Mount Vernon Nazarene College men's soccer coach Paul Furey has secured the talent for the 1998 season which he hopes will replace seven seniors which led the Cougars to a record-setting season this past year.
"No doubt it is tough when you lose seven quality players," said Furey, who will be entering his ninth season at MVNC. "However, I think that we have an outstanding group of recruits joining us this fall."
To start off the incoming recruiting class, Furey has loaded up the Cougar attack with midfielders Nels Radtke, Preston Elifritz, Chris Eliopoulos, Adam Cassaday, and Kevin Iannetta.
Radtke joins the Cougars from traditionally strong soccer power Worthington Christian High School, where he was a four-year starter as his team won three conference titles. During his senior season, Radtke captained the squad and was the team's assist leader as he earned All-Conference and All-District honors.
"Nels brings quality high school and club soccer experience which will certainly add value to this team quickly," Furey said. "He sees the field well and has a quick and accurate touch on the ball. We are very excited about his decision to join us."
Elifritz is a potent scorer from Miami East High School near Dayton, Ohio, where he was named First Team All-Conference for three years. As a senior, he netted 24 goals and added eight assists while being named All-Area. Elifritz, who scored 61 career goals in high school, was also selected for the Olympic Development program in 1997.
"Preston is a great catch for us," remarked Furey. "He is a superb player, but also will bring a friendly and outgoing personality that will fit well with our group. He is a fine student, and like Nels (Radtke), comes from a family that values Christian higher education."
MVNC also added two All-State selections with Eliopoulos from Lake High School near Akron, Ohio, and Cassady from Elkins High School in West Virginia. Eliopoulos finished with 38 career goals and 19 assists, and is versatile enough to play up front, attacking midfield, or defensive midfield. Cassaday, his school's salutatorian, played more of a defensive midfield for Elkins, but he can also distribute and attack effectively.
Iannetta comes to the Cougars from a soccer stronghold to the north, Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy. He was a Second Team All-Conference selection and his team's second-leading scorer on the outside midfield.
Up front, Furey has signed transfers Josh Robson from Akron University and Chuck Wolf from Huntington (IN) College. Robson was a First Team All-Ohioan at Mansfield Madison High School before attending Akron for one year. He tallied school records of 82 career goals and 30 career assists at Madison, and was named the Conference Player of the Year as a senior.
"Josh will be a vital part of our attack next fall," said Furey. "He is a player that I remember watching in high school and being impressed with his speed and not just his ability to score, but also his work ethic to make it happen. I believe that we will be seeing a lot of that as Josh suits up as a Cougar."
Wolf joins MVNC as the leading goal scorer from Huntington. He was also a standout at Worthington Christian as he netted 38 goals in his final two seasons while being tabbed All-Conference and All-District.
"Chuck adds the depth we need up front to make us a solid team," Furey said. "He has proven himself on the high school and college level, and will certainly fit into the mix of our talented front line."
Fortifying the back line, the Cougars have added two defenders in Marion Harding High School's Chad Smith and Brian Rice, the third Worthington Christian player in this year's recruiting class. Smith is a good-sized, solid, versatile player, while Rice adds quickness and aggression as a former sweeper for the Warriors.
"Chad and Brian are both outstanding athletes who will eventually be a major part of our back line," said Furey. "They are similar in that they have both impressed me as fine, young gentlemen from good families who will fit well into this environment."
The final piece of Furey's recruiting scheme is goalkeeper David Brunk from Wrens, Georgia, who will transfer to MVNC from Liberty (VA) University. Brunk will challenge current All-Mid-Ohio Conference goalie Josh Bush for time between the posts. "David's work ethic, positive attitude, and maturity will be a welcomed addition and necessary for our team's success next fall," Furey said.
"I am really excited about the quality of these ten young men both from a soccer perspective and in their character," added Furey. "I anticipate something special next fall."