RICHMOND, Va. – The Virginia Commonwealth University men's soccer program will welcome 10 new faces to the team this fall as the Rams announced their 2013 recruiting class.
Donovan Arias, Greg Boehme, Ray De Leon, Juan Fajardo, Michael Gaffary, Bobby Hopper, Jason McGlothern, Pablo Paz, Luka Vujanovic and Finnlay Wyatt will all join VCU on the field next season.
"We are thrilled with our incoming group for 2013. This class is not only loaded with character, but also ability," said fourth-year Head Coach Dave Giffard. "Before their time at VCU finishes, this group is going to play a critical role in solidifying our place among the nation's elite college soccer programs."
The 10-player class will look to continue building upon the success Giffard has established during his short time at VCU. Giffard, who has guided the Rams to three straight winning campaigns, led VCU back to the NCAA Tournament in 2012 as a national seed for the first time since 2004. The Black and Gold went on to post 12 victories last year, the most since 2007, and finished ranked No. 25 in the final NSCAA poll.
2013 VCU MEN'S SOCCER RECRUITS:
- Dynamic wide midfield player
- Member of Bethesda soccer club coached by Brett Colton
- Member of Region I and Virginia ODP
Coach Giffard on Arias:
"Donovan is a player who reminds me a lot of Juan Arbelaez as a high school player, who just finished this past fall with us and is currently playing professional soccer with the Richmond Kickers. Donovan is a player who over time, has the tools to be ultra successful in our environment."
- Captain of McLean Academy in McLean, Va.
- Member of the Region I ODP team from 2009-2011 and served as the captain of the 1995 Virginia state ODP team that won the national championship in 2011
- Played high school soccer for Forest Park High School and was named All-State and All-Met in both 2011 and 2012
- Ranked as the 128th-best player in the class of 2013 by topdrawersoccer.com
Coach Giffard on Boehme:
"Greg is a central midfield player who has good feet, a good brain and is a winner. His attention to detail and competitiveness will give him the opportunity to thrive in our environment over the course of his career. As much as any player we have recruited in the last three years, Greg is the type of person we are looking for, one who does his very best in all aspects of his life."
Ray De Leon
- Transferred from DePaul, where he started in central midfield and served as the team captain for the Blue Devils
- Served as DePaul Athletics' student athlete representative to the Big East Conference
- Prior to enrolling at DePaul, played for the Dallas Texans 1992 where he helped lead the team to a national title in 2008, a runner-up finish in the academy national finals in 2009 and was named to the best 11 of the U-19 national championships in 2010
Coach Giffard on De Leon:
"Ray is another guy in this group who is wired the right way. He does the little things right all the time and could function in almost any roll for us in midfield. His engine and his competitiveness are probably his strongest qualities. I would expect him to challenge to play right away."
- Central defender from Honduras
- Member of Honduras' U-17 National Team Pool
- Member of the youth team at C.D. Olimpia in Talanga, Honduras
Coach Giffard on Fajardo:
"Juan is a center back in the mold of Dennis Castillo who was a Freshmen All-American this past fall for us. He has joined us in January and has made a good jump over the course of the spring. I would expect him to be ready to challenge for a starting spot this fall."
- Member of Albertson's U-18 Academy team
- Member of Region I ODP Team from 2008-2010
- All-League, All-State and Defensive MVP of St. John the Baptist High School
- Invited to 2009 National ID2 Camp as well as National Team trials in 2010
Coach Giffard on Gaffary:
"Michael is a tenacious goalkeeper who we first identified at our college prep camp last summer. He has a knack for not giving up goals and will be a welcomed addition to our goalkeeping corps. With the right mentality, his future could be very bright here at VCU."
- A right back who captained his high school team to the 2012 state championship in Georgia, scoring 11 goals and adding eight assists
- Named all-region for coach Chris Wilson at Lambert High School
Coach Giffard on Hopper:
"Bobby is a young man who we first identified at our College Prep Camp. He has played as an attacker most of his life, but moved to right back last year and has some high end potential in that role moving forward."
- A left sided attacking midfielder from the Seattle Sounders Academy
- Member of the Washington State ODP team that lost in the national finals to Greg Boehme's Virginia squad
- Spent most of 2010 in Germany training with FC Nuremberg's academy
Coach Giffard on McGlothern:
"Jason is a player whose qualities fit our team and the way we play very well. He has good feet, a good brain and can play wide or centrally. I think his best days are ahead of him and I look forward to having him in our daily environment."
- An attacking midfielder and member of Costa Rica's U-20 National team
- Played in the youth team of Uruguay de Coronado
Coach Giffard on Paz
"Pablo has joined us this January and has all the qualities to be a top end attacking midfielder. At this point he still has a long way to go, but has the potential to be one of the best #10's in the college game."
- A central midfielder that led coach Mike Potempa's Monteverde, Fla. squad to the high school national championship
- Grew up in Montenegro and is a member of their U-17, U-18 and U-20 National Teams
Coach Giffard on Vujanovic
"Luka is a ball moving midfielder who is a mix between Jose Castillo and Lucas Paulini, both of whom were great players for us and are now playing professionally. He can play as an attacking-mid, but his best role is as the rhythm guy that comes and gets it from the backs and connects all of the dots. I think he will thrive in our environment and we expect him to be in the mix to play right away."
- Member of the Richmond Kickers Academy
- Member of Midlothian High School, where he was named All-Region and All-Metro
- Spent his youth in England before moving to Richmond
- Was a member of Sheffield Wednesday's Academy while living in the UK
Coach Giffard on Wyatt:
"Finno is a left sided player who is a very good passer. He has the physical tools to do very well in our environment and will fit in well with the way we play."