Valparaiso men’s soccer head coach Mike Avery announced today the addition of two standout student-athletes with experience with youth national teams from their respective countries to the Crusader men’s soccer roster. Tapiwa Kaseke (Bulawayo, Zimbabwe) and Julio Velasquez (Albuquerque, N.M.) are enrolled at the university and have joined the Crusaders in their off-season training.
“These two guys are proving to be perfect additions to our group,” said Avery. “Tapiwa and Julio both bring interesting qualities on the field and have raised our level immediately. They also add to the strong, interesting and rich culture we enjoy in the locker room, and both are tremendous young men that the Valparaiso University community will really enjoy.”
Kaseke, a 6’2” freshman striker from Zimbabwe, Africa joins the Crusader roster from Christian Brothers College (Bulawayo, Zimbabwe), where he compiled significant accolades throughout his prep career. Named the Best Athlete as a senior with 67 goals, 23 assists, and 19 game-winners throughout his career, Kaseke also set the Christian Brothers College single season record for single-season goals scored with 31. In addition to his high school accomplishments, Kaseke spent two years as a part of the U-20 Zimbabwe National Team, earning his first international cap versus Botswana.
“Tapiwa has the potential to be the one piece of the puzzle that we have really been missing in the past few seasons, and that is a true striker,” said Avery. “Tapiwa is comfortable in the high, central channel, and has great instincts in the penalty box. He has great pace to get behind defenses, and is powerfully built to fend off tackles. Most importantly, Tapiwa has a finisher’s instinct in front of the goal and is always looking to find the target.”
“I look forward to a new experience where I can make a difference in my life,” said Kaseke. “I enjoy the way the Valpo program is conducted and how it takes the time to develop players.”
Velasquez, a 5’8” native of Albuquerque, N.M., most recently played with Lincoln College in Illinois, where he was named Freshman of the Year in 2011 and twice recognized as a NJCAA First Team All-Region standout. Prior to his tenure at Lincoln College, Velasquez spent one season at the University of New Mexico, where he used a redshirt year in 2010. In his club career, Velasquez played for New Mexico Elite FC Gladiators, which was six-time state champions, two-time regional finalists, and two-time Disney Showcase Champions. Due to his success at the club and high school levels, Velasquez was called in to the U17 U.S. National Team Residency Camp in 2008.
“Julio is a very talented player who has always excelled on the field,” said Avery. “The game seems to come easy for him because he is very technical, versatile, and has a high soccer IQ. What has impressed us the most so far is that he has also come to us with a great blend of quiet confidence and humility. Since we began training in January he has been one of our hardest workers, and he has shown a personal maturity that I think is going to set him up for a very successful run here at Valpo. He has had some great experiences as a youth player and in the time he spent at UNM and Lincoln. I think he is ready to put all the pieces of his soccer career together for his final two years at Valparaiso.”
“I chose Valpo because of the success they have on and off the field,” said Velasquez. “They also have a great coaching staff which is willing to help me achieve my maximum potential”.