Monday, February 15, 2010Valparaiso University head men’s soccer coach Mike Avery announced today the addition of four student-athletes set to join the Crusaders for the fall 2010 season. These four incoming freshmen will accompany four players who were introduced on February 3rd. The newest additions to the Crusader men’s soccer roster are high school seniors Charles Barden, Ben Burnett, Michael Chwistek and Fabian Urquiza.
“This group represents a tremendous boost to our recruiting class for 2010,” said Avery. “All four of these young men are model student-athletes as they have excelled in the classroom and on the field, so they are ideal in terms of their fit for our program. We are also proud to say that these four are also products of our VIP camp. Through the VIP we were able to build personal relationships with them, and we were able to get a really clear picture of their soccer abilities in relation to how we coach and how our team plays. I’m very confident that all in this group will have successful careers in a Crusader uniform.”
Barden, a native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa (Linn-Mar H.S./CRSA/Eastern Iowa United) will lift the Crusaders through the midfield with his strong presence and hard working attitude. The first Linn-Mar student-athlete in the soccer team’s 25-year history to sign with a NCAA Division I soccer program, Barden has collected various accolades through his high school career. In his sophomore year, Barden was named First Team All-Metro, First Team All-Conference, and rookie of the year for Linn-Mar, and was also selected as team MVP. His success on the field continued into his junior year, when he was named Second Team All-State and again recognized as team MVP. Iowa high school soccer is a spring sport, and Barden will be looking to again lead coach Corey Brinkmeyer’s team to a successful season in the coming months. Outside of his high school soccer program, Barden has been an integral part of the Iowa Olympic Development Program (ODP) as a starting midfielder. He was selected to the ODP program for five consecutive years and has been a mainstay for his CRSA club where he has been a teammate of current Crusader sophomore Kyle Zobeck.
“Charles is a very good soccer player that is both technical and in possession of a great engine,” said Avery. “He makes great decisions, connects well, and can run all day long. He is a player with a lot of versatile qualities, and he has received great training from Shawn Howe and the coaches at CRSA, and now with Eastern Iowa United. Charles has twice been to our VIP camp, and I am thrilled that he has agreed to join us.”
A versatile defender is also added to the roster in Burnett, a native of South Bend, Ind. (Clay H.S./Indiana Invaders). Burnett has been an anchor in the Clay defense for the duration of his high school campaign and has led the Colonials to three consecutive IHSAA Sectional Championships from 2007-2009. A team captain, he was named Second Team All-Conference each of his last two seasons as well as Second Team All-District and team MVP as a senior. Burnett also continues to compete at a high level with the Indiana Invaders FC. For the Invaders, Burnett has been selected by his coach and teammates as team captain in the 2009 and upcoming 2010 season. Off the field, Ben brings a tremendous academic background to the ValparaisoUniversity campus as he was recognized in 2008 and 2009 as an Academic All-State award winner and is currently a member of National Honor Society.
“I have known Ben for many years, starting back when I lived in the South Bend area as an assistant at Notre Dame and was active in youth soccer in that area,” said Avery. “I have kept an eye on Ben for a long time, and he has turned out to be as good as I thought he would be. He is in a great club environment with the Invaders under Notre Dame assistant coach Chad Riley, and he brings to us a solid understanding of how to play in a system very similar to ours. This will help his transition to college soccer, and I am excited to watch his further growth here at Valparaiso.”
Another VIP alum who joins the Crusader program this year is Chwistek, an athletic wide player from Streamwood, Ill. (Streamwood H.S./Chicago Fire Juniors) and the strong Chicagoland soccer scene. A four-year varsity player for coach Matt Polovin at Streamwood, Chwistek was twice an Upstate Eight All-Conference honoree for the Sabres. Chwistek was also the team’s captain leading the defense from the sweeper position. Coming late to the club soccer scene in Chicago, Chwistek earned a spot in the Chicago Fire U18 Development Academy pool, and played a key role in the Chicago Fire Juniors state cup and Region II finals appearances.
“Michael is a really exciting prospect for us as he exudes athletic potential,” said Avery. “He is a big and powerful kid that has great speed, and possesses a great touch on the ball. Playing in the men’s leagues around Chicago as a young kid, Michael has some toughness to him that we like. He is currently getting some terrific training and experience in the Chicago Fire youth set-up, and playing under the Fire’s coaching staff and within a pool of high level players, he is developing very quickly. I think Michael will be a great addition as an attacking fullback or a wide midfield player.”
The last addition of this group is a local talent in Urquiza, a native of Dyer, Ind. (Lake Central H.S./Indiana Magic SC). Urquiza will bring speed, creativity, and size to the Crusaders’ frontrunners as well as considerable experience playing in high pressure environments. Urquiza was part of four IHSAA Sectional Championships, two Regional Championships, one Semi-State Championship, and one Final Four appearance with the Indians. The four-year letterwinner was named 2006 Rookie of the Year and was an All-Area honorable mention from the NWI Times. In addition to his high school accolades, Urquiza has accumulated a wealth of high-level competitive experience as a five year member of the Indiana Olympic Development team. With Indiana ODP, he was 2007 and 2008 Regional Champion, 2008 and 2009 National Champion, and was named captain of the 2009 Indiana ODP State team. In the club environment, Fabian was a 2004 U.S. Club Soccer Regional Champion and a National Finalist and a 2009 Region II President’s Cup Champion. Most recently, Urquiza was a member of the select group of players who won the 2009 Upper90.com Indoor Championship in Philadelphia, Pa.
“I saw Fabian first with his Indiana Magic team, and then again at our VIP camp last summer,” said Avery. “He has a lot of tools, and I think Fabian could become a very good college player. He is a big athlete at about 6’3”, but he has great feet and a soft touch. Fabian is very passionate about soccer, which is a huge positive, and when he learns to effectively channel that passion and fire into positive energy, he could really be a force on the field. Fabian was instrumental in Lake Central’s run to the high school state championship weekend, and I think he has the potential to do some great things here at Valparaiso as well.”
This quartet of players joins the four players (Lior Avisror, Eppokrates Litos, Tom Serratore, Guy Shabtay) that previously were announced by the program earlier this month, bringing the incoming class of 2010 to eight players to date.
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