NC State's George Asomani Is Looking To Make The Most Of An Uncertain Season - By Dela Agbotse

College soccer is reeling from the effects of the covid-19 pandemic with powerhouse soccer conferences including the Big East, Big Ten and PAC 12 opting to postpone soccer for the fall season. The Atlantic Coast Conference on the other hand will be playing a modified season and NC State midfield talisman George Asomani will be looking to make the most of it.

The Ghanaian is entering his senior year at NC State, having started 18 games for the wolfpack in 2019 as a junior. Nicknamed “Maestro” for his ability to control a game from midfield, Asomani will be raring to go, when the season resumes. Prior to NC state, Asomani played two seasons at Monroe College where he was an NJCAA First Team All-American in 2018.

Asomani cemented his reputation in college soccer in 2019 as one of college soccer’s most exciting midfield players with some exceptional displays for NC State. Asomani is something of a throwback, as he's a player at the core of the wolfpack who can do a bit of everything. Indeed, he plays with a spark in the middle of the park, with the ability to cut off passing lanes and hound opponents in possession. It's on the ball, as a playmaker where he's most effective, the Ghanaian possesses an excellent passing range, a turn of pace and feet that allow him to slalom past opponents.

Asomani has room to improve but is already one of the top players in the ACC and in college soccer as evidenced in his recent selection to the ACC men’s soccer pre-season watchlist for 2020. With the ACC college soccer regular season fast approaching, the young Ghanian has one thing on his mind and that is to show his full ability at the college level and continue to work towards his dream of playing professional soccer.  

Like so many who reach the top of their profession, it's been a difficult route to get to where he is today, from the streets of Accra to Dail soccer stadium. The sky’s the limit for the young Ghanian who will be fully focused on the task at hand when the Wolfpack travel to Durham to kickoff their regular season against a difficult opponent in Duke on Saturday September 26.

Dela Agbotse is a contributing writer for College Soccer News. 

College Soccer. Opportunity Will Knock For These Difference Makers and Impact Players.

College Soccer News takes a look at some of the players from coast to coast who will play a key role in the level of success their teams will have in the fall or spring and explains why they are important ingredients. 

Grayson Barber– Junior – Midfielder – Clemson – The Tigers have to address the productivity that they will be without due to the departure of Hermann Trophy winner Robbie Robinson (18g, 9a). Don’t overlook the significance of the contribution that Barber has in Clemson’s high-octane Tiger offense. He is a game-changing player. Last year he scored ten goals and led Clemson in game-winners with four. He also contributed nine assists. Barber adds balance and explosiveness to what should again be a potent and multi-dimensional Tiger attack in 2020.

Paul Bin – Redshirt Senior – Forward – Maryland – The Terps are very tough to top when they are able to apply pressure, create turnovers, and quickly press the attack.  Bin is back after missing the 2019 season due to an ACL injury. He played a key role in Maryland’s run to the national championship in 2018. Bin is an exciting playmaker with the speed and quickness to stir up opposing defenders and enhance the effectiveness of the Terp’s pressure-oriented style of play.

Aris Briggs – Senior – Forward – Georgia State – Briggs is a prime timer who has been a difference maker on the offensive side of the ball for Georgia State.  He will be heavily marked and perhaps double-teamed at times in 2020. Briggs’ ability to continue to come up with the big plays while being a heavily marked man will have a huge impact of the level of productivity that the Panthers have in 2020.

Nathan Crofts – Senior – Forward – Virginia – Crofts (6g, 3a) is a three-year starter and playmaker who the Cavaliers will depend on to play a key role in filling the void that exists on the offensive side of the ball due to the departure of forwards Daryl Dike (10g, 8a) and Daniel Steedman (3g, 7a) and midfielder Joe Bell (7g, 4a). Crofts is primed and prepared for a productive 2020 season.

Jack Doran – Graduate Student – Midfielder – Duke – Doran, a team captain, missed the 2019 season due to injury. He was a starter as an outside midfielder for the Blue Devils in 2017 and 2018. Doran along with veteran goalkeeper Will Pulisic and defender Matthias Frick will bring sturdy play, experience, and leadership to a Duke squad that returns five starters from the 2019 season and will likely lean heavily on a highly regarded eleven-member recruiting class. 

Emil Elveroth – Senior - Forward – Louisville – Elveroth had two very productive seasons at UNCW before transferring to Louisville last year. He started seventeen games for the Cardinals in 2019 and contributed three goals. Elveroth is a goal scorer who now has the advantage of a year of play at Louisville. He enters his final season at Louisville with the potential to give the Cardinals the additional punch they need on the offensive side of the ball to move upward in the highly competitive Atlantic Coast Conference hierarchy.

Owen Finnerty – Sophomore - Goalkeeper – Michigan – The Wolverines had a program best 0.79 goals against average last year. Finnerty entered the starting lineup at Michigan in 2019 when standout netminder Andrew Verdi was injured.  He held his own in goal during the seven contests in which he was Michigan’s starting goalkeeper. The experience Finnerty gained last year and the grit he displayed bodes well for continued success for Finnerty and the Wolverines. 

Drew Fisher – Sophomore – Forward – Colgate – Colgate needs to up its productivity on the offensive side of the ball in order to increase their win total. Last year they only scored a total of sixteen times. Fisher had a promising freshman season in 2019 during which he started eighteen contests and contributed four goals and three assists. If Fisher gets the traditional freshman to sophomore bump in the level of his play, he could prove to be a headliner and just what the doctor ordered for the Raider offense. 

Jacob Graiber – Graduate Student – Defender – UIC – The Flames won the Horizon League regular season title last year but their season came to an unexpected end when they were upset by Wright State in the Horizon League Tournament. Graiber, who was the 2019 Horizon League Defender of the Year, has been an iron man and impact player for UIC since joining the program in 2017. Whenever the Flames return to the field you can count on rock solid play and leadership from Graiber. 

Mitch Guitar – Senior – Midfielder – Wisconsin – Guitar, a 2018 All-Big Ten Second Team selection, returns after missing the 2019 season due to injury. He is among several potential difference makers at Wisconsin who were either unable to play in 2019 or hampered by injury.  A healthy Guitar will add additional skill and toughness to a Wisconsin team that seeks to rebound from an injury hampered three win 2019 season.

Brandon Hackenberg – Red Shirt Senior – Defender – Penn State – The trend line is upward for the Nittany Lions who improved from six wins in 2018 to twelve wins in 2019. Improvement in offensive productivity from eighteen goals in 2018 to thirty-eight in 2019 was a big factor in that. The departure of Aaron Molloy (9g, 6a), the 2019 Big Ten Midfielder of the Year, creates a big gap on the offensive side of the ball that sophomore forward Liam Butts will hope to help address. However, solid play and leadership on the defensive side of the ball is equally important for continued success in Jeff Cooks third year at the helm of the program. Hackenberg is the guy with the athletic ability, experience and grit to provide that.

Ids Hannema – Junior – Forward – Wright State – The Raiders will seek to build on a historic 2019 season in which they secured the program’s first ever Horizon League Championship, first ever berth in the NCAA Tournament, and first ever win in the NCAA Tournament. However, they will have to do it without the firepower that midfielders Deri Corfe (14g, 8a), Stefan Rokvic (9g, 5a) and Jackson Dietrich (6g, 7a) provided. Hannema (7g, 2a), who appeared in twenty-one contests with sixteen starts last year, is among the returning players who will be counted upon to fill the rather big void that exists and keep the momentum alive.

Eric Iloski – Senior – Midfielder – UCLA – Iloski enters his senior season at UCLA with three years of starting experience under his belt. He is among the veteran Bruin players who must set the pace and provide leadership in order for UCLA to move upward in the Pac-12 conference and begin to regain the standing the program used to enjoy on the national scene.

Carson Jeffris – Red Shirt Senior – Forward – James Madison – Jeffris played in only eight contests last year with four starts due to injury. In 2018 he appeared in twenty-two games with eight goals and four assists. JMU looks to be in a rebuilding mode in 2020. A healthy Jeffris could help fill the rather large gap that exists due to departures and add the punch to the attack that JMU will need in order to maintain the level of success they have had the past few seasons. 

Leon Krapf – Redshirt Junior – Goalkeeper – N.C. State – Krapf was the Pack’s starting goalkeeper in 2017 and 2018 but was injured in the first contest of the 2019 season and had to sit out the entire year. He has worked hard to rehab and return to the Wolfpack lineup.  Krapf is a proven and experienced  technician between the pipes whose return is a huge plus for a NC State squad that is eager to get back on the pitch. 

Paulo Lima – Junior - Midfielder – Providence - Lima had a breakout season last year in which he contributed eight goals and two assists and was named an All-Big East Second Team selection. The departure of Trevor Davock (6g, 8a), Joao Serrano (4g, 9a) and Tiago Mendoca (4g, 4a) means that Lima will be among the players who the Friars will count on for offensive productivity whenever they resume competitive play.  

Einar Lye – Junior – Midfielder – St. John’s - Junior forward Tani Oluwaseyi (11g, 5a), who became the first Johnnie to be named the Big East Offensive Player of the Year last year since 1996, returns to power the attack but to be effective the offense has to be multi-dimensional. Lye who contributed five goals and five assists last year has the ability to add the balance to the offense that the Johnnies will need in order to build on a very productive 14-5-1 2019 season.  

Giovanni Montesdeoca – Senior – Forward – North Carolina – Montesdeoca, a starter in 2018 who is back from injury, is a marquee guy with top end touch on the ball and the potential to be a game-changing player. He had a career high eight goals with four assists for the Tar Heels in 2018. His return to the lineup will add an additional dimension to North Carolina’s offensive arsenal.

Daniel Pereira – Sophomore – Midfielder – Virginia Tech – Pereira enters his sophomore season at Virginia Tech off a brilliant freshman campaign during which he exceeded expectations with a five goal and five assist year. It’s likely that Hokie head coach Mike Brizendine thought Pereira would contribute as a freshman. He just didn’t know how much. Pereira’s ability to build on the things he did well last year will factor into the level of success Virginia Tech experiences in 2020.

Veljko Petkovic – Sophomore – Midfielder – Pittsburgh – Petkovic had a formidable freshman season in which he finished second on the team with six goals and five assists. Senior forward Edward Kizza (12g, 4a) will continue to be a force up top. Petkovic’s ability to add balance to the Panther attack and keep it from being one dimensional is a vital element in Pitt’s ongoing effort to take the program to a higher level.

Stefan Sigurdarson – Sophomore – Forward – Boston College – The Eagles have opted out of fall play in the ACC. However, when they do return to the field of play chances are pretty good that Sigurdarson, who is a rising star, will build on a very productive 2019 rookie season during which he led Boston College with eight goals and four assists. Sigurdarson’s offensive prowess will have a big impact on the level of success that Bob Thompson’s team has in his inaugural season as the Eagle head coach.

Tommy Williamson – Senior – Forward – California – Williams is coming off a breakout 2019 campaign during which he led the Golden Bear attack with nine goals and was an All-Pac-12 Second team selection. His ability to build on the success he had last year will be among the key factors that will impact the level of success that California has when they resume play.

Aristotle Zarris – Junior – Midfielder – Wake Forest – The need to replace an All-American is a challenge that Bobby Muuss is familiar with. Filling the void that exists due to the graduation of All-American midfielder Bruno Lapa is the current challenge. Departures at Wake Forest provide the opportunity for someone else to step in. Opportunity knocks for Aristotle Zarris in 2020. He is among a talented and very capable group of returning Demon Deacon midfielders who will have the opportunity to fill the void. In 2018 Zarris contributed five goals and five assists and was named to the All-ACC Freshman team. Last year he scored three goals and added four assists. 

College Soccer - A Look At The Season Opening Contests

It was far from the traditional season opening weekend but nonetheless the fall college soccer season began last week with several interesting early season contests. 

Notre Dame 1 – Kentucky 0 – When defense prevails and only one goal is scored the chances are pretty good that the Irish will prevail which was the case Thursday evening in a season opening 1-0 home victory over Kentucky.  The contest was played without spectators.

A stout Notre Dame defense led by backs graduate student Senan Farrelly, senior Townsend Meyer and sophomores Reese Mayer and Mohammad Abualnadi and senior goalkeeper Keagan McLaughlin contained a potentially explosive Wildcat attack.

Freshman forward Daniel Russo, one of six freshmen who saw action in the contest for the Irish, headed in the lone goal of the evening in the 62nd minute of play out of a corner kick served in in by senior forward Aiden McFadden. Junior forward Jack Lynn, who led the Notre Dame attack last year with ten goals, was only on the pitch for forty-one minutes.

McLaughlin had a four-save evening in goal for Notre Dame to post the shutout for the Irish. Kentucky goalkeeper Enrique Facusse had a two-save evening for the Wildcats.

The Irish are unbeaten in their last ten season openers.

Notre Dame head coach Chad Riley stated, “The guys were great. Credit to Kentucky, they are an unbelievably good team and we are thankful that they came up for this game. I don’t think it could have been a better game for us. We are fortunate to get the goal to win it but Kentucky had some dangerous moments as well.”

Notre Dame will host Pitt on Saturday, September 26. Kentucky will host Duke on Monday, September 21.

Georgia State 2 – Mercer 1 – Georgia State traveled to Betts Stadium in Macon, Georgia on Friday and picked up an impressive season opening win over an always competitive Mercer squad.

Containing senior forward Aris Briggs is a key to topping Georgia State. Mercer was unable to do that. Briggs, the 2019 Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year, was a force once again for the Panthers. Briggs opened the scoring in the tenth minute of the match after receiving a cross from teammate Justin Guest. 

The teams went into intermission with Georgia State ahead 1-0.

Mercer picked up the pace in the second stanza and knotted the score at 1-1 when junior forward Trevor Martineau, a Southern Conference First Team selection in 2018 and 2019, found the back of the net with a double assist from Dylan Gaither and Kevin Kim.

Briggs then netted what proved to be the game-winning goal for Georgia State in the 81st minute of play with George Proctor and Alex Henderson providing the assists.

Mercer returns to the pitch when they host Georgia Southern on Tuesday night. Georgia State travels to face South Carolina on Thursday.

UAB 3 – Central Arkansas 2 – This rather physical contest took place on Saturday in Conway, Arkansas with the outcome a bit of a surprise.

UAB got on the board first when senior midfielder Joseph Buete drove a shot into the bottom left corner of the goal from relatively close range after receiving a cross from freshman Santiago Herrera.

Central Arkansas responded to knot the score at 1-1 when senior midfielder Soren Jensen converted a penalty kick in the 15th minute of the match.

The teams went into halftime with the contest deadlocked at 1-1.  

Central Arkansas took a 2-1 lead in the 53rd minute when sophomore midfielder Edoardo Calzola skillfully threaded a shot into the back of the net with a double assist from sophomore Alexsi Morel and freshman Rubyn Gill.

It felt like momentum had swung to Central Arkansas but things changed when a Central Arkansas handball in the 61st minute resulted in a UAB penalty kick. Senior forward Aodhan O’Hara decisively finished the pk to tie the contest at 2-2. 

The match remained tied at the end of regulation.

In the 95th minute of play Buete scored the game-winning goal for UAB when he placed a shot off the bottom right corner of the goal with an assist from freshman Tyrell Price. It was a solid season opening on the road win for the Blazers.   

UAB head coach Jeff Kinney stated, “I thought it was typical of a first game of the season. Both teams had some chances, and we were fortunate to finish ours. The ones we created were very good goals and we obviously want to continue to build on that.”

UAB travels to Statesboro, Georgia next Saturday to tangle with Georgia Southern. Central Arkansas travels to Lexington, Kentucky to play the University of Kentucky on Friday, October 2.

South Carolina 2 – Georgia Southern 0 – This one was played Saturday night at Stone Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina.

It was a good opening season win for the Gamecocks under the direction of head coach Mark Berson. South Carolina drew first blood when sophomore forward Logan Frost scored what proved to be the game-winning goal in the 32nd minute of play after making a nice move to create the space needed to send a shot into the back of the frame. Sophomore forward Brian Banahan was credited with the assist on the goal.

Banahan made it 2-0 South Carolina when a misplay in the back enabled him to score with a mere ten ticks remaining in the match.

South Carolina had a 16 to 6 advantage in shots for the evening and a 9-0 advantage in corner kicks.

Justin Bauer and Ryan Bilichuk each played a half in goal for South Carolina. Bauer had one save and Bilichuk had three. Jose Eduardo Bomfin had three saves between the sticks for Georgia Southern.

Georgia Southern head coach John Murphy stated, “One game doesn’t make a season. We’re going to dust ourselves off and prepare for a tough game on Tuesday against Mercer. But I think there’s a lot of positives to draw from. We don’t want to lose to anyone at any time, but at the same time, we hae to keep things in perspective.”

South Carolina will host Georgia State on Thursday, September 24.  Georgia Southern will travel to face Mercer on Tuesday, September 22.