SALEM, Ore. – Corban University head men’s soccer coach Aaron Lewis announced his 2017 recruiting class on Tuesday morning, naming seven players that would be joining the tradition that is Warrior men’s soccer.
In his first four years as head coach at Corban, Lewis guided the Warriors to a 65-16-4 overall record with two Cascade Collegiate Conference (CCC) Regular-Season Championships, three CCC Tournament Championships, and four berths in the NAIA National Tournament. In 2016, the Warriors won in the NAIA National Championship Opening Round for the first time ever, advancing to the NAIA Final Site and Round of 16.
“This is such an exciting class for us on many levels,” said Lewis. “We feel we’ve brought in some high level local talent, found a couple regional standouts, and added a very high quality international student that has expanded our recruiting reach. Every one of these guys will add key aspects to our group, and each of them has a team-first mentality.”
Sebastian Ruelas – 5′ 6″ – Forward – South Salem High School – Oregon
Ruelas, a local talent that finished as the all-time leading goal scorer at South Salem High School, will look to make an impact immediately as a Warrior. While scoring 42 goals in his career, he garnered First-Team All-State plaudits, as well as receiving GVC First-Team recognition multiple times. In addition, he was a member of the Capital FC Timbers team that won the 2016 State Championship on the club side.
Coach Lewis had this to say about Ruelas:
“I foresee Sebastian being an integral part of our attack from day one. He is an extremely explosive player that can make special things happen in a blink of an eye. Sebastian will defend relentlessly from a forward position, and when you couple that with his ability to finish, we believe he can be effective right away.
Michael Ponce – 5′ 8” – Defender – South Salem High School – Oregon
Ponce, following a decorated playing career at South Salem High School, joins the Warriors looking to make an impact in the defense for Corban. Playing three years of varsity soccer, he became a three-time All-GVC League Defender/Midfielder honoree. Ponce was also a member of the Capital FC Timbers, winning six State Championships.
Coach Lewis had this to say about Ponce:
“Michael is a versatile, dependable defensive player. His communication, technical ability, and feel for the game will be valuable for our program over the next four years. He comes from solid club, and high school programs, and that solid training shows in how he plays.”
Armando Lopez – 5′ 7″ – Midfielder – South Salem High School – Oregon
Lopez joins Corban after a successful high school career. As a senior, he scored eight goals and recorded five assists, in addition to garnering First-Team All-GVC plaudits his junior and senior year. As a member of the Capital FC Timbers, he was part of the club that won six State Championships.
Coach Lewis had this to say about Lopez:
“Armando is technical, reads the game well, and has the ability to score from the midfield position. I believe he has the potential to run a college midfield at the national tournament level.”
Hector Sanchez – 5′ 8″ – Defender – North Salem HS/Chemeketa CC – Oregon
Sanchez looks to make a significant difference after transferring from Chemeketa Community College. While at Chemeketa, he garnered NWAC All-Star honors in 2016 for the Division-winning Chemeketa Storm. He was also a part of the first-ever Portland Timbers Academy class, meaning that he was one of the first seven players from the Timbers Academy to play collegiately.
Coach Lewis had this to say about Sanchez:
“When adding defenders you look for guys that are calm on the ball, and yet can be tough and decisive defenders. Hector is that kind of player. He will help us get the ball out from the back in an organized fashion, and yet is not afraid to tackle hard and track guys down when needed. He will be a big key to our defensive unit over the next two seasons.”
Lewis Wright – 5′ 11″ – Midfielder – La Grande High School – Oregon
Wright, hailing from La Grande, Ore., comes to Corban after a highly successful and decorated high school career. As a multi-sport athlete, playing soccer and running track, he scored 12 goals and registered 16 assists during his senior year. He garnered All-League First-Team plaudits all four years, while receiving the Greater Oregon League Player of the Year award. In addition, he garnered All-State First-Team and Second-Team honors during his time in high school.
Coach Lewis had this to say about Wright:
“Lewis is an athletic player with quality experience for an incoming freshman. His athletic ability, and desire to compete, will put him in good position to contribute early in his collegiate career.”
Jordan Keegan – 5′ 10″ – Defender – Portland Christian High School – Oregon
Keegan joins the Warriors looking to contribute for the Navy and Gold. During his time in high school, Keegan competed on the soccer, basketball, and baseball teams. He scored 15 goals and recorded 13 assists during his freshman and sophomore years on the team.
Coach Lewis had this to say about Keegan:
“Jordan comes from high school and club programs I am very familiar with. He is a talented kid in many ways, but his determination and work ethic are attributes that really attracted him to us. We look forward to seeing him develop more during his time here.”
Wade Coetzee – 6′ 3″ – Defender – Silvermine Academy – South Africa
Hailing from Cape Town, South Africa, Coetzee comes to Corban following a successful high school career with the Ubuntu Football Academy, leading the Ubuntu Football U19’s to rise to become one of the best teams in South Africa. He represented Western Province in the U16 Team for two-straight years and played in the Cape Town Tygerberg Board Team for three-straight years. He also captained Silvermine Academy’s team to the National U16 Metropolitan Cup when the team was all U15 and younger.
Coach Lewis had this to say about Coetzee:
“Wade is someone we think has the natural ability play at a very high level. He has a unique blend of height and speed for a soccer player. We foresee him having the ability to win many balls both in the run of play and during set-piece situations, and his comfort on the ball is a real strength, so we think believe he has the ability to score as well. We are thrilled to have been connected to a player from the other side of the world who we believe fits Corban so well.”
In addition to these seven recruits, former Warrior All-Conference performer Nathaniel Cheney returns from injury and will rejoin the team in 2017, while Jesse Martin, a former NWAC standout and Woodburn High School Player of the Year becomes eligible to play in 2017. Moreover, Asa Flanagan also returns to the Warriors after red-shirting in 2016.