BANGOR, Maine- Husson University men's soccer program and Head Coach Gavin Penny welcome 15 new student-athletes in the 2017 class. There are six different countries represented in the class, United States, Spain, Brazil, Egypt, Bermuda, and Georgia. The 15 incoming student-athletes are: Paxton Oversmith, Michael Wong, Nathan Firlings, Alvaro Valls, Alex Mooney, Kyle Townsend, Rafael Paganoni, Jahmal Williams, Bryce Hayman, Richard Faria, Ahmed Abdelaziz, Jomei Bean-Lindo, Takyh-D'Nye-Jha Sharrieff-Hayward, Nikoloz Bulashvili, and Spencer Miranda.
Here is what Coach Penny had to say about the class:
"It has taken a lot of work to bring in a group of this quality. Countless hours on the phone, at the fields, in the freezing cold. However, it has been worth it to secure commitments from all these young men. The team now feels like my own and will allow me to get them to play the way we want to play. I can't speak highly enough of all these students. It was important to me to ensure that they all committed to Husson for the right reasons. Football is important but what they do with the rest of their lives is even more important. I can't wait to get started with whole the group and work toward accomplishing their academic and athletic goals".
Paxton Oversmith: Paxton is 6' 1" junior transfer hailing from Hampden, Maine. After playing a solid number of years for the varsity program at Hampden Academy, Paxton has been plying his talents at Dean College for the past 2 years. Paxton has decided to join the men's soccer program after realizing the potential he has to succeed both academically and athletically at Husson University. Paxton will pursue a business degree while adding his quality to the men's soccer program.
Coach Penny states, "Paxton has developed into quite the young lad. I worked with Paxton during his early years in the game and he has reaped the benefits of playing in some decent programs with good coaches. Paxton is solid! His build, stature, and physicality will help us tremendously and I'm looking forward to working with Paxton to help him become successful in his pursuits".
Michael Wong: Mike is making the small transition to us from the Winkin Complex where he has been a standout performer for Jason Harvey and his Baseball program here at Husson University. His athleticism and drive has seen Mike successfully compete for the varsity program at Lewiston high school prior to his time with the Husson baseball team. Mike is working toward his degree in physical therapy.
"From my conversations with Mike I can tell he is a very determined young man. He knows what he wants and what he needs to do to get there. Coach Harvey speaks very highly of Mike and what he can add, particularly in his athleticism. Mike will certainly compete and increase the level of the players around him. I'm excited to see what Mike can bring after taking a 2 year gap to focus on Baseball".
Nathan Firlings: Nate comes to the Husson men's soccer program after an extremely successful period in the soccer and basketball programs at Nonnewaug High School in Woodbury, Connecticut. A standout leader and multisport athlete, Nate has decided to focus his efforts in soccer while pursuing a degree in Secondary Education. Playing for his local club team Southbury FC, Nate has rounded up many accolades and been recognized for his achievements in New England. Nate will be pursuing a degree in education.
"I am excited that Nate decided to put his trust in me and our University to help him realize his ambitions. We worked hard to get Nate over the line as he had no shortage of admirers. Nate has performed tremendously well as a high school athlete and is well primed for the next level. Nate knows it will take a lot of work to replicate what he has managed to accomplish in high school and I'm excited to see what he will bring to table in preseason.
Alex Mooney: Teammates with Alvaro, Alex played his part in the John Bapst transformation last season. Alex was utilized as a central defender and did a stout job throughout the season protecting his goalkeeper. Off the field, Alex is majoring in health sciences.
Coach Penny says, "Mooney is a great kid. He has a fantastic personality who I'm sure will provide us all with a laugh or two. Mooney has proven his ability over the course of his high school career and much like Alvaro has developed tenfold under the guidance and leadership of Pete McDonnell. Moons certainly has courage and is fearless. I've seen him put in few tackles last year which proved to me that he is ready for the challenge and will work hard to push for a spot in the lineup".
Kyle Townsend: Kyle comes to Husson as a sophomore transfer from Maine Maritime Academy. Hailing from Hampden, Maine, Kyle has shown throughout his high school years that he is a capable of competing at the collegiate level. Quickly installed as first choice goalkeeper at MMA, Kyle proved he is able to compete in the NAC and deal with the pressure of being a first choice collegiate goalkeeper. During his time at Husson, Kyle will be majoring in business.
"Kyle is a solid keeper with a great set of hands. He had a couple of injuries last season which held him back somewhat but they are in the past now and I'm looking forward to getting him into training with Potts. After hearing Kyle's interest in Husson and his belief in our institution and program to help him excel both in the classroom and on the field, it was a no brainer for us. He has great ability and will push our other goalkeepers to be even better. I'm excited to see the competition between our goalkeepers this year. We have 4 of them and they all have quality".
Rafael Paganoni: Rafael arrived at Husson from Sao Paulo, Brazil, in January. Having played at a decent level in Brazil, Rafael came to the US seeking a place where he could develop his English, earn a pharmacy degree and play soccer.
"As soon as I see Rafa play I knew he was a real handful and somebody that would be a solid addition to our team. He has a great build and is very strong on the ball. Given that he is Brazilian he isn't afraid to show his samba heritage when he has the ball at his feet and has turned some of our players inside out in the spring. Rafa has settled in great which I hope will be a catalyst to what he is able to achieve in his first traditional season. He is also a great personality on the team and we all enjoy having him in our program".
Jahmal Williams: Jahmal played four years of high school soccer at Dover Foxcroft Academy and four years of club soccer before coming to Husson. While in the classroom, he will be focusing his schooling on a pre-pharmacy degree.
"After hearing of Jahmal's interest, Potts and I went to see Jahmal play. He is lightning fast and has a good pair of feet. Given his potential we knew other coaches would be interested and we moved fast to secure his commitment. Jahmal is a very driven young man who has a clear vision of what he wants to do in the future. It was evident to Jahmal from the very start that Husson would be the best place for him to accomplish his goals. I'm super excited to work with Jahmal and watch him mature into a solid college athlete".
Bryce Hayman: Bryce started four years of varsity soccer for Andrew Higgins at Gray-New Gloucester High School. A 2 year Captain finishing with 17 goals and 28 assists, he was named Southern Maine Class B All-Star Sophomore, Junior, and Senior year, Southern Maine State Team Senior year, and All-Conference Sophomore, Junior, and Senior year. Bryce is currently undecided.
"Bryce was very unfortunate to pick up his injury in the spring. He had only just given me his commitment a couple of weeks prior. He could have picked any school in Maine given that they were all interested but he chose Husson as he believes this is where he can succeed. Nonetheless, he is a personality and has some fantastic leadership qualities. He will fulfill the role of manager this season while he continues his rehab, however I am delighted that he chose us and we will have him back in the spring. He is a quality player with a great future ahead of him".
Richard Faria: Richard played three years of varsity soccer at Hicksville Highschool. He was named all conference during his time there. His focus of study will be in the field of biology.
"Ricky came all the way from Long Island for our ID camp which showed me the type of commitment and dedication he has. Ricky showed immediately that he is a solid defender who isn't afraid to get stuck in. There were some good players at that camp, all of which were unknown to Ricky, but he didn't look intimidated. In fact he made it seem like he wanted the challenge. He will compete with the back line for a spot in the starting XI and I think he has tremendous potential to earn one if he continues with the mentality we have seen from him".
Ahmed Abdelaziz: Ahmed comes to Husson as junior transfer. Arriving from Cairo, Egypt, Ahmed settled in Nashua, NH. For the past 2 seasons Ahmed was a part of the Daniel Webster College men's soccer team, including last season where they reached the 2nd round of the NCAA tournament. Looking to continue and finish his MBA degree, Ahmed put his trust in Coach Penny and Husson University to help him accomplish that.
"As soon as we were made aware that Ahmed was available and looking to continue playing soccer we made our move. Obviously with the players he was playing with at DWC and the experience he has gained as part of an NCAA tournament team, Ahmed will offer immediate leadership to our younger players. He is well primed and mature who I fully expect to be challenging for a starting spot immediately. Ahmed was one of the first members of this incoming class who we had spoken to and I'm eager to see what he can add to our group".
Jomei Bean-Lindo: Jomei was a 4 year varsity soccer player at Wilbraham Monson Academy. During his time in Bermuda, he was named a Bermuda National team player. Phyiscal Therapy will be his selected field of study.
"Jomei plays with the Bermudian swagger. He loves to the have the ball at his feet and distribute all over the place. He has an eye for goal and can pick a pass. Jomei is a driven young man who knew Husson was the right place for him to continue his efforts in both academics and athletics. He has a lot of work to do in order to accomplish his goals here and I know he is ready for the challenge. I'm excited to get to work with Jomei and help his dream become a reality".
Takyh-D'Nye-Jha Sharrieff-Hayward: D'Nye-Jha also comes to Husson from Devonshire, Bermuda. Having just finished his senior year playing at Washington Academy in East Machias, Maine, D'Nye-Jha will study Exercise Science. During his time at Washington Academy D'Nye-Jha was a solid contributor to the varsity soccer, outdoor track, and indoor track programs. He was an important part of two Maine State Champion Soccer teams and two consecutive undefeated seasons. He was also a member of the first ever 4x100 Maine State Champion outdoor track relay team. He was nominated team captain taking an active role of being a team leader. An ultimate team player, D'Nye-Jha selflessly contributed by playing out of position which he knew would benefit the team. D'Nye-Jha surprised many and exceeded expectations when signing up for a CNA course at WA and shadowed health professionals at local health facilities.
"D'Nye-Jha has a ton of qualities. Not only is he a great player but he has a genuine care for his academics and has a plan for his career post-graduation. Since the day we started talking about Husson, D'Nye-Jha knew that we could help him accomplish his goals. He has worked hard and made good choices as they pertain to his academics understanding the importance of his investment. Don't get me wrong I fully expect D'Nye-Jha to make a huge impact on our team and around the NAC but I also expect him to achieve success in the classroom and the community. I'm thankful that D'Nye-Jha put his trust in us and I'm looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together".
Nikoloz Bulashvili: Nokoloz will be studying pre-law during his time at Husson University.
"Nikoloz has tremendous experience playing both stateside and back home in his native Tbilisi, Georgia. He has played for some quality teams in Georgia and a consistent member of the Georgian national team since 2012. Nikoloz will be another solid addition who will compete with our 3 other quality goalkeepers for a starting position between the sticks. I'm very much looking forward to getting him into training with Potter and the lads and seeing how this competition for places plays out".
Spencer Miranda: Spencer was a four year starting varsity Soccer at Winslow High School. Class B North Champion and State Runner Up his senior year. He was named All-Conference twice and named 2017 Class B and Morning Sentinel Boys Soccer Player of the year while talling 16 goals and 25 assists. Spencer will be studying business.
"I'm excited to welcome Spencer aboard and happy that he has chosen us to help him continue his studies and football development. Spencer is a solid midfielder who is very creative on the ball and works hard off the ball. His high school team had a very successful season last fall and as soon as I see Spencer play I knew he would be an asset to our group. He might be coming in as a freshman but that won't bother Spencer. He is a driven, competitive young man who will work tirelessly to earn his spot in the starting XI. The sky is the limit for Spencer and I can't wait to see what he accomplishes through his time with us".
The Eagles finished out their 2016 season 9-7-2 overall and 6-2-1 in the conference. Penny will enter his second season as head coach of the Husson men's soccer team. The three-time North Atlantic Conference (NAC) champions will kick off their 56th season at Saint Joseph's (Maine) on Friday, September 1st.