Central Connecticut State University added 10 players to its menâ€™s soccer program for the upcoming 2021 season, interim head coach David Kelly announced.
The group will aim to bring depth and experience to a Blue Devils team that was third in the Northeast Conference last spring. It was the first time CCSU was over .500 since 2013, going 3-3-1 in an conference-only schedule for the Kellyâ€™s first season at the helm.
Joining the club are defensemen Alek Bravo and Jacob Welle Smogeli.
On Bravo, Kelly liked his hard-nosed mentality and believes heâ€™s a strong addition to the back line.
"Alek is a tough, athletic fullback with a competitive spirit, and a winning attitude. He has had some great experiences with Weston, and he will add quality to the back line," Kelly said.
On Welle Smogeli, Kelly will look for the Norwegian product to make an impact on the attacking end while holding the back line.
"Jakob is a top attacking defender. He has good size and speed, and we'll be looking for him to be a top defender while also adding a threat going forward,â€ť said Kelly. â€śWe can't wait to see him in the Blue Devil's kit."
Erik Hjertsson, Birk Martinsen, Austin Rocke and Adriel Sanchez will make up the attacking end of the incoming class, all of which impressed Kelly individually.
Hjertsson, a native of Malmo, Sweden, will bring a winning mentality and goal-scoring touch to New Britain.
â€śErik is athletic, and at 6-foot-3 he will be a presence up front. He's rapid, very clean with the ball, and can get behind or play with his back to goal. Erik can be deployed at any of the front three positions,â€ť said Kelly. â€śHe's a goal-scorer with a winning mentality."
Martinsen, another Scandinavian-born freshman from Norway, brings experience from a top Oslo club where he will get to showcase both his flexibility and on-pitch IQ in a Blue Devils kit.
"Birk comes from a top club in Oslo, and had a great education there. He is very fast, very skillful, and can play a variety of positions. He will be an immediate attacking threat for us,â€ť said Kelly. â€śWe are thrilled he'll be joining the Blue Devils."
Rocke, a Pennsylvania native who has racked up a nice resume of accolades in his soccer career, will enter his sophomore season at CCSU after transferring from National Champion Marshall University. A smart kid in the classroom, heâ€™ll compete for playing time right away with his proven skills and high character.
"Austin is outstanding student-athlete who is comfortable at either the 9 or 10 positions. He's athletic, he can hold the ball, and he's a proven goal-scorer,â€ť said Kelly. â€śAustin has a great work rate, a really professional attitude, and the the type of high character that we're searching for to move the program forward. He will compete for time right away."
Sanchez, another transfer, will take his skills from Coastal Carolina to New Britain with the goal of becoming one of the top three attackers.
"Adriel is a quick and skillful attacking player,â€ť said Kelly. â€śHe's had a great education at the Barcelona Academy, and he will come in and compete for time at any of the front three attacking positions."
Up the middle, Mike Indomenico, Giulio Potente and Brian Son will join the club with varying skills.
Indomenico, a Wethersfield native who excelled at Avon Old Farms, was an all-state selection in 2021 and won a few titles with Sporting CT. His ability to read the field and set up the attack is something Kelly expects to translate in Div. I.
"Michael is a very talented center midfielder. He's very clean in possession, has a great range of passing, and has excellent vision,â€ť said Kelly. â€śHe will compete for minutes in the midfield right away."
Potente, a Florida native, will bring his technical style of play to New Britain as he aims to get back to 100% from a knee injury.
"Giulio is a top, talented playmaker. He's technical, has a great range of passing, and can run the show in the middle of the park, play as an out-an-out striker, or a false 9,â€ť said Kelly. â€śGiulio is recovering from a knee injury, so he'll need some time before he can use his quality to impact our program."
Son returns to Connecticut after one season at University of Vermont, where he started in six games and helped record five clean sheets. The Glastonbury native will feel right at home in the state he won a state title in 2018, joining a club where Kelly has a chance to make an impact right away.
Â We've known about Brian for some time and he's one of the most talented prospects to come out of Connecticut in years. Brian is fast, technical, and very, very clean with the ball,â€ť said Kelly. â€śWe expect Brian to come in and command a spot in the center of the park."
Daniel Wilmore is the final recruit, transferring to CCSU as a junior goalkeeper for the Blue Devils. The Frisco, Texas native comes from Div. II Fort Lewis College where he appeared in two game, serving primarily as a backup, recording three saves with no goals allowed.
Wilmore held a 36-game unbeaten streak with 21 shutouts at Centennial High School. The experience Wimore has is something Kelly likes, and his skills add to his value.
Daniel Wilmore is a very talented goalkeeper, with great technique and athleticism. He already has some excellent college experience, and he should be competing for minutes as soon as he arrives,â€ť said Kelly. â€śWe're very fortunate he's chosen to come to Central."
Martinsen, Rocke and Sanchez are expected to be both forwards and midfielders for the club as well. On the incoming class as a whole, Kelly feels it complements last yearâ€™s class while proving the program is committed to bringing in technical and skilled players who will bring the program to a higher level.
"This is a class which builds perfectly on last year's great class. We've added 10 outstanding student-athletes to the program (six freshmen and four transfers). This class reflects our commitment to recruiting highly technical and athletic players, who fit perfectly into our vision for the program,â€ť said Kelly. â€śMost importantly, we've recruited 10 young men with high character who are committed to our pursuit of excellence. They will join a squad who have demonstrated relentless determination in elevating the program to the national level. Every one of these new Blue Devils have the potential to compete for minutes right away, and several could earn starting roles.â€ť
Kelly thanked his coaching staff for helping bring together the team, and pointed his excitement for the Aug. 31 season opener on the road against University of Rhode Island.
â€śI want to thank my assistants, Shane (Recklet), Olgert (Dalipi), and James (Perkins) for their hard work and dedication in putting together this outstanding class. We can't wait for August,â€ť said Kelly.