Men's Soccer Adds Eight Players for 2014



Feb. 6, 2014

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By Nate Blythe

ORLANDO, Fla. ( - UCF head men's soccer coach Bryan Cunningham announced on Thursday the addition of eight Knights that have agreed to join the program in the fall of 2014. The class contains six freshman and a pair of transfers in junior Haji Barry from Monroe Community College and Tazeo Gilpin from ASA College.

The freshmen include David Raizes, Walker Dawkins, Drew Bailey, Ricky Prestridge, Jr. and El Haji Barry from the continental U.S along with Rasmus Svenneson from Denmark and Tazeo Gilpin from Jamaica.

"The focus of this class was to bring in high-quality student-athletes that have outstanding character, because of the graduation of two terrific leaders in Omar [Vallejo] and Steven [Lamberta]," Cunningham said. "We believe that the members of this class can come in, play right away and help us compete for the American Athletic Conference title."

UCF finished the 2013 campaign at 8-5-5 overall and 4-1-3 mark in the American, finishing third in the standings. The Knights advanced to the semifinals of the American Championship before falling to Memphis, 2-0.

The incoming class is looking to replace the contribution of seniors Omar Vallejo and Steven Lamberta. Both served as captains during their final seasons with Vallejo tallying three assists in the center midfield and Lomberta earning All-American Athletic Conference Second Team.

Among the nine returners for the Knights in 2014 are starting junior goal keeper Sebastian Evers, sophomore Romario Willams, the American Offensive Player of the Year, and freshman Fernando Laverde, an All-American Conference Rookie Team member.

UCF's 2014 recruiting class:

El Haji Barry - 5-11 - 160 - F/M - Jr. - Rochester, N.Y./Greece Olympia (Monroe C.C.)
- Played past two seasons for Monroe Community College, earning Region II Player of the Year, Championship MVP and First Team
- Monroe made the national junior college finals in 2012
- Honored as 2008 All-County First Team and 2009 All-County Second team playing for head coach Mike Labea at Greece Olympia
- Competed for the Greece Cobras club team coached by Joe Marino

Cunningham on Barry: "He is a very dedicated and versatile player. A very quick lefty that can play out on the wing or even play forward and at times can certainly play in the midfield."

Tazeo Gilpin - 5-7 - 151 - D/M - So. - Spanish Town, Jamaica/Wolmers (ASA College)
- Coming to UCF after playing at ASA College in Brooklyn, N.Y., where the Avengers were the 2013 North-East district champions and 2013 Region XV champions
- Member of the Harbour View Football Club that was 2012 KASAFA U20 champions and coached by Ludlow Bernard
- 2012 Walker Cup champion with Wolmers High School
- Born in Jamaica

Cunningham on Gilpin: "Tazeo is originally from Jamaica and is coming to us from the junior college ranks. He is a left-side player that can play left back or even in his first year with us out on the wing. We are excited to see what he can do at the Division I level."

Drew Bailey - 6-2 - 160 - M - Fr. - Longwood, Fla./Lake Brantley
- Will join UCF after being a two-year member of the Orlando City Development Academy coached by Paul Shaw and Sean Murphy
- Qualified for the U15/16 playoffs with the Orlando City D.A., which finished fourth in the southeast playoffs during inaugural season
- Scored six goals and added three assists in first year with Orlando City D.A.
- Participated in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy
- Earned one varsity letter in soccer, serving as captain during sophomore year and tying for the lead in goals scored from the defensive midfield

Cunningham on Bailey: "Andrew is a good local product from Orlando City and is a bit of a late bloomer. We saw him this fall and were pleased with his development. He is going to be a bit of a project here, but he certainly has good size, speed and excellent technique."

Walker Dawkins - 5-7 - 135 - M - Fr. - Royal Palm Beach, Fla./American Heritage
- Will be joining UCF after playing with the West Pines United/Mirmar Elite teams guided by Richard Jobson
- Honored as one of the 2014 IMG Academy Top 150 Players
- West Pines United/Mirmar Elite was ranked second in state and fourth in the region
- Member of the U.S. National Team Pool in 2010-11
- Competed in the ID2 International Select Tour in 2010
- Recognized in the Top Drawer Soccer Top 150 IMG
- Led his team to win the 2009 State Cup Championships, 2010 Super Y League Championship and 2010 Region 3 Championships
- Captained American Heritage High School as a senior, tallying 15 goals and 25 assists, and was a five-year letterwinner for coach Alvin James
- Two-time Palm Beach Post and Sun-Sentinel All-County First Team (2011-12)

Cunningham on Walker: "He is a tremendous attacking player coming from the South Florida area that can play anywhere in the midfield or as a withdrawn forward."

Ricky Prestridge, Jr. - 5-8 - 150 -Fr. - Orange Park, Fla./Ridgeview
- Will join UCF after being a member of the U16/18 Orlando City Development Academy coached by Paul Shaw and Sean Murphy
- Member of the of the Jacksonville United F.C. 2012 State Cup Champion team
- Tied for first in leading goal scorer in the nation for the U16 D.A.
- Recognized in the Top Drawer Soccer Top 150 IMG
- Leading goal scorer and MVP of Ridgeview High School in his freshmen and sophomore year
- Member of the all-conference second team in his first two years of high school

Cunningham on Prestige: "Ricky comes to us from right up the road with Orlando City. We feel really good about his capabilities as a goal scorer and providing minutes out on the wing."

David Raizes - 5-7 - 152 - M - Fr. - Atlanta, Ga./Johns Creek
- Will arrive at UCF after being with the U18 Concorde Fire Academy guided by Ibrahim Abousaud
- Member of the Region 3 Team for two years, highlighted by a three-game tournament in Costa Rica where he was elected MVP
- Competed for the U16 Concorde Fire Academy that went to nationals in 2009 and played on the 2010 before leaving to play in Costa Rica
- Part of the 2009 U.S. National Pool
- Also had experience with UCR and Barrio Mexico squads
- Born in Sierra Leone

Cunningham on Raizes: "When we originally saw David, we thought that he would be a good holding midfielder. We also believe that he can also help us on the right side at right back or on the wing, which is a little more natural for him."

Rasmus Svenessen - 5-10 - 150 - D/M - Fr. - Rousthoje, Denmark/Rybners Gymnasium
- Captain of Esbjerg FB coached by Lars Lungi Sorensen and led team to bronze in the 2011 and 2013 Danish National Championship
- Runner-up finish at the 2012 Danish Cup
- Competed with the Varde IF as well
- Second highest GPA at Rybners Gymnasium
- Born in Aarhus, Denmark

Cunningham on Svennesen: "Rasmus is a midfielder that delivers excellence and quality in everything he does. We believe that he can come in and play anywhere on the backline for us. His ability to understand the game and how we play is a perfect fit to play in the center."

Ethan Sonis - 5-10 - 150 - M - Fr. - Miami, Fla.
- Played for Kendall Coalition Academy
- Captained FC Dallas Academy under head coach Luchi Gonzalez
- FC Dallas was in the academy national final in 2012
- Recognized in the Top Drawer Soccer Top 150 IMG

Cunningham on Sonis: "Ethan is a very good player that is a lefty. He can play in the midfield, either in an attacking or defensive role. He has also spent some time learning the center back position."