ROCK HILL, SC – Winthrop men’s soccer head coach Rich Posipanko has announced the addition of 10 players for the upcoming 2014 season which includes four from the Palmetto State.
Charles Coulson, Jonathan Cutrone, Dakota Hawkins and Andrew Raad will join Winthrop from inside South Carolina. Zack Smythe, Sam Schmidt, Sal Perez, Benji Pullen Jordan Stoddart and Kento Ito have each also agreed to play soccer for the Eagles.
“The 2014 recruiting class ended up being much larger than we had expected,” Posipanko said. We only lost four players off our 2013 roster to graduation and we were expecting to bring in a handful of players. Even with nine starters returning we felt we needed to cover ourselves from an attacking standpoint. We hope they will help us return to the College Cup in 2014.”
Coulson is one of three players coming in from York County. Coulson graduated from Rock Hill High School in 2013. He played club soccer at Charlotte Soccer Academy and for the South Carolina United Battery in the US Soccer Developmental Academy. Coulson captained his 2013 high school team and tallied 25 goals and seven assists. He was an All-Area and All-Region selection and was chosen to represent South Carolina in the Clash of the Carolinas.
“Charles did a smart thing and took a year off after graduating high school and was able to continue playing for the SC United Battery because of his age,” Posipanko said. “He is a hard worker with a very good work ethic. He is very intelligent and has good leadership qualities.”
Cutrone will join the Eagles from Fort Mill High School in Fort Mill, SC. He has played club soccer at both Discoveries Soccer Club and Carolina Elite Soccer Academy (CESA). In high school he was a member of the 2012 state championship team and in his time at CESA, his team won the SCYSA state championship in 2013, advancing them to regional play.
“We are certainly glad that Jonathan chose to stay close to home,” Posipanko said. “He is a player that we see growing in time into someone that can play in a few spots and his versatility will be a good addition to our side. He is a dynamic player that is good on both sides of the ball.”
Hawkins comes to Winthrop from Florence, SC and Wilson High School. He also played two seasons for the SC United Battery in the US Soccer Developmental Academy.
“Dakota has shown lots of interest in Winthrop in regards to a very specific degree program that the University offers,” Posipanko said. “After seeing him play with SC United this past summer at USYS Regionals and again with the Battery he stood out as someone that would be a very positive addition to our team based on his quality as a player, but more importantly, as someone with strong character and a tremendous work ethic.”
Raad rounds out the South Carolina products and joined Winthrop from Rock Hill High School. He also played in the US Soccer Developmental Academy for SC United Battery. In addition to his USSDA play, Raad played for the Region III ODP team.
“We are very pleased to pick up Andrew Raad,” Posipanko said. “We feel he has the potential to step in as a freshman and contribute immediately. He is a very good student and possesses good leadership qualities. Andrew entered Winthrop in January, so we are hopeful this will accelerate his progress with the college game,”
Smythe joins the Eagles out of Columbia, MD and Wilde Lake High School. He played club soccer at the Soccer Association of Columbia where he captained his U18 team. He was also a member of the Maryland and Region I ODP teams.
“Zack was a player we came onto late in the process and comes highly recommended from former MLS assistant and head coach John Ellinger,” Posipanko said. “He believes he is a hidden gem and after seeing him play we feel strongly that we found a player that is capable of contribution.”
Schmidt is also a Maryland product from Annapolis Area Christian School in Davidsonville, MD. He won a state title with his high school team at DeMatha High School. He played for the USSDA team of Bethesda-Olney which is a top-10 team nationally. Schmidt currently ranks eighth nationally in the USSDA in goals scored.
“Sam is one of the top goal scorers national in the US Soccer Developmental Academy and we are hoping that playing on one of the top Academy teams in the country will help make an easy transition to the college game,” Posipanko said. “He has natural goal-scoring ability and is someone we can count on at a number of attacking positions.”
Perez is an Orlando, FL native and played high school ball at St. Mary’s Shattuck and club soccer at St. Mary’s Shattuck Academy. He was recognized in the 2014 Boys IMG Academy 150 Player Pool and was ranked 16th by Top Drawer Soccer in the Midwest Region.
“Sal comes to us from former UNC Asheville coach Steve Cornish who is currently coaching at St. Mary’s Shattuck,” Posipanko said. “Being from Orlando and moving to Shattuck has allowed him the chance to really grow as a player in an ultra-competitive and professional environment.”
Pullen hails from Chesterfield, VA where he will graduate from Cosby High School. He has played for the Richmond Kickers in the US Soccer Developmental Academy. He played on the 2011 ODP US Youth Soccer National Championship team and his high school team in 2012 was top-ranked in the country.
“Benji has a tremendous work ethic and understanding of the game,” Posipanko said. “He is an intelligent player who is technically sound on the ball and is able make quick decisions.”
Stoddart is one of two additions from outside the United States as he comes to Winthrop out of Brampton, Ontario, Canada. He will join the Eagles as a junior out of Herkimer Junior College where he was the team’s captain. Herkimer won national championships in 2011 and 2012, compiling an overall record of 38-2-0. He scored 22 goals and recorded 14 assists in two years at Herkimer and was named to the 2012 NSCAA All-East Region team.
“Jordan came onto our radar a few years ago on a recruiting weekend in Toronto when he was in high school,” Posipanko said. “He ended up at Herkimer which is one of the top NJCAA schools in the country. With the loss of some good attackers from last season, we were looking for a goal scorer with pace and experience and we feel that we have found that in Jordan.”
Ito rounds out the recruiting class, joining the Eagles from Queensland, Australia and he will enter Winthrop as a freshman from Southport School. He played on the U18 and U20 Palm Beach SC team in the National Premier League.
“Kento comes to us from our sister state in Queensland, Australia,” Posipanko said. “We feel he will add another dimension and quality into our attacking options. He is a player that brings lots of excitement and ability and can get to goal. He will have a quick adjustment time to the collegiate game but we anticipate him being productive on the field and in the classroom.”