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SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – The Cal Poly men's soccer team strengthened all areas of its roster on Friday following the joint announcement by sixth-year head coach Paul Holocher and the Mustang Athletics Department that the program has inked eight players to National Letters of Intent with the expectation of joining the squad for the 2012 campaign.
Scheduled to join the Mustangs this fall are forward John Chronopoulos (Santa Cruz, Calif., Santa Cruz HS), midfielders Sean Dhillon (Mission Viejo, Calif., Tesoro HS) and Ruben Duran (Las Vegas, Nev., Eldorado HS), winger Jesse Ham (Englewood, Colo., Denver Christian HS), center back Mamadou Kebe (Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Los Angeles Teacher Preparatory), outside back Kip Colvey (Marlborough, New Zealand, Lincoln HS), defender Kody Wakasa (Hillsborough, Calif., Burlingame HS) and goalkeeper Wade Hamilton (above, Murrieta, Calif., Murrieta Valley HS)
"We're very proud of our seven graduating seniors who represented Cal Poly faithfully during their college careers and were terrific leaders and mentors," Holocher said. "They will all be sorely missed and we knew we had to have a class that we could build the future around. We're extremely excited about our 2012 incoming freshman class because we feel that they are not only excellent soccer players, but excellent young men.
"We also feel that each possess the character and qualities that can make them immediate and positive impacts for the program," Holocher added. "During the recruiting process, we focused on finding key qualities and traits in several positions. We needed to develop and improve our attacking play and also solidify our back line. All these young men compete for top clubs and several have international experience. They are hungry, hard-working and intelligent young men who can really play. We can't wait to have them on campus and playing in front of our faithful Mustang soccer fans."
Kip Colvey (OB)
A scholarship member of the prestigious Asia Pacific Football Academy, Colvey helped New Zealand reach the round of 16 at the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico. Captain of an APFA side that toured the United Kingdom in 2010, Colvey has competed for representative county side Canterbury since U-13 level. A regional championship sprinter and cross country runner, Colvey spent time last February training with the Los Angeles Galaxy Academy squad.
"Kip is an outstanding young man and player who has the mentality and motivation to become something special," Holocher said. "He wants to become a professional and has the ability to do so. He is intelligent, athletic, tough and incredibly versatile in either the midfield or back line. He's also superbly built for an attacking outside back role."
Wade Hamilton (GK)
Checking in at No. 22 (TopDrawerSoccer.com), No. 28 (ESPNHS) and No. 38 (CollegeSoccerNews.com) in the class of 2012 national rankings, the 6-2 Hamilton was a member of the United States squad that reached the round of 16 at the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup. Named in December to the NSCAA Youth Boys All-America team, Hamilton failed to allow a goal in helping his Region IV Olympic Development Program side to the 2009 championship at the prestigious Disney Soccer Showcase. Also a member of the Cal South ODP squad, Hamilton appeared for Arsenal FC in 2009 at the Manchester United Premier Cup and Torneo Internazionale de calico (Pordenone, Italy).
"Wade is one of the best young goalkeepers in the nation and his experience with the U-17 national team during the last two years has elevated his game," Holocher said. "With his size, athletic quality and understanding and insight of the position, he's the complete package for a young goalkeeper. Wade possesses a composed and confident demeanor and he organizes his defense well. He will be an outstanding player and leader for the Cal Poly program over the coming years."
Mamadou Kebe (CB)
Kebe is rated as the No. 62 player in the ESPNHS class of 2012 ranking. Captain of his Los Angeles Teacher Prep squad as a sophomore and junior, Kebe joined the Chivas USA Academy program as a senior before opting for the Los Angeles Galaxy developmental squad.
"Kebe is a young man we're incredibly excited about," Holocher said. "He's originally from Ivory Coast, but has spent the last several years in southern California and is currently playing for a terrific organization in LA Galaxy. He will be an immediate and positive impact at Cal Poly. Athletically, he will become a real force. His ability on the ball is outstanding and he plays intelligently from the back or in midfield. He's also an outstanding student and person who lights up any room he walks in. We feel Kebe will become very special here at Cal Poly."
Sean Dhillon (MF)
Ranked No. 61 among CollegeSoccerNews.com's top 150 recruits in the class of 2012, Dhillon scored 10 goals and distributed 18 assists to help the Los Angeles Galaxy Academy squad claim the 2011 U.S. Soccer Federation national championship. Dhillon, also No. 114 in the ESPNHS class of 2012 rankings, led Irvine-based Strikers FC in scoring this past year. Dhillon is also a former captain and five-year leading scorer for Laguna Hills-based West Coast FC.
"Sean is an outstanding young player who will play in the attack for us. He is very competitive and he has leadership qualities that are apparent in how he approaches every training session," Holocher said. "Sean always seems to find ways to produce in games and get himself involved in positive plays because he's willing to work hard. He has a strong running engine that allows him to cover a lot of ground and be a winning influence for his team."
Ruben Duran (MF)
Rated No. 22 in the CollegeSoccerNews.com class of 2012 ranking, Duran scored 27 times and added 16 assists to help lift Eldorado HS to an 18-3-1 mark this past fall, a Northeast League championship and a berth in the Nevada Class 4A state semifinals. Along the way, Duran – also ranked No. 45 by TopDrawerSoccer.com and No. 53 by ESPNHS – was named Northeast League Player of the Year, Las Vegas Review-Journal Boy's Soccer Player of the Year and to the All-Southern Nevada team this past fall. A member of the Nevada Olympic Development Program squad, Duran has also trained with the U.S. Soccer Under-17 National Team residency program at the IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) and toured with the side to Spain in 2011.
"Ruben is an all-around midfield player who is quick, tough and can attack," Holocher said. "He plays with a bit of a chip on his shoulder and is competitive and passionate. He has the ability to close down opponents with pace and he moves forward effectively into the attack. He is also humble, very coachable and has a winning mentality that will take him far. We feel Ruben will become an outstanding player and leader in the coming years for Cal Poly."
Jesse Ham (W)
No. 148 in the CollegeSoccerNews.com rankings, Ham was selected to the All-Colorado team as a senior in 2011 and junior in 2010 and to the All-Mile High League team during each of the past three years at Denver Christian HS. Chosen for U.S. Soccer Developmental Academy select teams in 2010 and 2011, Ham also represents the Real Colorado Developmental Academy program.
"Jesse is an attacking player and is an exciting addition to our offense," Holocher said. "He's a winger by nature, quick as can be, and loves to beat opponents on the dribble or combine with teammates. He's a player that gets you on the edge of your seat with his ability on the ball and, for Cal Poly fans, he's reminiscent of Kyle Montgomery. We're looking forward to helping in his growth, development and transition to this next level of college soccer."
Kody Wakasa (D)
A U.S. Soccer Developmental Academy player for De Anza Force, Wakasa scored twice to help the squad to a 2011 runner-up showing in the Northwest Division. A member of the Cal North ODP side (2008-11), Wakasa also spent time with a U.S. regional ODP squad from 2009-11. At Burlingame HS, Wakasa was named Most Valuable Player of the Peninsula League as a senior in 2011 after assisting the Panthers to a league title.
"Kody is a very well-rounded, solid and versatile soccer player," Holocher said. "He plays the game the right way, looking to keep possession intelligently as he goes forward. He has a long frame that will continue to develop strength and power over the coming years. He has exceptional ability in his heading and can play anywhere along the back or midfield line. Kody is also a top-level student that knows the great value of this Cal Poly education."
John Chronopoulos (F)
A three-year letterwinner at Santa Cruz HS, Chronopoulos was named Santa Cruz Coast League Player of the Year in 2011 after helping the Cardinals to a second-successive California Interscholastic Federation Central Coast Section Division III championship. Chronopoulos also earned SCCL Co-Forward of the Year praise as a sophomore and was named to the all-league team as a freshman. A member of the U.S. Soccer Developmental Academy system's Breakers Academy since age 10, Chronopoulos has already registered 13 goals in 15 club matches.
"John is a player that I have known of since he was seven years old and one that has been a pleasure to watch develop over the years," Holocher said. "He's a physically strong player who has an equally strong work ethic. He is very comfortable on the wing or as a central striker as he has the pace to get behind players with or without the ball. He will develop into a real attacking threat for Cal Poly which is an area that we want to improve. He will become a fan favorite here at Cal Poly in the coming years."
As a team, the 2011 Mustangs set program defensive records and Big West Conference-leading marks for fewest goals conceded (17, in 18 games) and fewest goals allowed per game (0.94). Cal Poly also paced the Big West with a 0.90 goals against average.
Including an 11,075-fan figure for their 2-1 victory against No. 13 UC Santa Barbara on Oct. 14, Cal Poly finished 2011 ranked once again among the Division I leaders by averaging 2,140 fans per match at Alex G. Spanos Stadium.