Cornell men’s soccer head coach John Smith and his staff have announced the incoming class of 2021, the first recruiting class with Smith at the helm.
The Red will be bringing in 13 student-athletes, including athletes from seven different U.S. states and England, with five players coming from California. The group consists of two strikers, five defenders and six midfielders.
“This being our first class at Cornell, it was especially important to bring in a group of student-athletes who will continue the tradition of Cornell men’s soccer’s recruitment of great young men,” Smith said to Cornell Big Red. “This group of guys embodies everything we look for in a soccer player — they are disciplined, hard-working and they all came here to be successful both on and off the field.”
The team is in rebuilding mode after a disappointing 2016 season. Cornell finished last season with a 1-14-2 overall record, in second-to-last place in the Ivy League with a 0-7 league record. The team beat out Harvard, whose season came to a halt after members were found to have vulgar documents rating women based on appearance. Harvard was sitting on top of the league before the school’s imposed sanctions.
Cornell finished in last place in the Ivy League in almost every statistical category on both sides of the ball, including goals, assists and goals allowed. The bright spot for the Red, however, is that the team finished with the highest number of saves for the season behind current sophomore goalie Ryan Shellow, who recorded 71 saves for the season and averaged 5.07 per game. Here is a look at the incoming class:
Vardhin Manoj – 5’10”, 171
Manoj comes from Encinitas, Calif. and played for the San Diego Surf Soccer Club. While Manoj is primarily classified as a striker, his versatility allows him to also play midfielder, an ability that Smith calls “exciting.”
“In either position, Vardhin has proven time and again that he knows where the goal is. He is not afraid to work hard,” Smith said.
Charles Touche – 6’3”, 185
Touche hails from Albuquerque, N.M., and played for the Rio Rapids Soccer Club. Smith highlighted that Touche is very agile for a tall guy, and is also a smart player.
“Charles definitely has an eye for goal, and his desire to score linked in with his competitive nature will make him a real threat going forward,” Smith said.
Tyler Bagley – 5’6”, 170
Bagley is from San Clemente, Calif., and played for the Irvine Strikers. Smith praised his ability to be “creative” to get goals.
“He is definitely someone I would classify as a points-getter,” Smith said. “[He] has a really good understanding of the game, and this quality often allows him to dictate the rhythm and pace at which the game is played.”
Connor Bayne – 5’10”, 162
Bayne comes from Horseheads, N.Y. and played for the Greater Binghamton Football Club, and is another player that excites Smith with his versatility.
“He likes to play vertically, and he also has a truly competitive nature which makes him tough to beat defensively,” Smith said.
Kepler Despinos – 5’11”, 160
Despinos is from Mission Hills, Calif. and played for FC Golden State. Smith credited Despinos as someone who can defend and attack “equally well.”
“He has a fantastic awareness when he plays and he couples this with a great understanding of the game,” Smith said. “He is an exciting addition to the squad.”
Harry Fuller – 5’10”, 168
Fuller is the only player hailing from out of the United States, coming from London and playing for the Milton Keynes Dons Football Club. Smith complemented Fuller’s ability to be “crafty” with the ball.
“Harry has pace both with and without the ball, and his qualities as a player could see him being quite versatile within the front six,” Smith said.
Tommy Hansan – 6’1”, 180
Hansan arrives from Bethesda, Md., and is another tall player that Smith praised for his “good feet” to go along with his height.
“He is just as comfortable picking the ball up off the back four as he is driving forward and threading passes through to the strikers,” Smith said. “He is also strong in the tackle and very good in the air.”
Caleb McAuslan – 5’7”, 145
Coming from Everett, Wash., McAuslan played for Crossfire Academy. Smith credited McAuslan for his speed to get past defenders.
‘’He also has great 1 v 1 potential, which means he is also a threat attaching defenders from underneath,” Smith said. “His skill-set could see him playing as an attacking central midfielder, and a withdrawn striker.”
Evan Austin — 5’10”, 160
Austin played for Colorado Rapids Academy and is from Denver. Smith called Austin a “sharp, tenacious defender” with “great speed and toughness.”
“He uses these qualities to full effect when he defends 1-vs-1. Like others in his class, Evan falls into the category of being a defender who loves to defend,” Smith said.
Jack Barone — 6’2”, 165
Barone is from La Jolla, Calif. and played for the Albion Soccer Club. Smith highlighted Barone’s “confidence” with the ball.
“This is very evident when you see his range of passing when he plays. His technical skills, along with his athleticism, will make Jack an extremely versatile player at the college level,” Smith said.
Richie Hrncir — 5’9”, 160
Hrncir comes from Encino, Calif. and played for Real So. Cal. Hrncir has a combination of competitiveness that Smith called rare.
“When he plays he invariably marks the most dangerous striker, and they rarely leave the field feeling good about themselves,” Smith said. “He is a rarity these days, in that he is a defender who loves to defend and has fantastic defensive instincts. He has pace, strength and can jump through the roof.”
Jacob LeMair — 6’1”, 175
LeMair is from Austin and played for Vandegrift High School. Smith highlighted LeMair’s athleticism needed for the position.
“He combines a good range of passing with a strong commitment to get forward and contribute to the attack. He also takes pride in look down his side defensively.”
Murray Riach — 6’2”, 180
Riach rounds out the incoming class and is from Weston, Conn., and played for Everton FC Westchester. Smith said he has “good pace and is comfortable in possession.”
“Murray is a very athletic central defender who would be equally comfortable playing as a left back,” Smith said. “He beats his opponents on the ground, in the air, and has the mobility to cover massive areas of the field.”
Smith is confident that this new group of athletes will help turn the program around from the slump it has faced the past couple of years.
“Together, with a group of returners who are setting the bar higher on a daily basis, we are looking forward to bringing an exciting brand of soccer to our games this fall and for many years to come,” Smith said.