Valparaiso University head men’s soccer coach Mike Avery introduced a six member recruiting class today that will help the Crusaders build on the momentum of back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in program history. Valparaiso is coming off a 9-8-2 campaign in 2010, and Avery’s squad has posted an impressive 19-15-6 mark in the past two seasons.
National Letter of Intent signees Jordan Aidoud (L’isleD’abeau, France), Diego Calix (Canoga Park, Calif.), and Zev Taublieb (Malibu, Calif.) bring high level club and some international flair to the program, while talented standouts Charlie Giovenco (Deer Park, Ill.) and Brock Taulbee (Auburn, Ind.) have accepted Valparaiso’s offer of admission to join the Crusaders, further demonstrating that Valpo soccer is continuing to make a name in the Midwest region. Transfer Jordan Lewis (Chesterton, Ind.) adds the final touch of experience and additional local flavor as he returns home as a transfer from Loyola.
“This is a very, very good recruiting class for us,” said Avery. “We lost eight players from last year’s squad, and it was a graduating group that accomplished a lot of significant milestones for the program. This recruiting class will help us as we plug some immediate holes, and simultaneously allow us to build and plan for the future. We’ll add a few other key recruits to the 2011 team in the next few weeks, and I have to admit that I am very excited by what we have been able to put together.”
Aidoud, a 6’1” midfielder, currently attends Lycée le pré Saint Sauveur in St. Claude, France. Coming from a region in France with top international soccer clubs, Aidoud has considerable experience in highly competitive tournaments hosted by Manchester United, Arsenal, Paris St Germain, Bordeaux, and AC Milan. Earlier in his career, Aidoud was a member of the Olympique Lyonnais youth system, with which he won several championships. Most recently, Aidoud has played in the French U17 championship with JaraSud Foot. To the Crusader program, Jordan brings significant international experience as well as a passion for the game which began at an early age.
“Jordan has all the tools to be the complete package as a player,” said Avery. “Most importantly, he is a high character person, and he fits with our current team in that regard. Jordan is also a gifted athlete, and as a young man, he is still just coming into his own physically. He has tremendous experience and a strong soccer background (his father, Farid Aidoud, is a former professional player in France), and Jordan plays with creativity and intelligence. His technical ability is very high and he has the soccer IQ to go along with it. As Jordan adapts to the pace and physical nature of college soccer, I think he could become a very special player for us.”
“Coach Avery is a key figure in my decision to join the Crusaders,” said Aidoud. “His desire to have me on his team, his confidence in me, and his sporting project and its philosophy are the decisive elements. I’m very happy to join him and start a new great adventure. I’m happy and proud to become a Crusader and I really want to reach the NCAA tournament with Valpo. The University has a human scale which is an important thing for me, in addition to being located in a lovely town.”
Calix is a 5’9” versatile midfielder out of the Santa Rosa Valley in El Salvador via Oaks Christian H.S. in Westlake Village, Calif. Calix has been a member of Nejapa FC and Alianza FC reserve squads in his native country. A member of the El Salvador Youth National Team program, Calix has been a featured player in the U17 and U20 El Salvador National Teams. To pursue his academic goals, Calix came to the United States in 2009, where he has played two years at Oaks Christian and led the Lions to an undefeated season and a Tri Valley League Championship in 2010. During that season, Calix contributed 22 goals and 9 assists and was subsequently named Team MVP, Offensive MVP, and league Offensive MVP while also earning a spot on the Ventura All-County All Star First Team. Nominated for Gatorade State Player of the Year and All-CIF Team Selection, Calix has also had success in the club environment, helping lead the Eagles FC U19 to their first National Cup appearance in club history. Named the LA Daily News “#1 Player to Watch for the 2010-2011 Season” and listed in TopDrawerSoccer.com “Players to Watch for 2011”, he is also a two-year Lion Scholar in Soccer and Football and carries a 3.78 GPA.
“Diego is a very talented attacking player that brings a lot of versatility and the constant threat of the ‘special moment’ that can change the course of a game,” said Avery. “He can play in any of the attacking positions on the field and the game will always find its way through him. His experience with the El Salvador youth teams is invaluable, and hopefully we can help push him towards his goal of one day playing for their full national team side. Diego is a thoughtful, intelligent and well-spoken individual that really appreciates the opportunity to combine a first class education with a great soccer experience. He is a great fit for us on many levels.”
“I chose Valparaiso University because it just felt right when I visited its beautiful campus,” said Calix. “It has an outstanding soccer program, and I trust the coaching staff and the players on the team. Coach Avery has developed a family in the soccer program that I would love to be a part of, and it will be the perfect place for me to continue to develop my soccer career with success and continue to grow as an individual.”
Taublieb is a 5’6” midfielder out of Agoura H.S. in Agoura Hills, Calif. Named captain of his team, he completed his high school career as team MVP and Most Inspirational Player. Every year since the age of fourteen, Taublieb has been invited to train with the youth program at Fulham FC in England where he has competed with some of the best players in the Fulham youth system. Outside of high school play, Taublieb is the starting central midfielder with the Cosmos West U18 Academy. Taublieb has also earned recognition as the youngest player ever to play in the Coast Soccer League, as he played on the DMS11 National Championship U19 team when he was only 14 years old.
“Anyone who spends five minutes with Zev would understand why I am so excited that he is joining our program,” said Avery. “We have tried to build this program with three pillars in mind: Gifted Players, Talented Students, and High-Character People. Zev exudes all three. He is a very technical player that understands how to make an impact on every game situation. Zev has benefitted from the soccer rich environment in Southern California, as well as through his forays to England every summer to spend time at Fulham. He is one of those rare young men that can recognize exactly who he is and what he wants, and it is beyond me to bet against him as he chases his dreams. Zev is a winner, and we are excited to bring him into our family.”
“Valparaiso University is known for more than its beautiful campus and academic excellence, it is world renowned for its commitment to the development of each student's passion and for graduating students who are prepared to become productive and successful, and who care about the world in which we live,” said Taublieb. “I am passionate about soccer, and when I met the soccer team members they shared the same passion while expressing tremendous respect and adoration for their Valpo coaches. I know Valpo is the best fit for me given the extensive catalogue of classes where I will be able to study whatever I wish and become an expert in whatever subject I decide to major in. People who go to Valparaiso make a difference in the world we live in. I want to be a person who changes the world for the better.”
Rated #18 in Top Drawer Soccer’s Midwest regional ranking for 2011 soccer recruits, Giovenco is a 5’11” right back/midfielder from Barrington High School in Barrington, Ill. Giovenco has a strong family connection to Valparaiso University, and Charlie’s cousin, John Giovenco, is a member of the Valparaiso football team. In his senior season at Barrington, Giovenco was selected to the Daily Herald News All-Area Team, the IHSA Sectional Team, and the All-Conference Team. With the Chicago Sockers FC Academy, Giovenco started 32 of 33 games as a defender and helped contribute to the squad’s 0.70 GAA during that season. Currently, his U18 Sockers FC Academy team is ranked 1st in the nation according to TopDrawerSoccer.com ratings. A member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the National Society of High School Scholars, Giovenco will contribute in a great way not only to the Valpo men’s soccer program but also to the campus community as a whole.
“Charlie is another excellent addition to our squad,” said Avery. “We have followed him closely over the last few years, and have grown very fond of Charlie and his family. Charlie is a player with a tremendous amount of potential. He has a strong soccer pedigree and has received great training with the Sockers academy side. Charlie plays in the back, but ultimately he is a player that helps us keep the ball. He is sharp with his decisions, and he backs it all up with tremendous work rate. Charlie is a great pick up for our team, and he has a bright future in our program.”
“The reason why I chose Valparaiso University is not just because of the great coaching staff and D-I program, but also because of many things that go into finding the perfect university,” said Giovenco. “I was always attracted to Valparaiso, not only for soccer but for the great academics, campus, and the fact that the university is close to my home. I am excited to be given this opportunity and plan on working hard to continue to help the team succeed.”
Continuing Valpo’s tradition of bringing in top in-state talent, Taulbee is a 6’6” goalkeeper from Lakewood Park Christian H.S. in Auburn, Ind. As a four-year starter, Taulbee played every minute of every match in between the posts. Over his high school career, he compiled a school-record 33 shutouts and earned four varsity letters. In 2010, he set school records for single-season shutouts (12) and lowest GAA (0.37) while leading his team to the Regional Finals. Named twice to the KPC All-Area Team and team captain, Taulbee brings a wealth of athletic ability and leadership qualities to the Crusader squad.
“When you’ve been blessed with some of the best goalkeeping in college soccer, as we have been with Ryan Schwarz and will be again next fall with Kyle Zobeck, we set a pretty high standard in looking at future goalkeepers,” said Avery. “Brock has met every expectation we have for the position, and I am convinced that he will be a significant addition to our future successes. He jumps into a pretty deep pool of returning players at his position, but we expect Brock will be up for the challenge. If he can stay both persistent and patient, his future could be very bright. All the ingredients are there, and assistant coach Jeff Oleck is a fantastic goalkeeper trainer.”
“I am extremely proud to officially join the Valparaiso soccer program and their pursuit of an NCAA Division I National Championship,” said Taulbee. “I am very excited to begin my collegiate soccer training under such a quality coaching staff, as well as play and compete with some of the top talent in the country.”
Lewis returns to familiar ground as the 5’11” defender joins the Crusaders as a transfer from fellow Horizon League member Loyola. With the Ramblers, Lewis started 28 out of the 29 matches in which he appeared in 2008 and 2009 before sitting out 2010 due to injury, helping lead the 2008 squad to the Horizon League title and an NCAA Tournament berth. Lewis is a familiar name to the area soccer fans as the Chesterton H.S. alum had a stellar career for the Trojans. A two-time NWI Times player of the year selection (2006, 2007), and the Post-Tribune Player of the Year in 2007, Lewis was a two time MVP for Chesterton and holds school career records for assists and points. Lewis was a First Team All-State selection as a senior, and a three-time All-Conference and two-time team MVP honoree. Lewis enrolled in classes at Valparaiso in January.
“I am really happy that Jordan has decided to finish his college career with us,” said Avery. “I have known him for a long time and have always believed that he is stock full of potential and has a massive upside as a player. Jordan is a natural athlete, and once he regains his fitness I think he is going to shine. His experience in college soccer gives him a strong foundation, and his knowledge of the league is an added bonus. He is tough, smart, and very capable technically. He’s been training for a few weeks with us already, and every day you can see a bit of the rust getting knocked off, and he is quickly rounding into form. Adding a seasoned veteran into your team, and especially one that fits us as Jordan does, is always a real positive.”
“I came to Valparaiso University not only for their excellent academic program, but also to be part of the excellent soccer environment,” said Lewis. “It’s nice to be home to play in front of family and friends, and to be a part of a soccer family where the team success matters more than the success of each individual. The players here respect each other and the coaching staff, and they play with a passion to work for what they desire.”
“A lot of people put in a lot of hours to make this class possible,” concluded Avery. “I want to congratulate my staff and our current players for an outstanding effort. We also need to thank the Valparaiso University community: admissions, financial aid, compliance, international students – virtually in every office we stopped in along the way, we received a tremendous boost from a lot of people that don’t get enough credit. Valparaiso is a welcoming community, and that fact really rang true during this process.”