Valparaiso men’s soccer head coach Mike Avery announced today that Jaymie Bullard, Connor Cappelletti, Sam Haines, and Jonathon Smith will all join the Crusader side for the 2009 season.
“We lost a large group from the 2008 squad – guys who played a lot of the minutes in their time at Valparaiso – so there was some pressure for my staff to put together a recruiting class capable of stepping into some pretty big shoes,” said Avery. “I am very happy to say that 2009 has been a tremendous recruiting year for us. We have found players that can help us elevate to new levels of competition, and, most importantly, we have found people that are in the right place and at the right time for this team and this university.”
Bullard, a 5’11” midfielder/forward from Naperville, Ill. (Neuqua Valley H.S./Ajax Soccer Club), earned IHSSCA All-Sectional honors as a senior and was named to the Naperville Sun Honor Roll. An All-Conference and Academic All-Conference selection, he also served as team captain for the Wildcats.
“Jaymie is a great addition to our program,” said Avery. “He is a terrific athlete, and a talented attacking player with great mobility, vision and versatility. He can play in the midfield or up closer to the goal, and wherever he plays the game seems to find him and run through him. He was at our VIP camp last summer, and my staff and I really fell in love with the idea of Jaymie playing for us someday – Jaymie was highly recruited by a lot of top programs and we are thrilled it has worked out to have him with us.”
Cappelletti, a 6’2” defender from Madison, Ala. (Wallace State [Ala.] C.C.), was a two-time NJCAA All-Region selection on the back line. He helped guide Wallace State to a 15-3-0 record in 2008 while serving as team captain. As a senior at Bob Jones H.S., Cappelletti scored 15 goals and was named team MVP.
“Conner is an important piece to this year’s recruiting class in that he fills a very specific need in the team (due to the loss of four year starting central defender Andrew Stewart),” said Avery. “Conner is an elite level athlete that has really come into his own as a soccer player. He has the athletic ability to shut down the most dangerous opponents, has a great presence in the air, and is technical enough to connect as we build out of the back. His maturity and experience at Wallace State, where he not only faced a lot of talented attackers, but won most of those one versus one battles, should serve him well as he steps into our back line.”
Haines, a 6’1” striker from McKinney, Texas (McKinney Boyd H.S./Andromeda Soccer Club), earned the Golden Boot award while leading Andromeda to the 2008 USYSA U17 national title. A three-year varsity captain, he has scored seven goals in 11 games this season to date and was named region Sophomore of the Year in 2007. A Dallas Cup Super Group selection this year, Haines played with SV Lohhof in the top youth league in Munich, Germany in 2005 and 2006.
“It is a big step for our program to grab not one, but two, players off the best club team in the country,” said Avery. “Sam’s experience with the Andromeda Soccer Club, and the important role he played in winning the Golden Boot Award (most goals) during Andromeda’s national championship run, speaks highly of the potential he has coming in to Valparaiso. Sam is built for the Division 1 game – strong and powerful – and he has great sense of how to play in the penalty box. We were able to build a good relationship with him at our VIP camp, and it is clear that Sam is a great fit for us and where we are heading with this team.”
Smith, a 6’0” defender from McKinney, Texas (McKinney H.S./Andromeda Soccer Club), joined Haines on the national championship side with Andromeda in 2008, starting on the back line. Also a 2009 Dallas Cup Super Group selection, he has scored 11 goals and dished out six assists this year while leading his high school squad to a 13-2-0 record to date this season.
“Jonathon is an exciting addition for us,” said Avery. “He is a tough and tenacious defender, but also one that attacks and connects very well going forward. He has a great mind for the game, and you can tell he has been coached very well in his Andromeda club environment. His father, Daryl, also played Division 1 soccer (Evansville), so good soccer runs in the family. Jonathon was a key component to Andromeda’s national championship team, and with that experience, a confidence and a strong mentality is developed that will be called on as we seek to reach similar goals here at Valparaiso. I expect Jonathon will challenge immediately for a prominent role in the team.”
“We talk a lot about “fit” in the college recruiting process, and it was a term we used as a staff quite a bit during this process,” concluded Avery. “At Valparaiso, we look at the term “fit” as an acronym for Finding the Ideal Teammate, and with each one of the players we introduce today to our fans, I think the F.I.T. component is perfect. Talented players, high achievers in the classroom and on the field, and character driven individuals – these are the qualities we sought, and that is exactly what we found.”The Crusaders expect to announce more additions, joining today’s quartet, to the 2009 roster in the next couple weeks.