PISCATAWAY, NJ – Rutgers men’s soccer head coach Bob Reasso, who begins his 25th season this fall, announced his 10-member recruiting class, which includes a wealth of experience.
With a clearly-defined goal of becoming more experienced, the coaching staff set out in search of some older players. While signing five student-athletes out of high school, Reasso and his staff brought in three international players with an abundance of experience who each possess great knowledge of the game through competition overseas. Keeping its main goal in mind, Rutgers completed its class with a pair of transfers who have proven themselves at the Division I level.
Included in the class are forwards Paul Johnson (Princeton, NJ), Chris Moore (Newcastle, England) and Bojan Skoric (Osijek, Croatia), midfielders Tomislav Barisic (Osijek, Croatia), Joe Cartwright (Cincinnati, OH), Adam Lloyd (Warwick, NY), Joe Lyonnais (Fredericksburg, VA) and Chad Salyer (Trophy Club, TX) and goal keepers Matt VanOekel (Chesapeake, VA) and Jake Weinberg (Highland Park, NJ).
“With a thin senior class due to the NCAA probation we have been under the last four years, one of the things we looked to do with this year’s class is get older,” said Reasso. “Now that we are back to full strength, we want to get back to the NCAA Tournament where we belong. We feel the young guys on our team learned a great deal through their experience last season and adding a crop of highly-experienced newcomers will help us compete right away.”
Barisic and Skoric are a pair of Croatian standouts who will join the Scarlet Knights in the fall. Both are from Osijek, Croatia and played together at the high school level for I. Gimnazija where they led their school to the city championship title in 2002 and placed third in 2003. Both are 20 years old, but will have four years of eligibility remaining beginning this fall.
Barisic played for the Croatian Youth National Team. He played on the F.C. Osijek club team for 10 seasons through 2004 and guided his team to the National Cup in 2002, while winning the City, Province and Regional Cup each season. Barisic joined F.C. Metalac in 2004 where he led the squad to a fifth-place finish in the second division.
Skoric played his club ball with F.C. Olimpija from 1997 to 2004 before playing one season with Barisic on F.C. Metalac. The 6-2 Skoric was an offensive threat for F.C. Metalac, scoring 20 goals in 17 games from 2003 to 2004. He led F.C. Olimpija in scoring with 86 goals in 68 games in his final three years with the club.
“Tomislav and Bojan are both good students, which is something we look for,” said Reasso. “Tomislav is a very crafty and skillful center midfielder or left wing. He comes here with a lot of experience and a bright future. He can have an impact right away. Bojan is a big kid who has exceptional speed. He is a pure center forward who can score goals with either foot.”
Cartwright has led Walnut Hills High School in both goals and assists in his three seasons of competition. He missed his entire junior season after suffering a broken leg but showed no ill effects from the injury last fall. The midfielder earned Second-Team All-State and NSCAA/adidas All-Region honors last fall. Cartwright was a First-Team Fort Ancient Valley Conference Buckeye Division selection as a senior after leading the conference in scoring. The 6-2 Cartwright was also a Senior Southwest Ohio All-Star selection in 2004. He played on the Ohio State ODP team from 2000-2004 and the USYS Region II Team in 2004 and 2005.
“Joe is another big kid who moves well,” said Reasso. “He is a state and regional player with a lot of experience. Joe is very versatile and technical. He should fight for playing time right away.”
Johnson, a Princeton native, is coming back home where he starred scholastically as an All-American at the Hun School. The senior transfer from the University of Virginia is a proven player at the Division I level. He played in 52 career games with the Cavaliers, including several NCAA Tournament contests. He tallied three goals and four assists at UVA, while serving as both an attacker and a defender for the Cavaliers. Johnson was a member of the U.S. U-17 National Team and was a U.S. U-20 National Team pool player in high school. He earned three letters at the Hun School where he was a two-time NSCAA All-American and a two-time Parade All-American selection. Johnson was also a three-time All-Mercer County, All-State Prep A and All-Conference MAPL League pick in high school.
“Coming out of high school Paul was considered one of the best players in the country,” said Reasso. “He has played a lot of matches for Virginia with a good amount of NCAA Tournament games under his belt. He is another big, powerful player with a lot of experience. It is always nice to have a Jersey guy come home.”
Lloyd was a four-year varsity starter and a two-year captain as a midfielder at Warwick High School. He was voted the team captain and Most Valuable Player his final two years, also earning First-Team All-County selections in 2003 and 2004. Lloyd also enjoyed success as a member of Warwick’s track team, where he captained the indoor squad and was the team’s Most Valuable Player his final two seasons. Lloyd was a two-time track All-America selection in 2004 and 2005. He possess exceptional speed, running the 400 meter race in 48 seconds, which would have placed him among the top five finishers at the 2005 BIG EAST Championships. Lloyd played his club ball with the Ramapo Valley Tornadoes from 2001-2005.
“Adam is an exceptional athlete,” said Reasso. “He is a powerful runner who can play with both feet, which makes him a big threat to opposing defenders. Instead of playing ODP or regional ball, he enjoyed great success as a track athlete. I think he has a tremendous upside. He reminds me of (former Rutgers soccer All-American) Josh Gros when he first came to Rutgers.”
Lyonnais is an All-State attacker out of Massaponax High School in Fredericksburg, VA, where the traditional soccer season competes in the spring. He led his school to the Commonwealth District and NW Regional title in 2004. Lyonnais was selected to the Virginia High School Coaches Association All-Star Team this season, scoring the winning goal in a victory over Blacksburg High School, ending the school’s 87-game winning streak. He was an All-Area, All-State and All-Region pick as a junior in 2004, with this season’s post season awards yet to be released. Lyonnais was a three-year starter for Massaponax, serving as the team’s defender in 2003 and 2004, before moving up front to attack as a senior this spring. Lyonnais is a Virginia Scholar Athlete and a United States Army Reserve National Scholar Athlete winner. He played on both the Virginia State ODP team and Region I ODP team.
“Joey is a gifted, technical player with great ability to go by people,” said Reasso. “He can play a lot of different positions, which is very valuable for a freshman. We expect him to come in and fight for playing time right away.”
Salyer, an attacking center midfielder, scored 46 goals, adding 62 assists in three seasons at Northwest High School in Trophy Club, TX. He was a First Team All-State selection and First-Team All-Area pick by the Dallas Morning News and Ft. Worth Star Telegram. Salyer earned District MVP honors in 2005. He earned the school’s Most Valuable Player award. Salyer played club ball with both the American Eagles and Dallas Comets. He is the younger brother of Philip Salyer, the current starting defender for FC Dallas of the MLS.
“Chad is an exceptional attacking player,” said Reasso. “He can penetrate and score goals when he needs to. He is a very gifted athlete with a history of success in his family.”
Moore, a native of Newcastle, England, has excelled in soccer at every level in the country. He led Gosforth High School to three country titles. Moore played for Newcastle United Youth teams from ages 16 to 19. He has played with both the Manchester United and Manchester City Youth Teams as well. The forward played several years of club ball with his most recent action occurring with FC Whitley Bay. Moore also played rugby and cricket scholastically. He will be 21 years old in the fall with three years of eligibility remaining.
“Chris has the talent to play professionally in England,” said Reasso. “He is a fast, technical player with a tremendous amount of experience at a very high level of soccer. He has the ability to beat defenders, score goals and make goals.”
VanOekel comes to Rutgers from Longwood University where he served as the team’s goalkeeper under former Rutgers standout and former Longwood University head coach Dave Barrueta. A native of Chesapeake, VA, VanOekel, 6-4, starred at Great Bridge High School where he was the starting goalkeeper. VanOekel will be a sophomore with three years of eligibility remaining in the fall.
“Matt is a big, strong, athletic goalkeeper in the mold of (former Rutgers All-American goalkeeper) Jon Conway,” Reasso said. “He is 6-4, which gives him a tremendous size advantage. He has Division I experience as well which is a major asset. I expect him to push for the starting goalkeeper job.”
Weinberg remains close to home where he starred at nearby Highland Park High School, where he served as the Owl’s starting goalkeeper the past three seasons. Weinberg set the school record for shutouts in a season with 11 as a senior. He keyed Highland Park to the Greater Middlesex Conference Gold Division title as a junior in 2003. He is a three-time All-Division selection. Weinberg is also a member of Highland Park’s baseball team, where he served as the team’s designated hitter.
“We have known about Jake for many years; his parents are both Rutgers graduates and we are glad to see him stay close to home,” said Reasso. “He is a very athletic and very competitive young man.”
Rutgers, which finished 6-8-4 last season, will open its 2005 season with an exhibition contest against George Mason at Yurcak Field on Wednesday, Aug. 24. The Scarlet Knights kick off the regular season against San Diego State in the Philips/adidas Rutgers Classic at Yurcak Field, Friday, Sept. 2.