June 20, 2008

Aztec Men’s Soccer Inks Small, But Talented Recruiting Class

San Diego State head men’s soccer coach Lev Kirshner has announced its 2008 recruiting class. The five-player group includes an English national team player, a member of adidas/ESP, who is also a regional ODP starter, the San Diego Union Tribune Player of the Year, a Division I transfer and one of the top defenders in Southern California from the 2008 state champion, DMS 11.

The acclaimed class comes on the heels of a top-40 and two top-20 nationally ranked recruiting classes. Each of the five members could contribute immediately on a team who returns 23 of its 27 spring players, as well as 10 of its 11 starters from the fall 2007 season. Of its 10 returning starters, five – Nick Cardenas, Evan Toft, Jamel Wallace, Brad Byrns and Khadim Diouf – earned all-Pac-10 honors in 2007.

In 2007, SDSU started the season 7-2-2 before losing all-Pac-10 freshman goalkeeper Brad Byrns to an elbow injury. Despite the loss of Byrns, San Diego State would still go on to earn its third consecutive winning season and fourth in five years. In doing so, the Aztecs compiled a 3-1-2 record against top-25 teams and reached as high as No. 18 in the nation by Soccer America, 20th by Top Drawer Soccer, 24th by College Soccer News and Soccer Times and 25th by NSCAA/adidas. In addition, they went 3-1-2 against top-25 teams last year.

“This will be the first year where we will have a four-year cycle of giving out 9.9 scholarships,” Kirshner said. “The addition of these monies has allowed us to bring in three nationally ranked recruiting classes, crack into the NCAA tournament two of the last three years and finish as Pac-10 runner-ups in consecutive seasons.

“Although we have 10 starters and 23 of our 27 players returning, we knew it was important to bring in guys who could impact our lineup right away. In my opinion, the Pac-10 will be as good as ever; thus we could not solely rest our hopes of a championship on last year’s squad members. Three or four of these players will compete for starting positions and they all increase our team’s quality, depth and athleticism.”

Joe Corona (5-11, 150), a midfielder from local Sweet-water HS in San Diego County, comes to San Diego as the 2008 San Diego Union-Tribune Player of the Year. Corona, the 2008 Mesa League Player of the Year, was a three-time all-league first-team selection from 2006-08 and a first-team all-CIF performer in 2008. Corona, who captained the Red Devils to a league championship last season, also played club ball for the San Diego Nomads.

Justin Davies (5-9, 160), a midfielder from San Diego, brings a rich soccer tradition to The Mesa. As a mid-semester admit, Davies has already made an impact as a starter this past spring and was the team-leader in assists. Davies will continue the lineage of his father, Kofi, a former professional soccer player, and his brother, Charlie, a finalist at Boston College for the 2006 Hermann Award. Davies was an adidas/ESP participant, and two-time starter for the Region I ODP team. Davies, who was named a “New England All-Star” by the Boston Globe in 2006-07, was twice honored as a first-team all-conference selection for the Independent School League.

R.J. Smith, a former star at nearby Granite Hills HS, transfers to San Diego State from UC Davis, where he used his medical redshirt as a scholarship athlete. Smith brings experience as a member of the Cal South ODP squad and a two-time Grossmont South all-league selection. At 6-4 and 195 pounds, Smith boasts many physical similarities to former two-time Aztec All-American Tally Hall and could press for a starting spot this fall.

A native of Calabasas, Calif., Steres (6-0, 160) started three seasons as a defender for the Cal-South ODP team and four years for the Coyotes of Calabasas HS. Steres, a two-time Maramonte League and all-CIF selection, also was a three-year member of the JCC Maccabi US championship squad. Steres started for the state champion DMS 11 team, which went 9-0-2 in the U-19 Coast Premier League last year and won the Dallas Cup, Surf Cup and NHB Cup.

A native of Bolton, England, Stott (5-8, 160) rounds out the 2008 recruiting class with a host of accolades. Stott, who transferred from Big East power St. John’s University and will have all four years of collegiate eligibility remaining, brings national team experience after captaining the English team to a gold medal at the FISEC games in Salamanca, Spain. Stott captained the Bolton Wanderers for seven seasons, including two and a half years with the reserve team. In addition, Stott was voted the Bolton Wanderers’ Player of the Season on four occasions.

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