NEW YORK – Columbia men’s soccer head coach Kevin Anderson has announced the addition of nine newcomers to the roster for the 2013 season. Eight first-years and one transfer will comprise the new class of Lions.
“It has been a long time in the making to compile the incoming class of 2013,” said coach Anderson. “We set out to acquire players with the mentality, dedication and desire to be the first Ivy league men’s soccer program to win a national championship. I think we have just taken another step towards that objective with a group of players who understands the process and is prepared to help move this program in that direction. This class of players has a wealth of talent and experience, it is our responsibility to place them in the environment that empowers and supports them, just as we will with our returning players, to be at our very best in the 2013.”
Brennan Branca – Midfield/Forward – Darien, Conn.
A four-year letterwinner at Darien High School, Branca joins Columbia from Darien, Conn. Branca was twice named All-FCIAC and garnered all-state recognition during his senior season. He also served as the captain of the Darien soccer team his senior season. Branca’s club team, Beachside of CT, won consecutive state championships in 2011 and 2012.
Branca’s family has a Columbia background, as both of his grandparent’s graduated from Teachers College.
Andrew Chen – Defender/Midfield – Omaha, Neb.
A track (two seasons) and football player (one season) while attending Brownell-Talbot in Omaha, Chen’s primary focus was as a member of the Omaha Football Club Elite 1. Playing both defense and midfield during his time with Omaha Elite 1, Chen has contributed to four Nebraska state championships from 2009-12.
Success has also followed in his academics. Chen was a National Merit Finalist in 2013, received the Nebraska City Rotary Club Scholarship for Excellence in Engineering, claimed first in the engineering division at the Greater Nebraska Science and Engineering Fair, was named an AP Scholar with distinction and garnered the Brownell-Talbot Excellence in the Study of Mathematics Award.
Louie Maldonado – Defender – Wayne, N.J.
Louie Maldonado, brother of current Columbia men’s soccer player Dan, played his high school soccer at the Delbarton School and his club soccer with the New York Red Bulls. As the left back for the Red Bulls, Maldonado was an important piece to the team’s USDA national championship in the summer of 2012.
As a student, he received the highest academic honors each of his six years at the Delbarton School.
Joseph Morris – Defender – London, England
Traveling across the Atlantic Ocean, Morris will join the Lions in the fall of 2013 from London England. Morris attended Eton College, competing as a three-sport athlete in soccer, track and cricket. As a soccer player, he earned three letters from 2010-12 and served as the captain of the team for the 2011-12 campaign.
From 2009-12, Morris competed on the Eton U15 and U18 teams, reaching the National Cup and League finals. As a junior center back, he was selected to the England Independent School South of England Team. During his senior season, he played on the England Independent Schools National Team (ISFA), winning the International Cup.
On the academic side, Morris was Eton’s Music Exhibitioner for four year, won the Art Prize as a junior and as a senior the secretary of the Hispanic Society, as well as serving as the House Captain.
Nicholas Pappacena – Forward – Weston, Fla.
Pappacena is one of two newcomers that will be joining the Lions from Weston, Fla. A forward for Cypress Bay High School and Weston FC, Pappacena has a knack for finding the back of the net. He led Cypress Bay in scoring in both 2011 and 2012 and has accumulated 23 goals this season to pace the Weston FC.
Pappacena also has a championship and leadership pedigree. Weston FC captured the State Cup in 2011 and he was selected as the captain of Cypress Bay and Weston this year. In addition to being a force on the field, Pappacena has performed well in the classroom, being named an AP Scholar in 2012.
Stan Sandoval – Midfield – Simsbury, Conn.
Sandoval will join the Lions this fall via the Westminster Martlets of Connecticut. A three-sport athlete at Westminster (soccer, swimming and football), Sandoval excelled on pitch. He spent three season playing on the varsity squad, serving as a captain his junior year. Sandoval also played for the Oakwood SC Academy for three, serving as the team captain this season.
A Connecticut Soccer Coaches Association All-State selection as a junior, Sandoval has also been selected to multiple all-star games. He has also proven himself to be an all-star in the classroom, garnering such honors as AP Scholar with Distinction, National Hispanic Scholar, National Merit Commended Scholar and Summus Student.
Andrew Tinari – Midfield – Holbrook, N.Y.
Tinari will make his Columbia debut in the fall after completing his decorated career at Sachem East High School. A four-year varsity team member that served as the Flaming Arrows team captain from 2009-11, Tinari has earned a plethora of honors that culminated in New York State All-State Player honors in 2011. Also during that season, Tinari was recognized as the Newsday All-Long Island Team Player, and all-region, conference, league and county player.
Since 2011, Tinari has been competing with the Albertson SC Soccer Academy of the United States Soccer Academy. The National Honor Society member has an athletic heritage in his family, as his brother, Greg, played soccer for St. John’s (2007-08) and Stony Brook (2008-10), while his sister, Brenna, competed on the lacrosse team at Manhattan for 2003-07.
Rhys Williams – Defender – Weston Fla.
Also making the transition from Weston FC and Cypress Bay HS to Columbia will be Rhys Williams. Williams competed for Cypress Bay for three years, capturing All-Broward County honors as a right back his junior season.
Competing for Weston FC, Williams was a key component in back-to-back state titles (2011-12), as well as helping the squad win the ESPN National Championship in 2012 with nine goals over the course of the season.
Ron Zori – Midfield/Forward – Tel Aviv, Israel
Zori will make the short journey from Queens as a transfer from St. John’s to join the Lions for the 2013 campaign. In his native Isreal, Zuri competed for his high school Ohel Shem and his club squad Hapoel Tel Aviv.
As a member of the U-16 Hapoel team, he netted 22 goals and dished 15 assists in leading the team to a first-place league finish. The following year, playing for the U-17 squad, Hapoel captured the Israel Cup.