In the past 6 years over 130 Grande Sports Academy graduates have gone on to pursue their collegiate soccer careers at various programs of all levels across the country. There are currently a remarkable 21 GSA alums playing at one of the Top 25 ranked NCAA Men’s Soccer programs. With Week 2 of the NCAA Men’s Soccer season completed and Week 3 in progress, many of our Grande Sports Academy alums continue with their impressive performances. Another Grande Sports Academy graduate and a former collegiate star player made news this week as well. Read all about it in this week’s Grande Alums Roundup.
First local GSA academy player from Casa Grande signs with Real Salt Lake
On Tuesday, Ricardo Velazco, a Grande Sports Academy graduate, became the first ever Casa Grande native to sign a professional homegrown contract with Real Salt Lake. Ricardo, one of the most creative and hard-working players ever to play at the academy, is the first player that has gone successfully through all the stages of the player development process: Academy – NCAA Division II college (Cal State San Bernardino) – NCAA Division I college (Louisville) – Real Monarchs – Real Salt Lake. His determination and persistence of chasing his dream are a true testament to his incredible personality and strong character as well as his level of skill and quality. Ricardo comes to Grande Sports Academy for off season training during the summer months and we also look forward to seeing him at the RSL preseason in January. You can see a glimpse of Ricardo’s quality with these 5 remarkable goals he scored for Real Monarchs here.
Herrera continues with his stellar start to the season
Aaron Herrera continued with his incredible performances for the University of New Mexico Men. After being named Conference USA Defensive Player of the Week in the first game of the season, he scored the winning goal in Lobos’ 2-0 win vs Cal Poly on Monday as he tapped in a spectacular goal with his heel. This was the first college career goal for the young right back. Josh Goss, a senior and regular starter for Lobos, played 78min and had one shot at goal. Sam Gleadle, a junior, made another appearance, played 43 minutes and also registered one shot on goal. The fourth Grande alum at UNM, Lucas Seligman, played for 12 minutes.
Jose Hernandez and Erik Holt play part in the trashing of No.1 ranked team
On Monday one of the biggest match ups on college soccer night was No. 9 UCLA facing No.1 Akron. Jose Hernandez and Erik Holt, both long time irreplaceable starters for Grande Sports Academy teams, played all 90 mins and played important roles as UCLA made a statement with a 6-1 trashing of the highest ranked team in the country. Jose scored his first goal of the season and it was a thing of beauty. Erik had a very strong defensive performance on the night as well. Jose continues to standout night in and night out in his sophomore year. He had an outstanding freshman campaign with 11 goals and 4 assists and was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and into the first team All-Pac-12 selection.
Sejdic scores a screamer and helps extend Maryland’s unbeaten streak to 4 games
Amar Sejdic will look to continue his incredible run of form as No. 2 Maryland squares up vs. No. 4 Indiana in a big America East Conference matchup tonight. In the last two games Amar played an important role in his teams two wins vs. Georgetown and University of South Florida scoring a goal and adding 2 more assists. He assisted on the first goal in a 2-1 win over No.24 Georgetown University. Diego Silva, who has been a regular starter in his sophomore year, also played 71 min. Amar scored an absolute rocket and assisted on another in a 4-1 win vs USF. Diego started as well and played 58 min while a freshman Miles Stray added another 10 min to his playing time total in his first year with the Terps. The fourth Grande alum at Maryland, Paul Bin, is still waiting for his first playing opportunity.
Four Grande alums contribute to a winning start of the season at Utah Valley University
No. 8 Utah Valley University’s Alec Felix and Gui Lemme each started in one of their last two games and both played a part in two new wins for the Wolverines who remain undefeated in their first three games of the season. Gui had an assist in the 4-2 win. In their first game of the season at the end of last month, Gui and McKay Eves started in the 2-1 win over Washington and Gui had an assist in that game as well. All three Grande alums at UVU are freshmen this year and there is clearly a very bright future ahead of them all. They will have a new opportunity to prove themselves tonight already as they face another team with a 3-0-0 record in No. 28 Loyola-Chicago. Good luck boys!
Tate Schmitt scores his first goal of the season in a win over UConn
Jack Gayton and Tate Schmitt both started in Louisville Cardinals’ 2-0 win over UConn. Tate Schmitt, a Phoenix, AZ native playing in his sophomore year, scored the second goal of the game to seal the win for the Cards. This was his first goal of the sophomore season after scoring 7 goals and adding 4 assists to his tally in his first year at Louisville. Both of them also started in their 0-1 loss to University of Kentucky.
Newly transferred Bay Kurtz fitting the Cavaliers locker room nicely
Bay Kurtz and Terrell Lowe both started in Virginia’s 3-1 win over James Madison. Terrell started in all three games to start his freshman year on a good note. Bay, who joined the Cavaliers before the start of the 2016 spring season after spending his first two years at Liberty University (2 goals & 7 assists in 31 matches), started in the last two games. Next up is a battle vs Wake Forest and their friend from Grande days, Alex Knox.
Nino and the Flyers find a rhythm after a slow start to the season
Dillon Nino, another GSA graduate and now a junior defender at Dayton University, started all 4 games to start the season. After a slow start with two losses, the Flyers have picked it up and won the last two games recording a shutout in a 3-0 win vs Saint Francis and a hard fought 2-1 overtime win against Belmont. Dillon has been a regular starter and continues to earn the trust of Dayton’s head coach Dennis Currier.
Barraza’s tremendous success in his freshman season continues in 2016
Luis Barraza, a 2015 Grande Sports Academy Graduate and a starting GK for our 2013 USSDA National Champions academy team, entered his sophomore year at Marquette University as a starter after an incredibly impressive freshman season when he won the team’s 2015 Rookie of the Year award and was also named to the BIG EAST All-Academic Team for 2015/16 school year. He started two of the first three games of the season. In his last game he made 4 saves to help his team to a 4-1 win vs UIC.
Knox records his fourth straight start of the season
Wake Forest’s freshman Alex Knox started his 4th straight game and played in the first half to help his team to a dominating 3-0 win (1-0 at HT) over Appalachian State. WF’s coaches have praised Alex’s ability to quickly adapt to the new environment and have been further impressed by his level of maturity and strong character. Alex often mentions the important role that Grande Sports Academy played in his development on and off the field and we are excited to see him thriving at the next level. In their next game Wake Forest faces another ACC rival in No. 13 Virginia and two more Grande alums and old friends of Alex, Terrell Lowe and Bay Kurtz. This will be a nice opportunity for a quick Grande reunion for the young men.
As always, follow us on Twitter at @GrandeSportsA and on Facebook at @GSAcademy, and don’t miss any updates and latest news on everything going on at Grande Sports Academy. Also, sign up for our Inside The Grande Newsletter below.