Grande Alums Roundup: Week of Goal-Fests and Awards

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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 and 28 players have signed professional contracts. There are currently a remarkable 21 GSA alums playing at one of the Top 25 ranked NCAA Men’s Soccer programs. With Week 5 of the NCAA Men’s Soccer season completed and Week 6 in progress, many of our Grande Sports Academy alums continue to exhibit excellence on the fields around the country and abroad. Read all about it in this week’s Grande Alums Roundup.

Riggs Lennon earns national recognition with his performance

Riggs Lennon is one of a number of Grande Sports Academy graduates who are having an extraordinary season thus far. This past week, Riggs and his No.10 Creighton teammates logged two new wins to extend their unbeaten streak to 7 games. Riggs has developed into a real scoring machine and has now scored 6 goals in the last three games. He is the leading scorer in the Big East with 8 goals in 8 matches so far this season. He was unstoppable in the Bluejays’ 4-1 win against De Paul scoring all 4 goals for his team. The exceptional performance didn’t go unnoticed and earned him a number of awards this week. He was named the Big East Offensive Player of the Week, Top Drawer Soccer Player of the Week and earned a spot on the College Soccer News National Team of the Week.

Rice scores a game winner for the Huskies

Elijah Rice, a U-20 U.S. Men’s National Team player and a freshman at University of Washington, spent his senior year in high school at Grande Sports Academy where he quickly became an indispensable attacking threat of the U-18 academy team. He was the top scorer in the 2015-16 U.S. Soccer Development Academy season and made news early on as he scored a remarkable 6 goals in one game against Strikers FC last year. You can see the highlights from that game here. He was in scoring mode yet again this week, this time in a Huskies uniform. Elijah came on as a sub in the second half of the game against Seattle University and scored the game winning goal (see below) only minutes after entering the field. And what a goal it was! A great performance earned him his first start of the season in the next game against their Pac-12 rivals #13 UCLA and two other Grande Alums, Jose Hernandez and Erik Holt. Despite not scoring this time around, Elijah left the field victorious as the Huskies defeated the Bruins in a 4-0 beat down for their 4th straight win.

Estrada scores a hat-trick in a dramatic win vs SWAC rivals

Junior Estrada, a freshman at Salt Lake Community College, was on fire this week as he scored the first hat-trick of his college career in the Bruins’ 4-3 hard fought win over Snow College. The young rookie scored two goals in the first half only to see his team eventually fall behind 3-2 late in the game and on the verge of defeat. Junior, however, had different plans and saved the best for last as he completed his hat-trick with a dramatic overtime game winner that extended Bruins’ unbeaten streak to 8 games. His dominating play won him the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Player of the Week award. He has had a great freshman campaign so far scoring 6 goals and adding 5 assists to his tally. He will look to continue his run of form on Friday against the College of Southern Nevada.

Lennon continues to shine at Liverpool FC

Brooks Lennon was in action again this week as his Liverpool U-23 side faced a German Bundesliga side Wolfsburg’s U-23 team in the Premier League International Cup. If you’re not familiar with this competition, it was created by the Premier League as part of the organization’s Elite Player Performance Plan and offers high quality competition for young players. Twelve of England’s best academy sides compete against 12 of the top development squads in the rest of Europe. Brooks was in the starting lineup against Wolfsburg and continued to play a prominent role for the Reds. After scoring an incredible goal against Tottenham last week, he found the net again as he scored an equalizer (see below) with 10 minutes left in what turned out to be the only Liverpool goal in a 2-1 loss. We’ve written more about Brooks‘ time in England in our last week’s Grande Alums Roundup.

Gayton, Schmitt and the Cardinals extend their winning streak

This week, four Grande Sports Academy alums stood on opposite sides as the Virginia Cavaliers visited their ACC rivals #9 Louisville Cardinals at the Lynn Stadium in Kentucky. Jack Gayton and Tate Schmitt came out on top in a dominating fashion as the Cardinals defeated the visiting team with alums Bay Kurtz and Terrell Lowe. Final score of the game was 6-1 and it was Jack Gayton who opened the scoring in the goal fest with his first goal of the season. Jack and Tate started for the Cardinals, who have won 5 in a row now and continue to climb in the rankings. Bay started for Virginia and Terrell saw action in the 2nd half.

Barraza’s shutout earns him Goalkeeper of the Week honors

Luis “Wicho” Barraza, a 2015 Grande Sports Academy Graduate and a starting GK for our 2013 USSDA National Champions academy team, earned his first shutout of the season for Marquette in a 0-0 draw against St. John’s. His rock solid performance in goal with seven saves in 110 minutes of the match that went to overtime earned him the Big East Goalkeeper of the Week honors. This was already his fifth career shutout. In the next game against Villanova, Luis started for the second time in a row, but was not able to prevent his team’s 1-2 loss. Next up for Luis and his Golden Eagles is a matchup with Seton Hall on Saturday.

Binder & Stadler help the Panthers win two straight

Mathias Binder and Jon Stadler both played an important role in the last two Milwaukee Panthers’ home games, both wins. Jon, a powerful defender, spent two years at Grande Sports Academy and graduated in 2014. He has been a regular starter for the Panthers in his junior year starting 7 of 9 games this season and played all 90 minutes in the 1-0 win vs Belmont as well as in the 2-0 win vs Bradley. That is two shutouts in a row for the defenseman. Mathias, a creative midfielder, came to Grande Sports Academy in 2013 from his home town of Bad Fischau in Austria and spent his senior year of high school at the academy. After redshirting the 2014 season with Milwaukee, he has become an irreplaceable starter having started all but one of the 26 games in the last two seasons. He had 2 goals and 2 assists in his first full season. He added another assist to his tally this week and it was a vital one as he assisted on the lone goal in Panthers’ 1-0 win against Belmont. This was his first assist of the season.

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