major influence on our culture."
Dennis Castillo (pictured, left)
Castillo is an immediate impact international addition that has already spent the spring season with the Black & Gold. He impressed the coaching staff with his defensive prowess at the center back position, where he played for the youth team of Deportivo Saprissa, his club team in Costa Rica where he served as the team captain. He was also a member of the Costa Rica U18 National Team.
Giffard on Castillo
"Dennis joined us this spring and worked his way into our starting lineup almost immediately. He has a lot of the winning qualities that make up championship caliber players. We expect a lot of Dennis throughout his career and look forward to his first fall with us."
Matt Friebaum (pictured, right)
Friebaum is a versatile player that could see time at the forward and midfield spots for the Rams and will push for playing time at both spots. He had a stellar high school career at Linganore High School, where he earned All-Met, All-State, All-Frederick News, All-Gazette and All-Piedmont accolades. He was named his squad's Offensive Player of the Year after scoring 19 goals and dishing out 10 assists in just 16 games. He was also the leading scorer for the Regional Futbal Club, the 2011-12 Virginia State Champions.
Giffard on Friebaum
"Matt is a gritty forward, wide midfield type player that reminds me of a guy that I coached at Indiana named Mike Ambersley, who plays for The Tampa Bay Rowdies of the NASL. Matt's a soccer junkie who travels a couple hours round trip to play with his club team and plays all the soccer he can, he just loves the game. I think he's a player that will thrive in our environment."
Adam Hamdan (pictured, left)
Hamdan gives the Rams valuable depth in the backfield, where he played 22 games, starting 19 for the D.C. United U16 Academy squad that went to the playoffs and won the 2010-11 Mid-Atlantic Conference. He traveled internationally with the DC United Academy squads, earning starts in all five games at the FIFA Future Champions Tournament. He was a member of the Virginia ODP team for three years, where they were the Regional Semi-Finalist in 2009. Prior to his time with the DC United Academy, he was a two year starter at Stone Bridge High School, where his team posted a 29-7-1 record over that span.
Giffard on Hamdan:
"Adam is a young man with a lot of winning traits. His daily approach to the game and training will allow him to thrive in an ultra competitive environment. We're looking forward to getting him into preseason practice and the beginning of his career as a Ram."
Richie Ongaro (pictured, right)
Ongaro gives the coaching staff another option between the pipes, where he will certainly compete for playing time with the current Ram netminders. He was the team captain for Notre Dame Academy in New Jersey, where he was named All-County and All-State as both a junior and senior. He was also a member of the South Jersey Barons PDL squad for three seasons, as well as the Marlton Lightning Red for three seasons.
Giffard on Ongaro
"Richie is a very talented goalkeeper that we initially met at our summer camp, from the soccer rich state of New Jersey. I think he's a guy that can come in and challenge our current goalkeeping group immediately. He has the potential to be very successful here in long term."
K.C. Onyeador (pictured, left)
Onyeador comes to VCU with a year of collegiate soccer already under his belt, playing the 2010 season as a member of the Clemson Tigers. In his debut season in the ACC, Onyeador played in all 18 games, starting eight of them, while finishing fourth on the team in points with 16, thanks to five goals and two assists. He played his high school career at Park View High School, where he earned All-District and All-Region accolades. He was also the club captain and leading goal scorer for the DC United Academy team.
Giffard on Onyeador:
"KC is a forward with a knack for scoring goals in the box. He's an extremely talented young man, who adds a little different look than the forwards we already have on our roster. I think we could see some very good things from him over the next three years."