Feb. 19, 2014
SAN DIEGO -
San Diego State men's soccer coach Lev Kirshner proudly announced his 14-player recruiting class set to join the Aztecs this fall, which includes two college transfers and 12 high school standouts.
It is one of the best recruiting classes SDSU has had during Kirshner's 14-year tenure, as individual accolades include, but are not limited to, an All-American, a U.S. National Team member, two four-star recruits as well as regional and state ODP team members.
"It is our philosophy to recruit competitive and athletically-gifted technicians, who possess a high soccer IQ and a true desire to get better," Kirshner said. "In this class, we have done just that. After losing 12 players to graduation and professional contract, we needed a very large group to come in and make an immediate impact in the fall."
The Aztecs departing senior class includes four all-Pac-12 performers, including forward Jordan Ongaro, who was selected by the MLS's Montreal Impact on Jan. 21. Despite losing so much experienced talent, Kirshner believes he was able to fill several holes to help the Aztecs return to national prominence.
"We are happy to have met this challenge at every position, and know our 2014 squad will get us back to the expected standards we share within our Aztec Soccer family," Kirshner said.
Here is a look at each signee:
Hometown: Silver Springs, Md.
High School: Montgomery Blair
Club: ASA Milan BlackHawks
Benamna comes to Montezuma road after being an all-Region, all-State and all-MET selection as a senior at Montgomery Blair High. The Silver Springs, Md., native was also the 2012 Surf Cup MVP and an all-State selection as a junior. Benamna said he chose SDSU, "because it's a great soccer program with great academics."
Hometown: Poway, Calif.
High School: Poway
Club: San Diego Surf USSDA
Flores continues SDSU's tradition of keeping the best players in San Diego County, as he's one of two players joining the Aztecs from North County's Poway High. Ranked 33rd in Southern California region by Top Drawer Soccer and the No. 71 recruit by OWTY, Flores scored 17 goals for his club team San Diego Surf USSDA in 2013. He was also A Far West Region ODP selection.
Hometown: Northridge, Calif.
High School: Crespi Carmelite
Club: DMS11 B95
A two-time first-team all-Mission League selection and a three-time all-Mission League all-Academic selection, Berkolds was a four-year varsity starter at Crespi Carmelite High in Northridge, Calif. He was named team Player of the Year as a senior and team Defensive Player of the Year three times, and set the single-season tackle record (169). Berkolds said he chose SDSU because, "It's a great academic fit with a strong business program, excellent athletic opportunities and coaching staff."
Thom van den Berg
Hometown: Arnhem, Netherlands
High School: Beekdal Lyceum
Club: Vitesse Arnhem
The Arnhem, Netherlands native played several games against other highly-regarded youth academies including Ajax, Feyenoord and PSV in six years competing in the youth academy of Vitesse. Chose SDSU because of, "The big enthusiasm and harmonious atmosphere which I discovered in the recruiting film, and the great contact with the coaches. And of course the beautiful weather."
Hometown: Mission Viejo, Calif.
High School: Capistrano Valley
Club: West Coast F.C.
Baboiyan was a member of CalSouth and Region IV ODP teams, and a two-time National Champion with West Coast F.C. He was team captain on back-to-back CIF Section finalsist as a sophomore and junior, as the Cougars were ranked No. 6 in the nation on ESPN Rise following his junior season. In addition, Baboiyan is the first player in Capistrano Valley history to receive first-team all-Southern California. The Mission Viejo, Calif., native chose SDSU due to, "The playing style, coaching staff, location and opportunity to compete in the Pac-12 with the best teams and players."
Hometown: Dublin, Ohio
High School: Dublin Scioto
Club: Columbus Crew USSDA
Blackwell was ranked No. 108 in 2014 freshman class by Collegesoccernews.com, as well as No. 17 in the region and a four-star recruit by Top Drawer Soccer. A four-year member of the US Soccer Development Academy, Blackwell was also a two-time captain for the Columbus Crew Soccer Academy. Says he selected SDSU because, "I felt a connection with the coaches immediately. It's very important to be at a place where I can both achieve an incredible education and continue to develop as a player. SDSU offers the entire package."
Hometown: Newton, Mass.
High School: Newton North
Club: FC Greater Boston Bolts Academy
A transfer from Northeastern, Callahan started 16 games as a freshman for the Huskies last season. A three-time State Cup champion and a Region 1 Premiere League champion in 2009, Callahan has been a member of the FC Greater Boston Bolts since u-11 and was a team captain for the Bolts in 2007 and 2010. In addition, the Newton Mass., native helped lead North High to the Division I North Championship as a senior. Callahan said he decided to transfer to SDSU, "because of the passion and desire of the coaching staff striving to be the best. The Pac-12 has great soccer players, and I have always pushed to compete with the best competition. Also, SDSU gives me great exposure to be able to play at the next level."
Hometown: Berlin, Germany
High School: Heinrich-Schliemann-Oberschule
Club: SV Empor Berlin
The third-leading goal scorer in Berlin's highest city league in 2012-13, Crozier scored 24 goals in 32 games. The Berlin, Germany native scored 14 goals in Solar Cup 2013 Dresden to be the top goal scorer among 10 regional teams. He was also the top goal scorer with 12 goals at the U-17 2013 Copa Maresme in Spain among 44 international teams. Crozier says he picked the Aztecs because, "SDSU is among the top universities in the United States and continues to rise. I also like the spirit and philosophy of the Aztecs and the opportunity to contribute to their great vision."
Hometown: Colorado Springs, Colo.
High School: Liberty
Club: Real Colorado U17/U18 Developmental Academy USSDA
Frazier comes to Montezuma Road as a first-team 5A Colorado Springs all-Metro Division selection and an all-Gazette Prep Soccer honorable mention He played four years in the Developmental Academy for Real Colorado and Colorado Rush, in addition to being a member of the U18/U19 Denver Cup champions in 2011. The Colorado Springs, Colo., native said he selected the Aztecs because, "San Diego State soccer and playing in the Pac-12 are the highest levels of collegiate soccer. I felt like it was the right fit for me both athletically and academically. Coach Kirshner and coach (Matt) Hall made me feel at home on my visit, and truly care about their players."
Hometown: Fircrest, Wash.
High School: Thomas Jefferson
Club: Seattle Sounders Youth Academy USSDA
A four-star recruit by Top Drawer Soccer, Olsen was the second-leading scorer for the Sounders Academy with 18 goals in 2012-13. He helped lift his ODP and club team a regional championship and national finals in 2010, and helped Jefferson High win state championships in 2010 and 2011. Olsen said he decided to attend SDSU because, "I've always dreamed of going to college in California."
Hometown: Modesto, Calif.
High School: Central Valley
Club: Milan FC Rossoneri
Ramos led the state of California in assists with 29 (20th in the nation) and was second in the state in total points (91) according to maxpreps.com . The Modesto, Calif., native was two-time all-District MVP and two-time all-Western Athletic Conference MVP at Central Valley High, and also trained with San Luis F.C. and with CF Pachuca youth academy. Say's he decided to attend SDSU, "Because it's located in a great city, and I feel the atmosphere on and off the field will help me become the person I strive to become."
Ernest Reyes III
Hometown: Poway, Calif.
High School: Poway
Club: San Diego Surf Academy
Another member of the 2014 recruiting class from North County, Reyes is a four-star recruit and participated in the U.S. Soccer Market Training Center. In addition to being a three-year starter at Poway High and helped lead the Titans win the Palomar League championship in 2011, Reyes lifted his club team San Diego Surf Academy to the Cal South ODP Regional championship and the Dallas Cup championship. Reyes said he picked the Aztecs, "Because it provided me the academic major I was interested in. I was also excited about the quality of soccer, the competitive schedule, the family atmosphere and the opportunity to win a championship. With all that along with playing in great weather was an easy decision."
Hometown: Brownsburg, Ind.
High School: Brownsburg
Club: Indiana Fire Academy USSDA
A member of the U-15 National Team, Rhodes is ranked No. 128 by Top Drawer Soccer and No. 149 by CollegeSoccerNews.com. Says he chose SDSU over several others because, "The coaching staff is second to none. They are incredible coaches as well as incredible people off the field. I felt SDSU gave me the opportunity to develop enough to move on to the next level."
Hometown: Madrid, Spain
High School: IES El Burgo de Las Rozas
Club: Real Madrid C.F.
One of the classes' most experience members, Vazquez played club soccer for Madrid C.F. and with Getafe 8 and 9. An NSCAA first-team All-American and an all-South Region first-team selection as a sophomore at San Jacinto College, Vazquez recorded 35 points on 11 goals and 13 assists. As a freshman, the Madrid, Spain native tallied a team-high 25 points behind eight goals and nine assists en route to being a NJCAA all-Region and NSCAA all-Region second-team selection. Vazquez said he decided to attend San Diego State because, "I really enjoyed my visit last fall. The campus was amazing and the environment really suited me, as well as the soccer program. Coach (Kirshner) is very enthusiastic and has given me a lot of confidence since the first day I spoke with him."