In a group that features one high-profile transfer, and four talented incoming freshmen, Valparaiso head coach Mike Avery announced today that five more players have committed to the men’s soccer program for the 2012 season. The five newest additions are transfer Jesse Ortiz (Aurora, Ill./Benedictine University) and incoming freshmen Ty Unger (Apex, N.C./Middle Creek), Nicholas Kane (Cleveland, Ohio/Mayfield), Alex Lindsey (East Lansing, Mich./East Lansing), and Bernard Tume (Temecula, Calif./Chaparral).
“As a stand-alone group, this group of five players is a very solid group that has great potential to contribute to our team,” said Avery. “When you add this group to the five we already announced, though, you can understand why we are so excited for the future of our program. Within these five players, we have some maturity and college experience in our one transfer addition, some US Soccer Development Academy players that are playing at the highest level day in and day out with their respective clubs, and three players who have been a part of our VIP camp program. We know these players well and I am confident that we have helped our program grow, on and off the field, with this announcement today.”
Ortiz joins the Valpo program after playing for two years at Benedictine University in Lisle, Ill. In his first year playing with the Eagles, he was honored as the Northern Athletics Conference Freshman of the Year. This past season, Ortiz took home the NAC Offensive Player of the Year award while also being named a First Team All-Conference honoree. Before joining the Benedictine roster, Ortiz was a highly recruited player with the Chicago Magic 91/92 Academy Team and then with the Chicago Fire Academy. In 2011 alone, Ortiz was named the U-19 USYS Golden Ball Award Winner (most goals scored in the national championship tournament) while leading his Fire team to a runner up finish in the national championship in Phoenix. Ortiz has traveled to Spain, France, Italy and Germany with various ODP regional teams, and was an adidas ESP participant in 2008.
Ortiz cited his desire to be a part of a NCAA Division I program and the team’s environment as important factors in his decision to join the team. “While making my decision to commit to Valparaiso University, I thought of the expectations that I would want to be met when transferring to a Division I university, and Valpo was the school that I felt fulfilled those,” Ortiz said. “I felt that Valpo was the right place for me, being a small campus and a nice environment where I would easily fit in and continue my education as well as my soccer career. The Valpo soccer program seemed very organized with support coming from behind the team. To be a successful team, all players need to see eye-to-eye and want more than to be a good team, but a great team that works hard every practice to become better. I feel the soccer team at Valpo exceeds these expectations and I am excited to join the program.”
“Jesse is a tremendous addition to our team,” said Avery. “As a high school senior, Jesse was a very highly regarded prospect coming out of West Aurora H.S. and the Chicago club soccer scene. For family reasons, Jesse decided to stay home for college, and his two years at Benedictine were successful for both him and for the Benedictine program. Jesse is a very creative attacking player that makes good things happen in the final third. Whether he is scoring a goal himself or playing a decisive pass to create a scoring chance, the game always finds Jesse and he makes very few mistakes with his touches. Most importantly, Jesse is a young man with great character and determination, and he will be a great presence on the field and in the locker room.”
Unger continues a long line of family connections with the Crusader soccer program. Younger brother of former Valpo player Jason (class of 2007) and current player Jacob (class of 2015), he maintains a solid legacy which started several years ago. Unger, the team captain for his Middle Creek squad, earned First Team All-Conference and Academic All-Conference accolades while being named to the All-Region First Team. Voted Team MVP for the Mustangs, he led the team in goals and assists in his senior season. With his club team, CASL Elite, he was part of a team which won the North Carolina State Championship, took home the trophy at the Disney Showcase, and earned third place in the 3v3 National Championship.
Unger credits much of his decision with the legacy his family has created at Valparaiso University, but also acknowledges the rising trend of the Valpo men’s soccer program as a factor in his commitment. “I have a lot of family connection with Valparaiso, so I am really familiar and comfortable with the program,” Unger said. “Also, I am extremely impressed with the progress of the program over the last few years and I am honored to be a part of it.”
“We are thrilled to add another of the Unger family to our team in 2012,” said Avery. “As many younger brothers tend to be, Ty is a tough and competitive player. He has all the athletic tools to compete at this level, is a very intelligent young man that makes great decisions with the ball, and has the technical foundation that we value in our team. Ty obviously knows the program and the university well through his family connections, our strengths and our challenges, so it is especially gratifying to have him decide to join us. Ty is a complete student-athlete and he fits us very well.”
Kane brings a variety of soccer experience to the Crusaders program. Named First Team All-County, First Team All-Conference, and First Team All-Area in his senior year, he was also recognized as a Second Team All-State member. Kane, who was one of 11 players in the Cleveland area who earned the First Team Plain Dealer All-Star Award, has had success on and off the field and was acknowledged as a Scholar Athlete for the Mayfield Wildcats. A member of the Internationals USSF Developmental Academy, he was a part of the team which placed fifth in the national tournament.
Kane first experienced the Valpo campus through the Annual VIP Camp, and grew to embrace the program philosophy and built a connection with the coaching staff and players, a big factor in his decision. “I chose Valparaiso over other universities for many reasons”, Kane said. “For example, when I visited and interacted with the current players at Valpo, the atmosphere and attitude of the players and coaches fit my personality unlike any other schools. I was able to make an exceptional connection with the players and coaching staff on my visit and I am looking forward to what coaches Avery and Oleck have planned for the team this coming season.”
“Nick was first identified at one of our VIP camps, and his performance on the field immediately stood out,” said Avery. “He is a very busy midfield player that covers a lot of ground and connects the game. He has a good foundation from his experience with the Cleveland Internationals, and I think his qualities translate well to the college game and how we try to play at Valparaiso. Off the field, there is no question that Nick is a great fit for the university and our team as well. Nick has great potential and I expect he will make the most out of this opportunity.”
Lindsey has been a starter for the Trojans over the last two successful years of the program. He was a part of the team which earned a berth into the district finals and a CAAC Blue Championship in 2011. Individually, he was recognized as a Lansing State Journal All-Area Team Honorable Mention, Academic All-State, and Academic All-Conference. In the off-season, Lindsey has played with TNT Dynamite over the last six years and has led the team to the 2011 Premier I Division Championship and the Crossroads of America Showcase Division Championship.
Lindsey, who first experienced Valpo at the program’s VIP Camp, learned much about the Valpo men’s soccer program through his interaction with the team and coaching staff. “I chose Valpo because I felt comfortable there,” said Lindsey. “I enjoyed the players and the coaches. I think that they have great relationships which help the players grown both as athletes and as people. I also like the sense of community that exists at Valpo.”
“Alex already is a success story for us,” said Avery. “We have seen him quite a bit over the years at camp, and every time we watch him it is clear that he is really coming into his own as a player. He is a hard-working, humble, coachable, and disciplined player that has his best soccer ahead of him. Character counts for us, and Alex is a player that epitomizes the values we hold true within our program. I believe he can continue to develop into a contributing player on the field, but I know that he will contribute to the overall program in many ways from the day he first steps on campus.”
Tume helped the Pumas to a second place finish in the competitive California Southwestern League and a subsequent opportunity to participate in the CIF playoffs. Prior to moving to California, Tume played with the Minnesota Thunder Academy and was a co-captain in 2010 when they won the MRL First Division Championship. Since moving to California, he has joined Arsenal FC Southern California as a full time player and also earned a Developmental Player roster spot with the Arsenal FC U17/18 USSF Developmental Academy team. With Arsenal FC, Tume was the 2011 season leader in assists.
Tume, the second California player to join VU men’s soccer in the last two years, credits Valparaiso University’s academic and athletic reputation as reasons for his decision. “I knew Valparaiso was the right place for me to spend the next four years, and maybe even three more, due to the quality of its academics and its soccer program,” Tume said. “I plan on studying business and eventually pursuing a law degree. Given everything that Valparaiso has to offer, the decision to become a Crusader has been a no-brainer. Also, my communication with the coaches always left me feeling that they genuinely care about the success of their players on the field and in the classroom, which also meant a lot to my parents.”
“Though Bernard came onto our radar a little late in the recruiting process, it became apparent very quickly that he was a great fit for our team,” said Avery. “Coming out of the very competitive hot-bed of club soccer in Southern California, Bernard’s experience with Arsenal has been beneficial to him. I like his versatility and his ability to play in a lot of different places on the field for us. Bernard is a focused student-athlete with very clear goals in both the academic and athletic areas. Bernard’s character fits our program very well and I think he is going to shine in his time at Valparaiso.”