West Virginia University men's soccer coach Marlon LeBlanc announced the addition of nine student-athletes for the 2013 season.
"We have good numbers in regards to competition at each position," coach Marlon LeBlanc says. "We feel very good about where we are as a team and a program. We're going to be pretty young heading into 2013, but we had a lot of young guys play minutes for us a year ago. That youth is more so in class than it is in experience.
"It's a good, dynamic group across all areas of the pitch. We're very excited about this group and feel that they can challenge to be a championship team in the MAC and certainly an NCAA tournament team in 2013."
Eight of the nine signees will join the team out of high school, including two from New Jersey, two from Pennsylvania, two from Texas, one from Georgia and one from Virginia. The Mountaineers added one transfer who hails from Florida.
Coming from the high school ranks is Nick Anello (Freehold, N.J.), Brent Arnold (Landisville, Pa.), Christian Diaz (Houston, Texas), Mike Desiderio (Media, Pa.), Jack Driscoll (Virginia Beach, Va.), Thomas Farrell (West Keansburg, N.J.), Alex Ochoa (Pasadena, Texas) and Kyle Richards (Loganville, Ga.).
The group is rounded out by Pitt transfer Lee Johnston (Newberry, Fla.).
Nick Anello, D, 5-11, 166, Freehold, N.J./NJSA 04 Academy/Howell HS
Plays for coaches Antonio Meza and Tab Ramos with NJSA 04 Academy ... has played in 12 games thus far in 2012-13, making six starts ... scored one goal in 29 games with 25 starts in 2011-12 ... selected to participate in the U.S. Soccer Training Center ... participated in the Academy playoffs with the U-15/16 team, the first team in club history to reach the playoffs ... played on the 2008 New Jersey Olympic Development Program squad ... previously served as a captain with Howell United Soccer Club ... played for coach Richard Yuro at Howell High from 2010-11 ... two-year starter as a sophomore and junior ... named Howell Rookie of the Year in 2010, leading the team to the semifinals of the Shore Conference Tournament ... helped team to the semifinals of the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group 4 Tournament in 2011 ... father, Salvatore Anello played soccer at Bridgeport ... uncle, Vincent Anello played soccer at Marshall ... three-star recruit according to TopDrawerSoccer.com ... attended the WVU Men's Soccer Collegiate Prep Academy.
LeBlanc on Anello: Nick Anello is a defender, a very athletic defender. He's long, athletic, fast and can play as a fullback or a wide midfielder. He's a right-footed kid who is very multi dimensional in that he'll get up and down, but also look for the ball at his feet. Nick is a player who is going to compete right away because of his athleticism and we think he is going to find his feet pretty quickly.
Brent Arnold, GK, 6-1, 195, Landisville, Pa./PA Classics Academy/Hempfield HS
Plays for coach Steve Klein with PA Classics Academy ... has posted five shutouts with a 0.76 goals-against average in 13 games thus far in 2012-13 ... defensively, the team is currently ranked No. 3 in the nation according to TopDrawerSoccer ... posted 11 shutouts with a 1.20 goals-against average in 34 games during the 2011-12 season ... took second place at the USSF National Academy Finals in 2011 ... posted 12 shutouts and a 1.00 goals-against average in 2010-11 ... selected to the 2011 MLS Philadelphia Union U17 Generation Adidas Cup Team ... member of the U14 National Pool and the U14 Region 1 Team in 2008-09 ... played for coach Mark Ashley at Hempfield High ... father, Jay, played soccer at Drexel ... mother, Elizabeth, played field hockey at Bloomsburg ... brother, Andrew, played golf at Lehigh ... four-star recruit according to TopDrawerSoccer ... ranked No. 10 recruit in Pennsylvania by TopDrawerSoccer ... attended the WVU Men's Soccer Collegiate Prep Academy.
LeBlanc on Arnold: Brent is a very good goalkeeper that at one stage was on the best defending team in the Academy. He led them into the Academy finals a year ago and they're right back in the hunt this year. We think he's going to be able to come in and fight for that No. 1 jersey right off the bat. He's worked very hard on his fitness over the last year and you can see a difference in him. He's explosive, covers a lot of ground and is very tough to beat on crosses because he covers his box so well. We think that he is going to be right there when it is time to pencil in the starter. He has the chance to fill in the mold of Zach Johnson and Nick Noble.
Christian Diaz, MF, 5-10, 165, Houston, Texas/Houston Dynamo Academy/Cy Falls HS
Plays for coach Jamie Clarkson with Houston Dynamo Academy ... this season Diaz will become the first Dynamo Academy player to ever play in 100 career matches ... has played in 12 games with one goal in 2012-13, helping the team to first place in the Frontier Division ... has been named to the Dynamo Academy Team of the Week three times this season ... played in 34 games, starting 22 with three goals in 2011-12 ... played at the prestigious Eurovoetbal Tournament in the Netherlands in 2011 ... appeared in all six games, starting two ... played in 18 of 26 games, making 10 starts and finished in the squad's top 10 in minutes played in 2010-11 ... four-star recruit according to TopDrawerSoccer ... ranked No. 32 recruit in Texas.
LeBlanc on Diaz: Diaz is a tremendous technical player. He makes the game easy for others and makes the players around him better. He is the type of guy who passes it, who is able to relieve pressure and a guy you can play through. He is very intelligent in the way he distributes and his ability to circulate the point of attack. Christian is going to be one of the more dependable players that we have had. He just flat out doesn't turn the ball over and does a fantastic job playing his role.
Mike Desiderio, MF, 5-11, 175, Media, Pa./FC Delco Academy/Penncrest HS
Plays for coach Alan Mezger with FC Delco Academy ... joined club in 2009 and serves as a captain on the U-17/18 squad ... has played in 13 games thus far in 2012-13, making 11 starts ... currently second on the team with four goals ... played in the 2009 Manchester United Premier Cup ... played for coach Paul Norris at Penncrest High as a freshman and a sophomore ... named 2010 All-Delco Honorable Mention ... grandfather is legendary soccer player/manager Walt Bahr, who was a captain of the U.S. National Team and played in the 1950 FIFA World Cup when the U.S. defeated England 1-0, in what is considered one of the greatest upsets in sports history ... three-star recruit according to TopDrawerSoccer.
LeBlanc on Desiderio: Mike Desiderio is a soccer player. He is the kind of guy that when you go watch him, you don't necessarily see what brings him attention, but he does all of the little things right. He covers ground, plays his role, he plays simple and is a cerebral player. He has the game in his bloodlines and it takes a good recruiting eye to appreciate what he does because he's not going to do anything outside of the norm that wows you necessarily. It is similar to that of a Chris Armas or Richie Williams back in the day. He is just a defensive midfielder with a defensive midfielder mentality, but can also attack.
Jack Driscoll, F/MF, 6-0, 165, Virginia Beach, Va./Beach FC/Cape Henry Collegiate HS
Plays for coach Trevor Adair with Beach FC ... participated in the Disney Showcase ... played for coach David Brun at Cape Henry Collegiate High in 2012 ... named to the VISAA All-State Second Team and All-TCIS Conference First Team ... previously played at Princess Anne High from 2009-11, serving as a two-year captain ... earned All-Eastern Region First Team and All-Beach District First Team honors in 2011 ... three-star recruit according to TopDrawerSoccer.
LeBlanc on Driscoll: Jack Driscoll is a young man we discovered in our Academy Camp here and is the type of guy who is flying under the radar right now. He is a great athlete with good size, good speed and a knack for scoring goals. I think that Jack Driscoll has a tremendous amount of upside. Our recruiting process with him was similar to that of Eric Schoenle's where nobody knew about him and all of the sudden he took off. Jack is out of the same mold. He has a tremendous amount of agility, so he can side-step defenders, can step in between them and outmuscle them at the same time. He's going to score goals for us. He has all of the physical tools and I think we'll be able to get the most out of him.
Thomas Farrell, MF, 5-7, 160, West Keansburg, N.J./NJSA 04 Academy/St. John Vianney HS
Plays for coaches Antonio Meza and Tab Ramos with NJSA 04 Academy ... has played in 12 games thus far in 2012-13, making eight starts with two goals ... played seven games with six starts before a season-ending injury in 2011-12 ... has played in Italy, Switzerland and France ... previously served as a captain with Howell United Soccer Club and Freehold Legacy ... played for coach Brian Grimm at St. John Vianney High ... started every game for three seasons, becoming the third freshmen to ever accomplish the feat ... three-year starter and a captain in 2011, leading the squad to the state semifinals ... two-time All-Shore Conference, two-time All-Monmouth County and two-time New Jersey All-State Honorable Mention honoree ... three-star recruit according to TopDrawerSoccer ... attended the WVU Men's Soccer Collegiate Prep Academy.
LeBlanc on Farrell: Tommy is another intelligent midfielder and will play the holding midfielder position for us. He is a two-footed player that is hardnosed with a whole lot of Jersey bite and Jersey attitude. He's a winner by mentality and had a bit of a hiccup with injury last year. We think he fell off the radar because he was out for so long, but he is 100 percent recovered and Tommy will step in and do the dirty work for us in the midfield.
Lee Johnston, GK, 6-3, 180, Newberry, Fla./Pitt/Oak Hall HS
Transferred to WVU after two seasons at Pitt ... started 15 games, compiling a 1.75 goals-against average with 74 saves in 2012 ... ranked second in the Big East in saves per game (4.93) and third in saves (74) ... named to Big East weekly honor roll on Sept. 12 ... earned MVP honors at the Pitt/Nike Invitational for play in wins over IPFW (Sept. 7) and Delaware (Sept. 9) ... named a member of the Duquesne Invitational All-Tournament Team for performance versus Howard (Aug. 26) and Niagara (Aug. 24) ... played in 13 games in 2011, starting 11 matches with a 1.32 goals-against average and 59 saves ... ranked among fourth in saves per game (4.54) and eighth in save percentage (.787) in the Big East ... twice was named to Big East Honor Roll (Oct. 3 and Sept. 5) ... helped the squad post a 2-1 double overtime win over Syracuse, recording six saves ... named to Duquesne Invitational team ... previously led Oak Hall High to the state regional quarterfinals and a district championship ... compiled 41 victories over his scholastic career ... earned Co-MVP honors as a sophomore and junior ... recorded a remarkable 1.08 goals against average and earned team MVP ... helped squad post a 16-8-2 record freshman year ... played club soccer for Leg-A-Z elite, which was ranked No.1 in the state of Florida in 2010 ... selected as an alternative goalkeeper for the Florida ODP squad in 2009 ... also excelled in baseball, earning all-region honors.
LeBlanc on Johnston: We're really glad that we brought in Lee. We have gotten to see him up close and personal as he was tremendous two years ago when we went and played at Pitt. It took two penalties to beat him after we barraged him with opportunities. He's a long goalkeeper at 6'4" and his wingspan is absolutely massive. Lee, Brent and Kevin Armstrong are going to have a great battle to see who our No. 1 goalkeeper is.
Alex Ochoa, D, 5-8, 150, Pasadena, Texas/Houston Dynamo Academy/Pasadena Memorial HS
Plays for coach Jamie Clarkson with Houston Dynamo Academy ... has played and started in all 15 games this season, helping the team to first place in the Frontier Division ... named to the Dynamo Academy Team of the Week on Dec. 5 ... played in 31 games, starting 30 in 2011-12 ... part of the 2011 SUM U-17 Cup that tied for the group title ... only player to play every minute at the prestigious Eurovoetbal Tournament in the Netherlands in 2011 ... started all six games and played 240 minutes ... registered a goal and an assist at the 2011 Dallas Cup ... started 24 of 26 games in 2010-11 as an outside back ... made Dynamo debut at the 2010 SUM U-17 Cup ... four-star recruit according to TopDrawerSoccer ... ranked No. 21 recruit in Texas.
LeBlanc on Ochoa: Alex Ochoa is an excellent defender and an attacking defender at that. He's got a naturally sweet left foot and a good engine. He reads the game well, he passes well and is just a very sound player. I really think he is the kind of guy who has the ability to break in right away and be an impactful player. He plays 90 minutes regularly with the Dynamo and I just think the kid is top quality.
Kyle Richards, M, 5-9, 140, Loganville, Ga./Concorde Fire Academy/Loganville HS
Plays for coach Gregg Blasingame with Concorde Fire Academy ... has started all 11 games in 2012-13 with one goal ... member of the Canadian U-18 team ... played on the Georgia Olympic Development Program team that won the U-16 National Championship ...played on the Region 3 Olympic Develop Program team for two seasons ... three-year starter for coach Chris Ming at Loganville High ... recorded 21 goals and 20 assists for his career ... two-time All-Region 8-AAAA First Team member ... four-star recruit according to TopDrawerSoccer ... No. 113 on the TopDrawerSoccer IMG Academy 150 ... ranked No. 7 recruit in the South Atlantic region by TopDrawerSoccer ... ranked No. 17 defender by TopDrawerSoccer.
LeBlanc on Richards: Kyle Richards is very similar to Ray Gaddis. He has speed to burn, is athletic, is tough and he is a guy who is going to really remind people of Ray. That's a lofty standard to compare a young player to, but it tells you the regard that we hold Kyle in. He's going to get up and down the pitch and will work his socks off. He is technically sound and has had the opportunity to represent Canada at the youth national level and we're very excited to have him.