The Pitt men’s soccer program made significant strides last season under head coach Jay Vidovich, and that progress has carried over into the offseason, as it was announced on Friday that the Panthers’ 2018 recruiting class was ranked fifth in the country by Top Drawer Soccer.
The seven-man class consists of two four-star recruits in defender Chandler Vaughn and goalkeeper Johan Penaranda, two three-star recruits in defender Alec Townsend and forward Nykolas Sessock, and three two-star players in defenders Jared Juleau and Facundo Costantini and midfielder Rodrigo Almeida.
Five of the incoming recruits played in the academies of Major League Soccer teams, with Vaughn and Townsend both coming from the DC United system, Penaranda from NYCFC, Sessock from the Philadelphia Union, and Juleau from the New York Red Bulls. Meanwhile, Costantini and Almeida were teammates at Montverde Academy in Florida.
While Costantini and Almeida — both of whom hail from the soccer mecca of Brazil — did not hone their skills in MLS systems like their incoming teammates, Montverde is impressive in its own right. Top Drawer Soccer ranks the prep school No. 1 among high school teams in the nation and notes its longstanding dominance as its rationale:
“Montverde Academy closed out an eighth straight undefeated season with three victories in the final week. The Eagles are riding a national record 174-match undefeated streak. This year, Montverde Academy fielded four unique varsity lineups, rolling out teams based on the competition. The SIMA Red, juniors and seniors, rolled to lopsided wins over Leon (7-1) and Merritt Island (6-1) and featured Pitt commits Facundo Costantini and Rodrigo Almeida and Butler commit Gabriel Gjergji.”
Geographically, the class demonstrates Vidovich’s ability to recruit the Northeast, which has proved vital to the success of other programs at the university, in addition to his ability to draw recruits from national powerhouses at the high school level, like Montverde. It also bodes well for future chemistry that he brought in two pairs of former teammates.
While soccer season is still about six months away, it appears there’s plenty to look forward to at Pitt, as Vidovich continues to build up the once dormant program.