Eight student-athletes have signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Lees-McRae College and play men's soccer in the fall of 2014, announced head coach Lee Squires Wednesday afternoon.
Joining the Bobcat nation and Squires' squad will be Thomas Deeley (Canterbury, New Zealand), Dominique Hooks (Moncks Corner, S.C.), Maurice Kleinert (Hannover, Germany), James Morgan (Newcastle, England), Tyler Pavlet (Goodyear, Ariz.), Nicholas Stover (Titusville, Fla.), William Veloce (Montreal, Canada) and Nathan Watt (Newcastle, England).
The class includes four transfers and four internationals.
"This is without doubt our strongest recruiting class in the last few years in terms of the depth and quality we have brought in. We return 21 players and have lost only three starters from last year's team that had a winning record, so it'll be interesting to see who forces their way in," said Squires. "With the addition of reserve games, it will keep the intensity of training high as every player will be playing games throughout the season. We are eager to get started and see how it all comes together in preseason."
Thomas Deeley Midfielder 5-7 Timaru, New Zealand
Deeley graduated from Timaru Boys' High School in Canterbury, New Zealand, where he holds the career goal record (129) while playing in 114 matches. The Timaru, New Zealand, native was tabbed the MVP for the Tournament at the National Secondary Schools Tournament (2013) and was tabbed captain at his high school.
During his highly-touted career at TBHS he was awarded the MJ Scott Cup for top sportsmanship. He is a member of the Asia Pacific Football Academy and holds the national record for goals in a national championship tournament (13). Deeley is no stranger to success in the classroom while he was named Deputy Head Boy at TBHS. He achieved the NCEA Excellence Endorsement Level 1 & 2 and Merit Endorsement Level 3. During his senior season, he was awarded Old Boys' 75th Jubilee Trophy, which focuses on leadership, scholarship and sportsmanship.
"Tom is a well-rounded student-athlete who will be a member of our Honors Program. On the field, he is lively direct and will provide another attacking dimension to the team," praised Squires. "I am very excited and looking forward to working with Tom."
Deeley is a member of the Northern Hearts AFC club soccer team. He is the son of Steve and Kerry Deeley. He has two brothers, Jack (16) and Ben (14).
He intends on majoring in Psychology.
"I chose LMC because of the incredible location, the diverse academic programs, the intimate student to faculty ratio of 14:1 and not to mention the outstanding soccer program; which collectively inspired me to be a Bobcat," said Deeley. "As a graduate, I will have the opportunity to gain a well-rounded experience and the confidence to elevate my own future."
Dominique Hooks Midfielder 5-9 Moncks Corner, S.C.
Hooks is a transfer from the University of South Carolina-Salkehatchie. During his time there, he was the senator for West Campus Student Government Association. The Moncks Corner, S.C., native was the recipient of the LIFE academic scholarship, twice, while being awarded the Scurry Foundation academic scholarship as a sophomore. He worked as a tutor and mentor for elementary school children.
Prior to USC-Salkehatchie, Hooks graduated from Berkeley High School in Moncks Corner, S.C. He was the first male player in school history to be awarded a college soccer scholarship. He was a four-year starter while leading the team in scoring and assists as a junior and senior.
"Dom is comfortable on the ball and does the simple things well," said Squires. "He will add experience to our roster coming in as a junior and is versatile enough to play at the back or in midfield, adding depth to our squad."
Hooks is a member of the Goose Creek United club team.
He is the son of David and Angela Hooks. He has an older brother, David Jr. and an older sister, Noelle. He intends on majoring in Criminal Justice.
"I chose LMC because of the reputation with its academic and athletic departments. The facilities and campus are really nice and I like the small campus feel," spoke Hooks. "I also chose LMC because coach Squires came from the LMC program. He has a vision for success that will make each one of us on the team better players and students."
Maurice Kleinert Defender 6-2 Hannover, Germany
Kleinert is transfer from the University of Mobile, where he appeared in five matches, including three starts. He played for Hannover 96, which is the Academy of Bundesliga Club squad.
"Left back is a position I have targeted for a while. Maurice will give us great balance down the left and has all the physical, technical, tactical, and mental attributes to play a big role for us," praised Squires. "He comes from one of the nation's top NAIA programs in Mobile, and that extra experience and knowledge of college soccer will serve him and us well."
He is the son of Dennis and Beatrix Kleinert. He has one sister, Larissa. He intends on majoring in Business Administration.
"I want to gain some new experience and improve myself further," said Kleinert. "Therefore I chose LMC because it will give me new academic and athletic opportunities."
James Morgan Defender 5-8 Newcastle, England
Morgan is a member of the Newcastle United Football Club. He was awarded a two-year youth scholarship at the age of 16. During his time with Newcastle, Morgan has played against some of the top teams in England and across Europe and the world.
He graduated from St. Thomas More Roman Catholic Academy.
"James is a strong defender with the ability to go forwards and start attacking opportunities. He possesses good pace and has played at the highest level in England. He can play a couple of different positions at the back and in midfield and that versatility could prove vital for us," said Squires. "Being good friends with Nathan Watt will help both guys settle quickly, and James has the ability to make a massive impact right away."
He is the son of Mark Morgan and Sara Shaw. He has one sister, Maisie Shaw. Morgan intends to major in Athletic Training.
"Lees-McRae seems like a great place to further my education and my soccer career," said Morgan. "The college looks great and I can't wait to start playing soccer in the U.S. This opportunity is great and I'm proud to be joining the Bobcats in August."
Tyler Pavlet Goalkeeper 6-2 Goodyear, Ariz.
Pavlet is a product of Millennium High School, where he was a four-year varsity starter and three-time team captain. The Goodyear, Ariz., native was an all-state honorable mention (2011-14) while earning all-region honorable mention (2010).
Pavlet enjoyed a successful senior year while being named to the all-section second-team and a member of the 2014 Arizona State Cup Championship team with U-18 Sereno Soccer Club. He was named to the AIA Division I second-team and AIA Division I Section 1 first-team (2011).
"Tyler comes from one of the top club teams in the country and is a player I have seen several times over the last couple of years," praised Squires. "He has all the tools to carry on our tradition of having top class goalkeepers at LMC. Under Thomas Rusling's guidance he will develop and compete for the starting position right away."
While at MHS, he completed multiple honor and AP classes while serving as a student council delegate for over two years.
He is the son of Brian and Lisa Pavlet. He has one sibling, Zane. Pavlet intends majoring in Sports Administration.
"I chose Lees-McRae for the personal academic setting and the Sports Administration program. The program has a wide range of options that will help keep me well rounded in the job market," said Pavlet. "I also chose Lees-McRae for the outstanding soccer program. The coaches have a good style of play and I hope to excel with their leadership."
Nicholas Stover Goalkeeper 6-2 Titusville, Fla.
Stover is a transfer from Peach Belt Conference representative Francis Marion. He produced a stellar year with the Patriots while appearing and starting 18 matches. Stover impressed with a 1.08 goals against average and 75 saves. He sported a .798 save percentage while tallying six shutouts. The Titusville, Fla., native was tabbed PBC Goalkeeper of the Week Sept. 16.
Prior to FMU, Stover graduated from Titusville High School. He was an AP Scholar and named to the all-conference first-team for three consecutive years.
"Nick came to us at a time when we really needed more depth at the GK position. Not only will he provide that, but he will no doubt push for a starting spot," said Squires. "He has experience at this level having started every game as a freshman for FMU, so he knows the region and the level required to succeed. He has a great presence about him and his experience could prove crucial."
Stover is the son of Billy and Tera Stover. He has two brothers, Travis, who plays for LMC, and Dallas. He intends on majoring International Business.
"I chose LMC because my brother is attending the school and playing for the LMC men's soccer team," said Stover. "I wanted a change of scenery and a spot where I could get the most out of my college experience in both sports and academics."
William Veloce Midfielder 5-7 Montreal, Canada
Veloce is a graduate of Royal Vale High School and played club soccer for Notre Dame de Grace.
"William is bright young man with fantastic maturity and a great attitude. He is very competitive, yet clam and composed in possession. He has two good feet and understands the game at a high level," praised Squires. "He certainly has the ability to make an impact and I look forward to working with Will."
He is the son of Maddelena Velenosi and has three siblings, Anthony, Karim and Enrico Veloce.
He intends on majoring in Sports Administration.
"I chose Lees-McRae as they are well renowned for their academic and athletic departments. In addition, the location is ideal and I am excited for the opportunity," an enthused Veloce said. "I look forward to enhancing my academic and athletic abilities using the school's resources."
Nathan Watt Midfielder 5-8 Newcastle, England
Watt is a product of Gateshead College in Newcastle, England. He was a member of the league and county cup winning squad with Gateshead FC Youth Alliance. Watt has a predicted distinction profile for BTEC in Sports & Exercise Science.
"Nathan quickly became my number one target as it he will fit in perfectly to the style of play we want to put out there. There was a lot of interest in him, and I am delighted he committed his future to LMC," commended Squires. "Nathan has great pace, close control, will score and create goals, and can run all day as his fitness levels are astounding! He and James (childhood friends) will make a big difference to our team."
He played club soccer for the New Hartley Juniors team.
Watt is the son of Tim and Jayne Watt. He has two sisters, Megan and Beth. Both sisters played soccer at Lincoln Memorial.
"I chose LMC because from what I have been told by Squires I am joining a great team who has a good future ahead of them which I can't wait to be a part of," said Watt. "The facilities that are available look great and the area that I am moving to looks like a lovely place to live in."
"It is worth noting too, that Austin Rogers from Portland was committed until he ultimately signed a professional contract in Greece, showing our ability to attract professional level talent and we wish him the best of luck," noted Squires.