LANCASTER, Pa. – Franklin & Marshall men's soccer head coach Dan Wagner announced the Diplomats' incoming freshman class. The 10-member group includes four players from Pennsylvania, two from New York, as well as one each from Delaware, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Nigeria.
"This is an outstanding class, which includes players from some of the top club, academy, private and public schools in the county, and we feel that most of them have the quality to challenge for a starting position," said Wagner. "This is also one of the physically biggest classes we have brought in, which will subtly change what has historically been a small Diplomat squad."
Along with 21 returners this fall, the class of 2019 will look to help fill the void of a talented seven-member group of seniors that included four All-Centennial Conference (CC) members.
F&M Men's Soccer Class of 2019Alex Bilodeau – M – Plymouth Meeting, Pa./Plymouth Whitemarsh Jim Connolly – F – Wilmington, Del./Charter School of Wilmington Ryan Fincher – F – West Chester, Pa./West Chester Rustin Josh Gotlib – GK – Broomall, Pa./Marple Newtown Justin Heins – D – Somerville, N.J./Somerville Cory Lewis – D - East Greenwich, R.I./Moses Brown School Cole Niggeman – M – Devon, Pa./Conestoga Ugochukwu Okolie – F – Lagos, Nigeria/Mercersburg Academy Xavier Salvador – M/D – Albany, N.Y./The Hotchkiss School Elliot Straus – GK – Larchmont, N.Y./Mamaroneck
The Recruit Breakdown
Alex Bilodeau (Plymouth Meeting, Pa./Plymouth Whitemarsh)
Highlights: Member of Montgomery United club team… Montgomery United Male Player of the Year… First Team All-Conference as a junior and senior… 2012 State Cup Finalist.
F&M coaching staff on Bilodeau: "He's a 6-0, 175-pound center-mid that has the size and engine of a ball winner, but the feet of a creator. Alex will play as a box-to-box midfielder for the Diplomats."
Jim Connolly (Wilmington, Del./Charter School of Wilmington)
Highlights: Member of the Delaware Rush club team… Set school record in assists… Named Delaware All-State and ranked third best player in the state… NSCAA Regional All-American.
F&M coaching staff on Connolly: "Jim's a 6-0 winger that is left-footed, crafty and serves a tremendous ball."
Ryan Fincher (West Chester, Pa./West Chester Rustin)
Highlights: Member of the Penn Fusion club team… Captain of both club and high school teams… All-League First Team… All-Southeast Pennsylvania First Team… First Team All-Chest-Mont… Second leading scorer in league as a midfielder.
Ryan's highlight video can be found here.
F&M coaching staff on Fincher: "Ryan continues F&M's tradition of small attacking players with flair. He is pure class with the ball at his feet."
Josh Gotlib (Broomall, Pa./Marple Newtown)
Highlights: Member of Nether United club team and Philadelphia Union U16 Academy… Played varsity as a sophomore… Named captain his senior year and led high school to third playoff birth in school history.
F&M coaching staff on Gotlib: "At 6-0, 180 lbs., Josh has a perfect frame to be a top collegiate goalkeeper. He has tremendous training, including as a member of an MLS USSDA squad."
Justin Heins (Somerville, N.J./Somerville)
Highlights: Member of F.C. COPPA Juniors… Three-year letter winner and two-year captain of high school team… Third Team All-Area… Honorable Mention All-State… Somerville High School MVP… Earned the Outstanding Achievement Award on his club team.
F&M coaching staff on Heins: "As a 6-0, 170-lb. center back, Justin is a big, sturdy, organizing defender."
Cory Lewis (East Greenwich, R.I./Moses Brown School)
Highlights: Member of Bayside F.C… Club team was two-time state champions… Captain of high school team… Two-time First Team All-Division.
F&M coaching staff on Lewis: "Cory is a calm, intelligent, leader that is a first-class passing defender."
Cole Niggeman (Devon, Pa./Conestoga)
Highlights: Member of Lower Merion Lightning club team, DELCO USSDA U18… Captained LMSC Lightning for four years, before starting all games for the U18 DELCO Academy team… Played varsity on Conestoga PIAA State Championship team… Led squad in assists his sophomore year.
Cole's Highlight video can be found here.
F&M coaching staff on Niggeman: "Cole is a strong presence in the midfield or even up top as a 6-0, 180 lb. player. He has great vision and technique and will start his career as a center-mid for the Diplomats."
Ugochukwu Okolie (Lagos, Nigeria/Mercersburg Academy)
Highlights: Scored 22 goals and 20 assists at Mercersburg Academy… Part of MTN Scholar Program, which provides a platform for Nigeria's best student-athletes/soccer players that are academically sound to earn scholarships to American universities.
Ugochukwu's highlight video can be found here.
F&M coaching staff on Okolie: "Okolie is a unique player. Fast, strong and clever with the ball, he is a forward who can score a lot of goals."
Xavier "ZZ" Salvador (Albany, N.Y./The Hotchkiss School)
Highlights: Member of F.C Dutchmen (N.Y.) and Beachside F.C. (Conn.)… Attended Deerfield Academy before spending an extra year as a post graduate at the Hotchkiss School… Named captain senior year… New England Prep. School All-Star.
Xavier's highlight video can be found here.
F&M coaching staff on Salvador: "He's a crafty, hard-tackling player with great vision and passing range. ZZ will play holding midfielder or wing-back for us."
Elliot Straus (Larchmont, N.Y./Mamaroneck)
Highlights: Member of Beachside USSDA U18 and Albertson USSDA U16… Selected to the Super-Y League ODP National Camp in 2010… A consistent USSDA Academy player.
Elliot's highlight video can be found here.
F&M coaching staff on Straus: "Elliot was a quick Academy goalkeeper with great distribution."