PEORIA, Ill. – After enjoying one of the best four-year runs in program history, Bradley Soccer turned its focus to the future with the announcement of an eight-man recruiting class that will join the Braves for the 2014 season. Two of the recruits, Daniel Gardner and Richard Olson, were rated as 4-star recruits by TopDrawerSoccer.com and were included in the IMG Academy Top 150 player pool.
The 2014 recruiting class will help fill the void created by the graduation of 10 seniors. Six of those senior helped Bradley win two Missouri Valley Conference Tournament titles and reach three NCAA Tournaments
“With the loss of 10 seniors that were so successful, obviously there were large holes to fill,” said Bradley head coach Jim DeRose. “Our goal was to add depth to our returning core of players, in particular with lock-down defenders, and identify attacking players with great pace and athleticism that can threaten back lines. Another primary need was a central midfield player or two that can bring players into the game with good vision and penetrating passing ability. I believe we accomplished those goals and are very excited about this class.”
2014 Bradley Soccer Recruiting Class
|Tommy Clark||M||Granger, Ind.||Saint Joseph||Three Lions FC Elite|
|Clark Emerson||D||Grand Prairie, Texas||Mansfield Lake Ridge||Andromeda U18|
|Daniel Gardner||F||Waterloo, Ill.||Waterloo||SLSC Metro U18 USSDA|
|Andrew Lwanga||D||Flossmoor, Ill.||Homewood-Flossmoor||Chicago Fire Juniors South|
|Grayson McGraw||D||Washington, Ill.||Peoria Notre Dame||Central Illinois Soccer Academy|
|Richard Olson||F||Park Ridge, Ill.||Maine South||Sockers FC|
|Matt Perry||D||Zionsville, Ind.||Zionsville||Zionsville Youth Soccer Assn.|
|Jacob Taylor||D||Dunlap, Ill.||Dunlap||Central Illinois Soccer Academy|
Bradley returns 18 players from its 2013 squad that finished 14-7-2 overall, won the Missouri Valley Conference postseason tournament title and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Braves lost 10 players to graduation, however, including Valley Player of the Year and team scoring leader, Wojciech Wojcik, and three-time All-MVC goalkeeper Brian Billings. Rising sophomore Christian Okeke, the 2013 MVC Freshman of the Year, is Bradley’s top returning scorer after posting 16 points on six goals and four assists. Okeke is one of 10 returning players to score at least one point last season.
Playing with a short roster during the 2013 spring season, the Braves went undefeated (4-0-1) in five exhibition games.