Valpo Men’s Soccer Announces 2018 Newcomers
As the Valparaiso University men’s soccer team gets set to take the pitch to begin the 2018 campaign, the program has released details on the six newcomers who have joined the team.
Head coach Mike Avery and his staff once again searched far and wide to find quality players who fit Valpo’s program. The six newcomers hail from six different countries with France, Italy, England, Brazil, Columbia and the United States all represented.
Defender Julien Bertho (Plumelec, France / Richland CC) joins the program after a strong season at Richland, a team that finished the year 14-3-1 and reached the NJCAA Division III national championship match. Bertho, who will be a redshirt sophomore with three seasons of eligibility at Valpo, was a starter and a key cog in helping Richland sustain its status as a junior college powerhouse during its national runner-up season.
“Julien is a smart and savvy center back who will perfectly complement the way we try to play at Valparaiso,” Avery said. “We value backs who not only can defend, but who can also help us in possession and in building the game from back to front. Julien had great experiences as a youth player in clubs like FC Lorient and AJ Auxierre before his experience at Richland. Consistent and steady, Julien has a real chance to make a big impact during his time with our program.”
Midfielder Mattia Dabala (Venice, Italy / Maria Lazzari) comes to the Crusaders from the highest amateur level in Italy with his club A.C. Mestre, which competes in Serie D. He has an opportunity to make an immediate impact as one of two true freshmen on Valpo’s roster this season.
“Mattia has a classy left foot and displays a tremendous range of pass,” Avery said. “He has a very high soccer IQ, and I think his transition will be smooth into college soccer. The frenetic pace of college soccer sometimes surprises young international players, but players like Mattia are able to solve problems quickly because they read the game so well. As a true freshman with a full four years in front of him, Mattia will undoubtedly find a way to contribute, both now and in the future.”
Valpo’s other true freshman is forward Joe Kouadio (London, England / Moorland School) who boasts high-level experiences with the Nike Academy in England and with the U23 sides for clubs like Burnley, Nottingham Forest and Huddersfield Town.
“Joe is a big and powerful attacking player who we see as a wide player, and possibly even as a high striker,” Avery said. “He has great pace, which added to his size, makes him a handful to defend. As with all freshmen, he will need some time to adapt to the college game in the United States, but his ceiling is very high and we look forward to adding him into our attack.”
Forward / midfielder Lucca Lacerda (Passos, Brazil / Mercy College) will be a new face for Crusader fans, but he’s no stranger to playing collegiate soccer at a high level. He joins the program with one season of eligibility as a graduate transfer after completing a decorated career at Division II Mercy College in New York. He helped his team reach its highest win total since 1998 and was a first-team all-conference selection. He scored six goals and led the team with seven assists for a total of 19 points in 17 fixtures.
“Lucca is a creative attacking player who can play as a striker or an attacking midfielder, and we think combining him with players like Adan Garcia and fellow Brazilian Rafa Mentzingen will make us a very dangerous attacking team this year,” Avery said. “Lucca is very good in the final third with creative passing, flair off the dribble and a keen eye for the goal. He has aspirations to play professionally, but is also a very strong student. Valpo has a master’s program that fits his academic interests, and we have produced a number of professionals in the last 10 years, so in all areas this was a great landing spot for his final year of eligibility.”
As announced in January, Mason Marcey (Charlotte, N.C. / Charlotte Christian [Radford]) joined the Crusaders for the spring semester after starting his collegiate career at Radford in fall 2017. The redshirt sophomore midfielder was a four-year starter and captain at Charlotte Soccer Academy. He trained with the AC Milan youth team, spent a summer playing with the Charlotte Independence of the USL and won a national championship with the Charlotte Eagles (PDL).
“Mason brings great experience to our side,” Avery said. “He is coming back from an injury, so he is currently slightly behind the group, but knowing Mason, he will be leading the way very soon. Not many work as hard as this player does. Mason leads by example, and his effort is always backed up by quality.”
The group of six newcomers also features Danny Moreno (Phoenix, Ariz. / Desert Mountain [Grand Canyon]), a junior midfielder who joins Valpo as a transfer after starting his collegiate career at Grand Canyon. Moreno was a standout as a youth player for a Real Salt Lake Academy team that set an academy record for number of goals scored in a season and advanced to the academy national championship game.
“Danny is a player who I have long admired, and I always enjoyed watching Danny and his team play,” Avery said. “I was very excited when Danny contacted us about a potential transfer because he is a great fit for our program. Danny was born in Columbia, but grew up in Arizona, and is a very good player in possession – a quality I really value. For Valpo, Danny can play any number of midfield roles, and could even play as an attacking fullback. Danny is creative, technically very clean, and he has a good engine to get around the field. We have quite a talented midfield group right now, and Danny complements those players very well.”
Valpo’s six newcomers join a corps of 23 returning players to form a roster loaded with experience and talent. The Crusaders will open up exhibition play by hosting Western Michigan on Thursday at 11 a.m. at Eastgate Field. They travel to Purdue Fort Wayne on Friday and Notre Dame on Monday, Aug. 20 before the regular season commences on Friday, Aug. 24 against IUPUI at 5 p.m. at Brown Field.
Over the next three weeks, the Crusaders will face off with three sides ranked in the Top 25 nationally in the preseason United Soccer Coaches poll. Western Michigan is No. 14, Notre Dame is No. 17 and Sept. 3 opponent Wisconsin is No. 12. The Crusaders have had strong success against Top 25 opponents under Avery, most recently picking up a road win over No. 18 Loyola last season.