Valparaiso men’s soccer head coach Mike Avery has announced one more player who has signed a National Letter of Intent and will join the Crusaders for the 2011 season. In Eric Nieto, the eleventh player to commit to Valparaiso University, Avery has added one more integral piece into the already stellar class of incoming freshmen. The Crusaders will begin the 2011 campaign in late August and will strive to continue the winning tradition which has led them to two record-setting back-to-back winning seasons.
Eric Nieto (Louisville, Ky./Louisville Collegiate School)
Nieto is a versatile 5’10” player who has had standout seasons as both a defender and a midfielder through his high school and club career. A mainstay on the field for Collegiate in the 2010 season under the guidance of head coach Brad Davies, Nieto earned numerous honors as a senior, finishing the year as runner-up for the title of high school soccer Mr. Kentucky after being named a First Team All-State selection. Nieto was also named All-District Player of the Year, earned a spot on the All-Region Team and was All-Class A MVP in addition to being Collegiate’s team MVP. In the summer preceding his senior season, he was selected to the University of Notre Dame summer camp All-Star team. Prior to his senior season, Nieto was consistently recognized by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association with Most Valuable Player honors (2007), All-District (2007 and 2009), and Second Team All-State (2007 and 2009). Louisville Collegiate School recently named Nieto as one of just two defenders selected to the Collegiate Soccer Honorable Mention All-Decade Team, which includes the best of the best players to emerge from the Collegiate boy’s soccer program since 2000.
“Eric is a great addition to our program, and a great fit for Valparaiso University overall,” said Avery. “I have known both his high school coach, Brad Davies, and his club coach, Jonathan Velotta, for some time, and I know both of these coaches have done a tremendous job in preparing Eric for the next level. Eric is, simply put, a good soccer player that will push our returning varsity players for playing time from day one, which obviously makes us better as a team. He has great technique, is capable with both feet, and can comfortably play a lot of positions on the field. He was a standout for Collegiate as a center back, and I have seen him play in attacking midfield and striker roles with his club team. No matter where he is on the field, he finds the game and is an influential player.”
In addition to his high school credentials, Nieto has been involved in the US Soccer Olympic Development Program in Kentucky. In 2007, he was selected to the Kentucky State Roster and subsequently identified as one of the top players in Region II, which brings together the best players from 14 states, including Kentucky. In 2008, Eric again was selected to the Region II roster and was invited to the Argentina Invitational, which pitted the Region II team against international competition from South America. Nieto, a member of Mockingbird Valley S.C., will report to preseason camp in August with the other ten incoming players to begin his Crusader career.
“As good as Eric can be as a player, I am even more impressed with him as a person,” said Avery. “He has worked very hard to get as much out of his educational experience at a top school like Collegiate, and has been a leader on that campus. Along with the others we have brought into the fold, Eric makes this truly an outstanding freshman class.”