Outstanding 2019 recruiting class for LMU men’s soccer

Published 2:25 pm Tuesday, August 13, 2019

HARROGATE, Tenn. — Lincoln Memorial University’s first-year head men’s soccer coach Robert Spain revealed the Railsplitters’ 15 new additions for the quickly-approaching 2019 season Wednesday morning.

“We are thrilled with how this inaugural class shaped up and we believe that the players in this class will perform at such a level that will set a very high bar for any future recruiting classes,” said coach Spain. “Obviously, we had a shortened recruiting cycle this year with our staff arriving in January. For us to be able to attract this type of talent and character in our first class has me really excited headed into this fall.”

Ben Callard | Fr. | Goalkeeper

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Satellite Beach, Florida

What coach Spain is saying about Callard:

“Ben is a hungry goalkeeper coming to us from the Orlando City organization. When he committed, he told us that he fell in love with what we’re trying to build on and off the field and we’re excited at how well he will fit in our culture. His mentality is exactly what we’re trying to build our program around. He’s a very athletic player which translates well in his position, so we’re excited for Ben to come in and push our team forward from day one.”

Erin Escobar | Fr. | Midfielder

Fort Payne, Alabama

What coach Spain is saying about Escobar:

“I saw Erin play in the Alabama High School Athletic Association state final four games down in Huntsville and identified him immediately. He’s a player that is very active, flies around and plays with confidence. He has qualities on the ball that I believe will fit within our game model as well as the mobility to help disrupt opponents. I’m excited to work with Erin, I believe he has a high ceiling within our program.”

Robin Herman | Fr. | Goalkeeper

Kirchheim unter Teck, Germany

What coach Spain is saying about Herman:

“Robin is a very experienced goalkeeper coming to us from Germany. With the way that we play, it’s difficult to find goalkeepers that can help us create an advantage when we have the ball, but who also are an advantage in defending actions and on set play scenarios. We feel that Robin brings that balance to our roster and we’re excited to see how his experience translates to the college level.”

Kriton Kiousis | Fr. | Midfielder

Athens, Greece

What coach Spain is saying about Kiousis:

“Kriton is a well-rounded player that is coming to us from Athens, Greece. He is truly a rare find when talking about his profile, as he is strong in duel actions, but he also possesses quality in making decisions under pressure as well as combining with teammates around him. Kriton is one of those unique guys that are just as good individually as they are within a collective group. We’re excited to see Kriton develop with the program as we all grow together.”

Jeroen Kokje | Sr. | Defender

Rotterdam, Netherlands

What coach Spain is saying about Kokie:

“Jeroen is coming to us as a graduate student after completing his undergraduate degree at one of the most challenging universities in the world at Erasmus University. On the field, he fits us extremely well as a versatile defender who can break lines on the ball and help us control games with our first line. We are excited to welcome Jeroen to the group and have high expectations of him being a leader for our young group of players coming in with him.”

Max Lambertz | Fr. | Defender

Mönchengladbach, Germany

What coach Spain is saying about Lambertz:

“Max is an extremely versatile and active player coming to us from Germany, where he spent time playing both centrally in the midfield as well as playing in the backline. When paired with his size and agility, that versatility and quality on the ball translates very well into our structure. We’re excited to work with Max and believe that he has a high potential within our style of play.”

Kasimir Lauber | Fr. | Midfielder

Freiburg, Germany

What coach Spain is saying about Lauber:

“Kasimir and I connected immediately as we see the game through a similar lens. His background and experience have it all, from German Youth National team experience to growing up in the Freiburg Youth academy. He’s a special player who has the ability to create time and space through simplicity, and we are excited to watch Kasimir use those qualities to help make his teammates better around him. “

Sonnie Mathis | Fr. | Midfielder | Height

Dallas, Texas

What coach Spain is saying about Mathis:

“Sonnie is a player that is coming to us from Solar, one of the strongest clubs in the country for developing players. Sonnie is an extremely well-rounded central midfielder who can play several different roles for us and can impact a lot of different types of games. He’s a very mature individual and you see that come out in the way that he plays, so we expect him to be able to impact our program this year as well as in the future during his career at LMU.”

Kurtis Orrson | So. | Midfielder

Mountain Top, Pennsylvania

What coach Spain is saying about Orrson:

“Kurtis is a guy who I’ve known for several years, going back to initially watching him play with a dominant Philadelphia Union academy team. He’s a former U.S. Youth National Team (USYNT) player and NCAA Division I transfer who had opportunities to transfer to power five programs and we’re fortunate that he’s felt at home with us at Lincoln Memorial University to prepare for his future medical career and help us build the program on the field over the next several years. He’s a versatile center midfielder who can break up play in transitional phases as well as control a game on the ball. We’re excited to have Kurtis grow into a leader at LMU.”

Auro Patnaik | Sr. | Forward

Mumbai, India |

What coach Spain is saying about Patnaik:

“Auro is coming to us as a graduate student to play his final year and start his M.B.A. after completing his undergraduate degree in engineering. Auro has played for India’s Youth National team and will be an attacking player that we feel can help our team in the final third with his quality on the ball and his ability to create chances for himself. He’s a guy who has a lot of leadership qualities that we believe will help our younger players, on and off the field, in building our program.”

Jacobo Rodriguez | Fr. | Midfielder

Clarksville, Tennessee

What coach Spain is saying about Rodriguez:

“Jacobo is coming from Clarskville and I’ve had the chance to watch him with both his high school team — Rossview High School, who advanced to the state quarterfinal as well as his club team, Nashville FC — who advanced into the regional championships this summer. Needless to say, he’s used to being on winning teams. Jacobo is a talented player on the ball and can play in multiple different positions for us, which his versatility will be key in helping him continue to develop over the next four years.”

Aimar Samaniego | Fr. | Midfielder

Donostia-San Sebastian, Spain

What coach Spain is saying about Samaniego:

“Aimar was one of the first players to commit to us and bought in from the first moment we started talking with him. On day one of preseason, we expect Aimar to be one of the most technically clean players on our team and he knows how to utilize his strengths to help him execute efficiently on the field. When you think of the best Spanish central players, Aimar is the type of profile that comes to mind and we have high expectations for him within our game model.”

Jose Sanchez | Fr. | Forward

Guayaquil, Ecuador

What coach Spain is saying about Sanchez:

“Jose is an attacking player that is coming to us from Miami but grew up in Ecuador. He’s a unique and versatile player who I believe has qualities to impact our team in the final third. It’s rare to see guys so willing to create space with their movement and Jose consistently displays that ability and desire to stretch the field and make defenders constantly worry about where he is. On top of that, he’s crafty in the box and can finish in a lot of different ways. We’re excited to see how quickly he can take that skillset and apply it to the college game.”

Pedro da Silva | Jr. | Midfielder

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

What coach Spain is saying about da Silva:

“Pedro is coming to us after competing at the junior college level for the last two years at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M. He’s a great student and we’re very excited about his versatility on the field as well. It’s rare to find guys with the type of quality on the ball that Pedro has but who also have a work ethic to help the team when not in possession. He has that rare mix and we’re excited to have Pedro at LMU for the next two years.”

Hunter Stroble | Fr. | Midfielder

Bradenton, Florida

What coach Spain is saying about Stroble:

“Hunter is coming to us with a very strong background that not only highlights his quality on the field, but also his mentality and unique drive to improve. He played for IMG in the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) Development Academy and then was scouted by German club FC Eintracht Norderstedt, whom he then joined for his senior year of high school. Hunter is a guy that is extremely dynamic and has the ability to impact the game in between the boxes but will also fit our structure in attacking phases as well.”

Spain concluded, “The best aspect of this class is the diversity; we have 15 guys coming in from eight different countries and six talented Americans coming from five different states. There are three youth national team players from three different countries, Division I, Division II and junior college transfers along with standout high school/club players – my hope is that we’re sending a strong message that we’ll look for talent and quality anywhere. High level players want to play with other high-level players, and I believe we took a big step in building that type of program in bringing in this 2019 class.”

The Railsplitters will kick off their season Aug. 16 with an exhibition contest at Appalachian State in Boone, N.C.

LMU returns 12 players whom accumulated a record of 8-4-4 overall and went 5-2-3 in the South Atlantic Conference during the 2018 season. A year ago, the Railsplitters outscored their opponents 29-19 in regular season play before LMU saw its season come to an end in the SAC Tournament quarterfinals.