Valparaiso men’s soccer head coach Mike Avery introduced five student-athletes today who have accepted Valparaiso’s University’s offer of admission and will join the Crusaders for the upcoming 2011 campaign. With eleven total additions to date, Avery’s Crusader squad has added significant depth and talent to the roster of a team coming off back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in program history.
“We are excited by each and every one of these players, and we welcome them into our soccer family,” said Avery. “This group is comprised not only of talented soccer student-athletes, but also young men with tremendous character. Whether they go straight into our varsity team, or if they spend time developing in our reserve program, I do know that each has the potential to play a major part in our future. A few may even have that chance very early in their careers. My staff and I are excited to work with this group, and to watch them develop and contribute.”
Michael Granitz (Goshen, Ind./Concord H.S.)
Granitz, a 5’9” midfielder, has developed into a mainstay on the pitch for the Minutemen over his high school career, earning First Team All-Conference, Midfield MVP, and Team Captain honors his Junior and Senior years. Off the high school field, Granitz has been a three-year starter and captain for the Indiana ODP State team, which most recently won the regional tournament and placed third in the nation. Granitz, a member of Indiana Invaders FC, joins Brendan Roth, Kelvin Zelee, Chadd Sult, Todd Vervynckt and Ben Burnett as Invaders alumni who have contributed and continue to make considerable contributions to the Crusader squad.
“I have known Michael for many years, and it has been a real pleasure to see how he has matured on the soccer field,” said Avery. “He has had the benefit of great training from Chad Riley (Notre Dame Assistant/FC Indiana) and from Shawn McCuen at Concord. Both of Michael’s coaches played for me as college players and both agree that Michael is the kind of player I will really enjoy having in my team. He has an unbelievable work rate and his dedication to the game is second to none. With his foundation, there is no telling how high Michael’s ceiling might be.”
“I chose Valpo for two primary reasons,” said Granitz. “First is the soccer program. Coach Avery and the other coaches are great, and through club soccer I know several players on the current team. There seems to be a great chemistry between the players and they all seem focused on working hard to achieve the team's goals. Second is the school itself, with high academic standards within a Christian environment. They also offer an Exercise Science degree, which is exactly what I wanted to study.”
Doug Petersen (Crown Point, Ind./Lake Central H.S.)
Adding to their list of local talent, Petersen joins the Crusaders as a 6’0” defender from nearby Lake Central H.S. Most recently part of the 2010 IHSAA State Championship team, Petersen has been a regular on the back line as the Indians achieved the highest level of competition in the high school ranks. A four-year varsity letter winner, Petersen earned All-Conference, All-District, All-Area honors while being selected by coaches and teammates as the two-time Defensive MVP for Lake Central. As a club soccer player, Doug has been a regular with the Indiana Magic team.
“It is important for us to be in the conversation for the best local players, and getting another top player off of Coach Jereme Rainwater’s Lake Central team is a real win for us – especially since Doug is such a great all-around fit for Valparaiso,” said Avery. “Doug is an athletic, hard-nosed, tough and tenacious defender. He has all the physical tools to develop into a contributing defender for us, and he is a very intelligent player that plays to his strengths. He is a tremendous student as well, so his decision to join our team is something that we are very happy to announce.”
“I chose Valpo because it has a nice campus, offers a good education, and has a well-coached soccer program,” said Petersen. “I am excited to play close to home and in front of my friends and family, and Valpo has a great academic program in my future field, so it was always my top choice.”
Nick Suker (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove South H.S.)
Suker is a 6’0” midfielder out of Downers Grove, Ill. who has earned considerable recognition in both his high school and club careers. While representing the Mustangs, Suker was named Team MVP after leading the squad in goals and points in 2010. Suker has also received All-Academic honors from both the West Suburban Conference and the IHSA in 2009 and 2010. Coming off of a record season in 2010, he was named to the Chicago Sun-Times All-Area Second Team, Daily Herald DuPage Area Team, and Downers Grove Reporter All Athletic Team. A six year starter for the Chicago Magic, Suker was a member of the U15/U16 Academy and is currently on roster with the U18 Academy team.
“Nick is a very good addition to our team,” said Avery. “He has a great background coming out of the Chicago Magic Academy. He plays under Raul Diaz Arce, and previously under Sole Antonijevic (father of junior midfielder Stefan Antonijevic), who are two coaches that value possession and teach the game the right way. Nick’s preparation for the college game, and the way we want to play the game at Valparaiso, is exceptional. Nick has a good engine, can cover a lot of ground, and can connect the dots in possession. His ability and his versatility remind me a lot of Kevin Miller, who currently starts in the middle of the field for us, and I think Nick’s got a lot of the same high-end characteristics.”
“When I started my college search, I knew I wanted to stay in the Midwest and be close to my family,” said Suker. “I also wanted to play for a soccer team that showed great character and was lead by a great coach. When I met Coach Avery and saw the Valpo campus, it all sort of clicked for me. I wanted to be a part of the soccer family that Coach Avery has created and I am excited to be a Crusader. I hope that my contributions will help lead the team to a Horizon League championship and much more.”
Jacob Unger (Apex, N.C./Middle Creek H.S.)
The brother of former Valpo men’s soccer player Jason Unger, Jacob Unger will be following in the footsteps of several Valpo alumni in recent years. A 6’1” versatile defender, Unger has taken on key roles on both his high school and club teams. The four-year starter and captain of the Mustangs' squad has earned First Team All-Conference, First Team All-Region, and Team MVP awards in his successful prep career. As a member of the highly regarded Capital Area Soccer League (CASL) club, Unger anchored the back line as his team captured the North Carolina State Cup title in 2010.
“Jacob is a player that exudes upside when you watch him play,” said Avery. “He is a very bright, intelligent and character-driven kid that is mature beyond his years. He is a gifted athlete with size, strength and pace. He is also a very good soccer player that has technical quality and makes good decisions. Jacob has a strong connection to the school through other members of his family, and I couldn’t be more excited that it worked out for him to join us and carry on that family tradition.”
“With some of my close family doubling as Valpo alumni, I have known about the University's prestigious academics for some time,” said Unger. “Then after visiting campus, learning more about the staff's commitment to excellence and the team's dedication to constant improvement, the decision became simple.”
Zane Wold (Woodbury, Minn./Mounds Park Academy)
A 5’9” central midfielder out of Mounds Park Academy, Wold brings with him a tradition of both individual and team success which he has achieved in both the prep and club levels. In the 2010 season at Mounds Park, Wold collected a multitude of awards, as he was named to the First Team All-State squad, as well as earning a spot on the Star Tribune All-Metro Team and All-Conference Team. Wold also was the recipient of the “Kare 11 Athlete of the Week” honor and was named Offensive MVP by his coaches and teammates after totaling 39 goals and 26 assists on the season. A member of the Minnesota Thunder USSF Developmental Academy, Wold comes to Valparaiso with proven experience in high-level environments against top competition.
“Zane caught my eye as a player initially because he is very gifted technically,” said Avery. “His first touch and his overall comfort level on the ball are traits that will serve him well in college. He is a creative player that can break open the game, and he has the ability to both create his own space as well as play others into the game. As Zane adapts to the speed of the game, and adds some bite to his defending, I think he could move pretty quickly up the ranks within our program.”
“I picked Valparaiso because I felt very comfortable the second I stepped on campus and very confident on the soccer field,” said Wold. “It's something I haven't felt at any other school or college soccer camp. The players and coaches have created a family atmosphere that I am eager to join.”