PISCATAWAY, NJ – Rutgers University men’s soccer head coach Bob Reasso has announced his 2004 recruiting class. The four-member class includes a trio of New Jersey scholastic standouts and one of Virginia’s top players.
“We are very delighted with the players we have brought in this year,” Reasso said. “We brought in a very big class last year, so we are not bringing in as many this year. We will be adding to this class in the next month as we receive more commitments. We have always had success in New Jersey and this year is no exception, as we feel we got three of the top five players available in the State this year.”
Rutgers welcomes three of New Jersey’s finest scholastic soccer players in First Team All-State selections Tom Gray (Middletown, NJ), Ryan Breznitsky (Scotch Plains, NJ) and Zach Simi (East Brunswick, NJ). The Scarlet Knights also bring in one of Virginia’s top defenders in Jacob Martenson (Winchester, VA).
Gray is a two-time Star Ledger First Team All-State selection out of Middletown South High School. He scored 77 goals and added 75 assists in his four-year varsity career, breaking the school record in each category. Gray was named the All-Shore and Monmouth County Player of the Year his senior season after registering 24 goals and 23 assists. He led the Eagles to their best record in school history at 19-2-1, including a perfect 12-0 mark in winning the Shore Conference Class B North Division title. Gray also was a four-year member of the varsity wrestling team at Middletown South. He played his club ball with the Middletown Sonics, winning three state championships and one regional title in nine years. Gray is also a three-time member of the Regional team and a four-time member of the state team. He is considered one of the top-five players in the state by the New Jersey Soccer Coaches Association. Gray competed with the U-14 National Pool and U-17 State team that won the regional championship in 2004 and advanced to the national championship in Las Vegas, NV.
“Tommy is fast, technically-gifted and probably one of the best athletes we have ever brought to Rutgers,” commented Reasso. “He has the ability to go by people and shoot or knock in great crosses. He is a great striker of the ball with either foot and can play in any attacking position.”
Breznitsky was selected to the First Team All-State Team his junior and senior year by both the Star Ledger and New Jersey Soccer Coaches Association. He was also a two-time member of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) All-Eastern Region First Team. Like Gray, Breznitsky was named one of the top five players in the state by the New Jersey Soccer Coaches Association. During his senior season, Breznitsky led Scotch-Plains Fanwood High School to the State Sectional Championship, scoring 18 goals and 20 assists in 2003. He was named both the Central Jersey and Union County Player of the Year his senior year, also earning County Player of the Year honors as a junior. He was a member of the New Jersey State ODP team from 1998-2003, winning the Region I Championship this past season. Breznitsky also participated with the USYSA Region I team from 2000-2003. He played his club soccer with the PDA United. Breznitsky is the son of Scotch Plains-Fanwood boy’s soccer head coach, Tom Breznitsky, considered one of the top all-time scholastic boy’s soccer coaches in the state of New Jersey. Breznitsky’s team at Scotch-Plains Fanwood knocked Gray’s high school team at Middletown South out of the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group III final, in a 4-2 shootout.
“We are delighted that Ryan has decided to attend Rutgers,” said Reasso. “Ryan is a gifted athlete and a very experienced player, who can play a number of positions. He comes from a great high school program where he has excelled. We expect him to come in and compete for a starting spot right away.”
Martenson is about to begin his senior season of high school soccer at James Wood High School in Winchester, VA, as Virginia holds their traditionally season in the spring. He is entering his fourth year as a member of the varsity team. Martenson is considered one of the top defenders in the state, earning All-State Group AA, and All-Region honors last spring. He is also a three-time All-District performer. He has played on the Virginia State ODP team the past eight years from 1997 through 2004. He was also a member of the 2003 Region I Team and played on the 1985’s region team at the 2004 Inter-regional Event at the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA. Martenson played his club ball with the DC United Y-League Team the past two seasons, winning the Mid-Atlantic Division U-18 Championship in 2002. His U-18 club was also a Super Y-League National Finalist and Disney Showcase Semi-finalist that year. The 2003 team competed in the Dallas Cup.
“Jake is a very tough competitor who can play anywhere along the back four,” said Reasso. “He is fast, tough and technical and will compete for a starting spot right away. We see Jake being a leader in our program.”
Simi, a 6-1 forward out of East Brunswick High School, was a First Team All-State selection by the New Jersey Soccer Coaches Association and a Second Team All-State pick by the Star Ledger his senior season. He was also a First Team Group IV pick. Simi was named the Middlesex County Player of the Year and the Home News Tribune Player of the Year in 2003, coming off a 30-goal, 9-assist senior campaign. Named a top-15 All-State player, Simi played in the Senior Showcase Central. He is a three-year varsity member and captained the Bears his senior season. Simi also plays on the varsity basketball team at East Brunswick, averaging 10.0 ppg, this season. He currently plays in the Middletown Soccer Club, for the Celtics. Simi also competed with the East Brunswick Blazers from 1993-2003, where he got the opportunity to train in Rome, Italy. He was a member of the ODP pool in 1999. Simi joins his two sisters, Valerie and Stefanie, who currently attend Rutgers.
“We are very happy that Zach has decided to attend Rutgers,” said Reasso. “He is a true center forward who can hold the ball, beat people and score goals. He reads the game very well and is an excellent passer of the ball. He should have an immediate impact on our program.”
This year’s class comes on the heels of the Scarlet Knights’ 19-member class of a year ago – the deepest in school history.
Rutgers posted an 11-7-4 record in 2003, advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. RU finished fourth in the BIG EAST regular season standings, reaching the semifinals of the conference tournament. The Scarlet Knights ended their season with a loss at No. 21 Akron, 3-2, on Nov. 26, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.