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Southern Oregon introduces 15 newcomers

At this time a year ago, Biniam Afenegus was still scrambling to put together a roster as he prepared to lead the Southern Oregon University men's soccer team into its inaugural season.

Afenegus went on to discover a solid foundation as the Raiders exceeded expectations with a record of 10-8, and the veteran head coach has another batch of appealing building blocks set to arrive on campus this fall. Sixteen newcomers, including five in-state products and the program's first international student-athletes (from Ecuador), will join the team when it opens practice on Aug. 8. The group comprises 10 freshmen and five transfers.

"This is a recruiting class that our staff is really excited about," Afenegus said. "We've continued to work hard to attract quality players and people to our program and we're bringing in a group that will add quality in all facets of the game. Above all is the competitive greatness they'll bring to our program; each one of the recruits loves to play and loves to compete."

The Raiders, who went 5-8 in the Cascade Conference last year and got 31 of their 38 goals from freshmen — will return 21 players from last year's roster. Their season-opener is slated for Aug. 23 at Humboldt State (Calif.) and they'll open at home on Sept. 7 against George Fox.

"Before last season, we got started recruiting late in the game but I still think we got some strong players to start a program with," said Afenegus, who was hired just seven months prior to the team's first game. "After playing in the conference for the first time and seeing what we're up against, we had a better understanding of what kind of players are going to be successful."

Afenegus plans to annouce two more international signings in the coming days.

JARED DELANEY, midfielder

About: Delaney was a three-time all-conference selection and twice was on the all-state second team. As a senior, his team won its third straight conference title and advanced to the state semifinals. In the classroom he was a perennial scholar athlete and earned an Honors Diploma. He intends to major in biology.

KELLY GIEBER, midfielder

About: Gieber was tabbed the Intermountain Conference player of the year and a first-team all-state performer after posting 16 goals and 18 assists as a senior. He pushed the Lava Bears to a league title and an appearance in the 5A state quarterfinals in 2015 after a junior campaign in which he had eight goals and 12 assists for all-league accolades. He plans to major in chemistry.

CHASE GRAY, forward

About: A four-year honor roll student, Gray led McClatchy in scoring each of his last two years. Gray intends to major in business.

LOGAN GULER, defender

About: After being named his team's defensive MVP his last two years at Folsom High, Guler did the same at Folsom Lake. As a sophomore he was a first-team all-conference pick, and as a freshman he was named a conference Scholar Athlete.

ZAC HANSEN, midfielder

About: Hansen was selected as the Capital Athletic League's offensive player of the year as a senior at Rio Americano and was all-league as a junior. Hansen intends to major in environmental studies.

TRAVIS HOPKINS, midfielder

About: Hopkins started 21 games in two seasons at Northwest in Powell, Wyoming. His team placed third in the conference both years while he earned an associate degree of applied science in photographic communications. At Sutherlin he was the school's student-athlete of the year as a senior as well as a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and on the field he was All-Far West League three times. He intends to study art, graphic design and multimedia at SOU.

BRYANT JOLMA, defender

About: A teammate of Gieber's on Bend's conference title team, Jolma was on the All-Intermountain Conference's second team as a junior and first team as a senior. He intends to major in business.

ROBERTO LUPERA, midfielder

About: Lupera, a true freshman, will add speed and craftiness as an attacking midfielder for the Raiders. He has been the leading scorer for his club team the last two years and is believed to be SOU's first scholarship athlete from Ecuador.

CARLOS MAGAÑA, forward

About: Magaña joins the Raiders after spending his freshman season at Trinity Lutheran College, where he was a National Christian College Athletic Association Western Region all-star forward. At Highland he became the first in his family to graduate high school while putting together a standout athletic career. As a senior, he was a first-team all-state selection after leading his team to a 1A state title, and the Scotties won their league four straight seasons.

DANIEL McDEVITT, defender

About: McDevitt was a first-team all-conference performer three times at Lakeland and was all-state first team as a senior. His team won league and district titles and was an Idaho state finalist in 2015. McDevitt's father, Shawn, played soccer at University of Portland. He intends to major in outdoor adventure leadership.

MICHAEL MILLER, midfielder/forward

About: Miller scored 50 goals in his four-year varsity career for the Tigers, including 20 last year as a senior. He was a league all-star three times and a section and county all-star as a senior, when he led Edison to a County/Metro Athletic Conference title. The honor roll student plans to study kinesiology at SOU.

MITCHELL PINNEY, forward

About: As a freshman in the junior college ranks, Pinney registered four goals and seven assists for Northwest. At Hockinson he was a four-time all-state performer, netting 61 goals during his prep career. He was twice named his league's offensive player of the year.

JOSUE REYES, defender/forward

About: The local product scored nine goals as a junior for the Panthers and five as a senior while being named his team's defensive MVP. The four-year letterwinner was a two-time All-Southwest Conference selection and helped the Panthers to an SWC title in 2015. Reyes intends to major in business marketing.

JONAS VERRINDER, defender

About: Verrinder was a standout defender for Skyview and was also a member of the cross country team. At SOU, he intends to join the pre-physician assistant program.

WYATT ZABINSKI, goalkeeper

About: Zabinksi will add more size at goalkeeper for the Raiders after a stellar prep career at Boulder Creek. This year his club team won the Arizona State Cup. He intends to major in biology.