Popik Announces 2013-14 Men's Soccer Recruiting Class

Courtesy: Green Bay Athletics
Release: May 20, 2013
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – Green Bay men’s soccer head coach Dan Popik has announced the addition of 14 new players to his 2013-14 squad. The recent additions give the program’s roster 16 new players for the upcoming season after juniors Jean Carlo Perez (New York, N.Y.) and Taurean Greenidge (Bridgetown, Barbados) transferred to Green Bay at the start of the Spring 2013 semester.

“My main objectives for this recruiting class were to increase the overall level of talent and depth of the team,” Popik said. “This class will provide the program with a higher level of technical ability, tactical awareness and physical and athletic prowess. Every member of this talented recruiting class has the chance to make an immediate impact on the program.”

In total the class features nine players with experience in the US Soccer Development Academy while also including several other high-profile recruits from around the globe. Eddosa Muhammed is ranked No. 118 overall in Top Drawer Soccer’s Top 150 for 2013 recruits, and is also ranked No. 34 nationally at his forward position while owning the No. 6 player overall ranking in the Midwest Region.

Midfielder Tyler Swanner joins Muhammed on Top Drawer Soccer’s regional rankings, coming in as the No. 8 recruit out of the Heartland Region. Joining the Phoenix goalkeeping corps will be Kyle Ihn, a WIAA All-State and NSCAA All-Region performer at Kettle Moraine High School who also lead his club team to the USYSA Regional Final this past year.

This group also adds an international flair to the Green Bay squad with the addition of Dor Uzan and Itay Hay-Hajaj (Israel), James Pendrigh (New Zealand) and Valdis Upmalis (Latvia). Upmalis has represented his country throughout the youth ranks, most recently playing for the Latvia U19 squad in the UEFA Under-19 Championships in October 2012.

Signees are listed below in alphabetical order.

Trey Benhart
6’3 | 170 lbs.
Lakeville, Minn. | Shattuck-St. Mary’s
Shattuck-St. Mary’s

Benhart, a defender from Lakeville, Minn., joins the Green Bay roster after spending the last three years at Shattuck-St. Mary’s Academy in Faribault, Minn. with fellow Green Bay commits Eddosa Muhammed and Valdis Upmalis. Benhart has spent all three years playing in Shattuck’s Development Academy program, starting 20 games at center back for the U15/16 squad as a sophomore, and played the last two years with the U17/18 squad. The U17/18 squad won the Frontier Division in 2012 and qualified for the Development Academy Playoffs. Benhart was an honor roll student at Lakeville North High School prior to moving to Shattuck.

Brandon Hall
6’2 | 170 lbs.
O’Fallon, Mo. | O’Fallon Township
St. Louis Gallagher Metro

Hall, a defender from O’Fallon, Mo., currently plays for the St. Louis Scott Gallagher Metro U17/18 team in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy where he has started 21 games for the team this season at center back. Hall played for his O’Fallon Township High School varsity team for three years before foregoing his senior season to participate in the Development Academy, earning all-conference honors as a junior while helping lead O’Fallon to its third straight regional championship. He was also named to the academic all-conference team as a junior, and is a member of O’Fallon’s Athletic Leadership Council. Hall is club teammates with fellow Phoenix recruit Tyler Swanner.

Itay Hay-Hajaj
5’9 | 165 lbs.
Bat Hefer, Israel | Ramot Hefer
Club Team

Itay Hay-Hajaj, a defender/midfielder from Bat Hefer, Israel comes to Green Bay along with fellow Isreali international student Dor Uzan. Hay-Hajaj graduated from Ramot Hefer High School in Maabarot, Israel, where he was named the defensive player of the year as a junior and team MVP as a senior. Before coming to Green Bay, he served his military commitment in the Israeli Defense Forces.

Kyle Ihn
6’2 | 205 lbs.
Wales, Wis. | Kettle Moraine
Waukesha Pumas

Ihn, a goalkeeper from Wales, Wis., serves as the captain for the U18, two-time Wisconsin Youth Soccer Association State Cup Champions Waukesha Pumas. His Waukesha club team also finished as runner-up at the 2012 U.S. Youth Soccer Region II Championships. This past fall Ihn served as a co-captain for Kettle Moraine High School, guiding the team to its second consecutive runner-up finish in the WIAA Division I State Tournament. He posted 13 shutouts, a .920 save percentage, and a 0.77 goals against average during his senior campaign, earning him Milwaukee Journal Sentinel All-Area accolades, as well as WSCA All-State and NSCAA All-Region VI honors.

Audi Jepson
5’9 | 145 lbs.
Green Bay, Wis. | Preble
FC Milwaukee

Jepson, a midfielder from Green Bay, Wis., will join the Phoenix after a standout career at Green Bay Preble High School. A four-year starter at Preble, he scored 67 goals and added 56 assists over the course of his career. He earned all-conference honors three times and was named the Green Bay Press-Gazette Player of the Year twice. Jepson also led Preble to three Fox River Classic Conference Championships and was named as the conference player of the year as a junior and senior. His former club team, FC Magic Red, finished in the top three in the Midwest Regional League each of the last three years, and finished as runner-ups at the U.S. Club Soccer Regional Championships in both 2010 and 2011.   Jepson recently joined FC Milwaukee’s U17/18 U.S. Soccer Development Academy squad to finish out his club career.

Eddosa Muhammad
5’10 | 155 lbs.
Faribault, Minn. | Shattuck-St. Mary’s
U.S. Soccer Development Academy

Muhammed, a forward from Faribault, Minn., comes to Green Bay from Shattuck-St. Mary’s Academy where he plays for the school’s U.S. Soccer Development Academy U17/18 squad. Muhammed is ranked as one of the nation’s top 150 players in the 2013 class by TopDrawerSoccer.com. As a sophomore in 2011, Muhammed was one of the top scorers in the Development Academy with 16 goals in 24 games. Muhammed also helped the Shattuck-St. Mary’s U17/18 squad to a Development Academy Playoff berth and a Frontier Division Championship in 2012—the school’s first since joining the league in 2010—with an overall record of 15-5-4.

Adam Nelson
5’8 | 150 lbs.
Mequon, Wis. | Homestead
Elm Grove Blues

Nelson, a midfielder/forward from Mequon, Wis., comes to Green Bay following a stellar career at Homestead High School where he was a four-year starter and served as a captain his senior season. Nelson was Homestead’s leading scorer as a junior and as a senior, earning all-conference honors both seasons and WSCA all-state accolades as a senior. Nelson plays club soccer for the Elm Grove Blues after playing the in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy with FC Milwaukee’s U17/18 squad during the 2011-12 season. Prior to FC Milwaukee Nelson was heavily involved in the Olympic Development Program and participated in the ODP National Camp as a high school freshman.

Jeremy Nji
6’3 | 165 lbs.
Kimberly, Wis. | Kimberly
FC Milwaukee

Nji, a defender from Kimberly, Wis., will join the Phoenix from Kimberly High School where he captained the Papermakers to their first WIAA State Tournament appearance since 1983 as a senior this past fall. The trip to state was only the second appearance in the school’s history. He scored 10 goals and had eight assists during his senior campaign, helping him earn all-area and all-conference honors as a senior after earning his first all-conference nod the season prior as a junior. Nji played club soccer for FC Magic Red with fellow Green Bay commit Audi Jepson the last three seasons with the team finishing in the top three in the Midwest Regional League each of the last three years. The squad finished as runner-ups at the U.S. Club Soccer Regional Championships in both 2010 and 2011.  Nji recently joined FC Milwaukee’s U17/18 U.S. Soccer Development Academy squad to finish out his club career. 

James Pendrigh
6’2 | 175 lbs.
Canterbury, New Zealand | Dayton

James Pendrigh, a defender/midfielder from Canterbury, New Zealand will join the Phoenix as a transfer from the University of Dayton. Prior to Dayton, Pendrigh attended the Asia Pacific Football Academy, a comprehensive academic and soccer educational institution that operates in association with Chelsea F.C. He also attended IMG Academy in 2009, where he captained the US Soccer Development Academy squad for one season before returning to New Zealand.

Conner Sendobry
6’2 | 170 lbs.
Grover, Mo. | Christian Brothers College High
St. Louis Scott Gallagher

Sendobry, a midfielder from Grover, Mo., is one of three Phoenix commits from the St. Louis Metro Area and currently plays for the St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri U17/18 team in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy. Sendobry went to Christian Brothers College High School where he was a varsity starter as a junior, earning St. Louis Post-Dispatch Player of the Week honors before foregoing his senior season to play year-round in the Development Academy. Sendobry has started eight of his Scott Gallagher Missouri’s 13 games this season and played in 12 total contests while registering a goal from his defensive midfield position. Sendobry’s uncle, John Sendobry, played for the Phoenix in the 1980’s.

Tyler Swanner
5’10 | 150 lbs.
Glen Carbon, Ill. | Edwardsville
St. Louis Scott Gallagher

Swanner, a midfielder from Glen Carbon, Ill., currently plays with fellow Green Bay commit Brandon Hall for the St. Louis Scott Gallagher Metro U17/18 U.S. Soccer Development Academy squad. Ranked as the No. 8 recruit by TopDrawerSoccer.com in the Heartland Region, he serves as team captain for the team and has led the squad in goals and assists the last two years—including an eight-goal effort in the 2011-2012 Development Academy season. Swanner attended Edwardsville High School where he was a three-year varsity starter before foregoing his senior season to play in the Development Academy. Swanner led Edwardsville in assists all three seasons while also earning all-conference and all-sectional honors his sophomore and junior years.

Valdis Upmalis
5’10 | 148 lbs.
Riga, Latvia | Shattuck-St. Mary’s
Shattuck-St. Mary’s

Valdis Upmalis, a defender from Riga, Latvia, has spent the last three years studying and playing in the United States, starting with his sophomore year playing in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy with IMG Academy’s residential program in Bradenton, Fla. He finished his high school career by spending the last two years at Shattuck-St. Mary’s. During the 2011-2012 Development Academy season Upmalis started all 24 games for Shattuck-St. Mary’s U17/18 squad at left back and center back on the way to the Frontier Division Championship and the school’s first Development Academy Playoff berth. He has also played with the Latvian National Team at both the U17 and U19 levels in the UEFA European Championships.

Dor Uzan
5’9 | 165 lbs.
Nizaney Oz, Israel | Dror

Uzan, a midfielder/forward from Nizaney Oz, Israel, is one of three Green Bay recruits with an international background. Uzan is a graduate of Dror High School in Jerusalem, where he was the offensive player or the year in both his junior and senior seasons. Before coming to Green Bay, he served his military service commitment in the Israeli Defense Forces.

Kevin Winter
Wales, Wis. | Kettle Moraine
Waukesha Pumas

Winter, a defender from Wales, Wis., plays club and high school soccer with fellow Green Bay commit Kyle Ihn. A center back for the U18 Waukesha Pumas club team, Winter has helped the squad win two Wisconsin Youth Soccer Association State Cup Championships, earning the team a current No. 1 ranking in Wisconsin. Winter also served as a co-captain for his Kettle Moraine high School squad, helping the team to consecutive second place finishes in the WIAA Division I State Tournament. For his efforts, Winter earned, all-conference honors as well as Milwaukee Journal Sentinel All-Area and WSCA All-State recognition. Winter also ran track for Kettle Moraine, where he was a state qualifier in the 200-meter relay in 2012.

Each of the new players will look to make an impact and help the program compete for a Horizon League title as the team begins practicing later this summer before kicking off its 45th season in August.


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