UVU soccer: Wolverine men's soccer unveils first-ever signing class

By Kellen Hiser

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 5 2014 6:24 p.m. MST

Just a little over six months out from its first official competition, the Utah Valley University men's soccer program took another giant step toward realization Wednesday as head coach Greg Maas announced his first-ever signing class at UVU. The group of 14 incoming freshmen pair with the 15 men's soccer student-athletes currently enrolled at Utah Valley, giving fans a look at an initial 29-man roster that will be finalized over the spring and summer months.

"I am very excited for our recruiting class, not only because it's our first, but it's very deep in soccer talent and personal character," Maas said. "Our recruiting class will feature top-level players from 11 different states and three different countries. The depth of talent we've been able to sign will provide UVU men's soccer the opportunity to be very competitive in the WAC in our first year."

Nine states and one foreign country are represented in Maas' first signing class with five student-athletes hailing from Utah. Those five include defenders Chandler Baddley (Ogden) and Marshall Miller (Salt Lake City), as well as midfielders Mckinnlee Bowman (Lehi), Lucas Cawley (Centerville) and Victor Galindo (Ogden).

Joining the Utah contingent are three Californians in defender Joe Barakat (Torrance, Calif.), midfielder Muny Chan (Long Beach, Calif.) and goalkeeper Derek Wilcox (Livermore, Calif.). Las Vegas native Jason Eng (defender), Phoenix native Nic Harguindeguy (defender) and Boise product Carter Perry (midfielder) have also signed National Letters of Intent. Defender Mark Brown of Wakefield, R.I., and goalkeeper Collin Partee of Camas, Wash., represent the northern corners of UVU's men's soccer reach, while midfielder Diego Serna — who played high school and club soccer in the state of Utah — calls Guanajuato, Mexico, home.

This highly decorated Wolverine men's soccer class includes eight appearances on the Region IV Olympic Development Program team, five appearances with the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, two U.S. Youth National Team selections, several all-state and all-region selections, and a bevy of championships won at the high school, club, state and national levels.

While the signing class of 2014 won't arrive on campus until this summer, Maas and associate head coach Matt Ellinger have been hard at work with a group of 15 student-athletes that have been enrolled at UVU since last fall. That group, helping to lay the groundwork for the inaugural Wolverine men's soccer season, features a handful of redshirt freshmen, transfers and other upperclassmen.

"The opportunity for some players to commit to UVU and begin training this past year, has provided coach Ellinger and I the opportunity to build the foundation of our program a year in advance," Maas said. "We have been able to establish protocol specific to academic standards and expectations, and as a result, we posted a 3.4 team GPA in the fall. In addition, we have been able to begin to identify our team's personality, culture, playing style and work ethic through the dedication of these players."

The original 15 Wolverines include: defenders Alex Neff (South Weber, Utah) and Giovanny Vazquez (Roy, Utah); midfielders David Adams (Alpine, Utah), Tyler Brown (Garmisch-Partemkirchen, Germany/UMass), Jasper Kirsten (Jackson, Wyo./Monroe College), Skyler Milne (Bluffdale, Utah), Payden Pemberton (Payson, Utah) and Dillon Richens (Farmington, Utah); and forwards Chandler Boyd (Midvale, Utah), Austin Buxton (Orem, Utah), Matt Gay (Orem, Utah), Thomas Loomis (Sandy, Utah/Cal State Fullerton), Karson Payton (Provo, Utah), Benjamin Perkins (Hong Kong, China/Kentucky) and Carlos Vera (Queretaro, Mexico).

Not to be outdone by the incoming freshman class, that group has accomplished another slew of ODP selections, USSDA experience, international competitions, team titles and individual accolades.