EDWARDSVILLE, ILL. – SIUE men's soccer coach Kevin Kalish has announced that 10 newcomers will join the team when it takes the field this fall.
Freshmen Justin Bilyeu (St. Louis), Nicholas Cherry (O' Fallon), Tanner Fink (East Alton), Joey Ruppert (Libertyville), Ben Sauerwein (Belleville), and Jake Wieser (St. Louis) will join transfers Sean Baumann (Makanda), Kenny Giacobbe (Glen Carbon), Sean Kuster (Ballwin, Mo.) and Christian Volesky (Henderson, Nev.) who have all agreed to play soccer at SIUE.
"This class took us a bit longer than usual to put together, but we feel this is truly an outstanding group of student-athletes. We are excited about their potential on the field and believe they will embrace and fit in our culture," said SIUE Head Coach Kevin Kalish. "We have strengthened our team in key areas on the field. Integrating this class with a hungry and talented returning group has our coaching staff excited about our team for the fall."
A 6-foot, 2-inch defender/midfielder from CBC High School and the St. Louis Scott Gallagher U18 U.S. Development Academy, Justin was an All-Region, All-State, and All-Metro selection as a senior at CBC while leading them to a Missouri state championship in 2009. He also was tabbed as the No. 83 ranked recruit in the United States by TopDrawerSoccer.com; the No. 1-ranked player in the Heartland Region, and the No. 18 ranked defender in the country by TopDrawerSoccer.com. He recently was voted Most Valuable Player of the Missouri High School All-Star game.
Kalish on Bilyeu: "Justin has many of the tools to be a top player in college soccer. He is one of the best pure strikers of the ball that I have seen over the years. He has tremendous size and has shown the ability to play as a left back, left midfielder, or even in the center of the field. His distribution on the ball and range of passing is what truly sets him apart from his peers."
Kalish on Cherry: "Nick is a powerful, athletic defender with a strong personality. He possesses great leadership qualities and competitive intangibles on the field that we value here at SIUE. We believe that Nick will continue to grow as a player and his best years are yet to come."
Kalish on Fink: "What attracted us to Tanner is his work ethic, positive attitude, and willingness to work his way up the depth chart. Tanner is a quality shot stopper with very good instincts. He will provide depth to our goalkeeper position for next season."
Kalish on Ruppert: "Joey is a very athletic flank player who loves to compete and has a nose for the goal. I first saw Joey live at our Senior Boys Residential Prospect Camp camp last fall after he was recommended by a good friend and well-respected Chicago youth coach, Mike Litvack. We felt he could stretch the field for us and give us an added dimension that we had been missing in previous years. Plus, he fit the criteria that our staff sought out in this year's class which was to find competitors first and foremost."
Kalish on Sauerwein: "Ben is a gritty, determined midfielder who is willing to roll up his sleeves and do the dirty work. He has spent over four years in the U.S Development Academy getting instructed by some of the best coaches in the country. We feel that experience, along with Ben's character and competitiveness, will allow him to compete on a daily basis as he grows and learns our system."
Kalish on Wieser: "Jake possesses a lot of the characteristics we want in an SIUE player. He is an intense competitor, honest, and can play a number of positions. We see Jake mostly playing as a wide back in our system for the future. With his big engine, tough one-versus-one defending and tenacity, we feel he will be a player who gets the job done week in and week out."
A 5-10 defender/midfielder transfer from Mercer University. Baumann had a decorated career as a four-year varsity starter under Head Coach Mike Cannell at Carbondale Community High School. He scored 74 goals in four seasons and set the single-season record with 37 goals as a senior. He also led CCHS to the Regional Title and an appearance in the Sectional finals as a senior and was named to the South Seven All-Conference first team and the Illinois All-State first team as both a junior and senior. Baumann showed an excellent balance on and off the field after being voted an All-Midwest Scholar Athlete and a Scholar All-American Team selection as a senior.
Kalish on Baumann: "Sean is a hard-working, versatile player who will compete for time in the midfield and wide back position for us. He is constantly working and improving his game as he has played a multitude of positions while playing for St. Louis Scott Gallagher Metro in the U.S Development Academy and also at Mercer."
A 6-1 center back who began his career at Missouri State in 2009, Giacobbe played four seasons at Edwardsville High School and for St. Louis Scott Gallagher Metro. He was an Illinois All-State selection as a senior when he led the Tigers to a second-place finish at state. He was also a two-time All-Southwestern Conference first-team pick.
Kalish on Giacobbe: "Kenny has all the tools necessary to compete for the starting center back's job this fall. He has good size, reads the game well, and can pass out of the back with composure. He has finally got himself in top form physically which was the biggest reason for his prior setbacks. If he can come in and play with confidence, he will be a significant contributor for us this season."
Kuster is a 6-1 midfielder who previously played at UMKC in 2010 while appearing in 14 games for the Kangaroos as a freshman. Prior to entering college, Kuster played four years of varsity soccer at CBC leading them to a Class 3A state title while scoring 42 goals and added 38 assists in his four years at CBC.
Kalish on Kuster: "Sean has shown that he can play at an extremely high level as he possesses a keen awareness and knowledge for the game. He has the ability to play a number of different positions and can create goals through his technique, intelligence, and work rate."
Volesky is a 6-1 forward who spent the 2011 season at the University of Denver where he led the Pioneers with 13 points on six goals and an assist. Prior to attending Denver, Volesky played for the Downtown Las Vegas SC with current Cougar Matt Polster and four years at Foothills High School in Henderson, Nev. He was twice named as Team MVP and was a three-year team captain at Foothills.
Kalish on Volesky: "Christian is a difference maker at the Division I level because he can score goals, stretch teams with his pace, and also possesses the ability to combine and hold the ball. We recruited Christian out of high school and always valued his abilities on the field and as a teammate. He will fit in well with our current crop of forwards and will add a dimension to our team that we have been looking for in recent years."
The Cougars open the 2012 regular season Aug. 24 at Virginia Tech. SIUE's first regular season home match is scheduled for Sept. 7 when the Cougars entertain DePaul.