ATLANTA, Ga. – Former Virginia Commonwealth University men's soccer standout Lucas Paulini has signed a professional contract with the Atlanta Silverbacks of the North American Soccer League.  Paulini is the first Ram to ink a professional contract under Head Coach Dave Giffard, who completed his first season at VCU last fall.

"I'm very happy for Lucas; I think it is the beginning of what will be a long and very successful professional career," said Giffard.  "His growth during the four months that he was with us was tremendous and I think it points to a big upside for him in the game.  Although Lucas is our first player to sign a professional contract since we arrived last winter, he joins a long list of former VCU standouts to enter the professional game.  I don't, however, think he will be our last." 

Although he only played one season at VCU, the Tusculum College transfer made the most of his time with the Rams. He helped solidify the VCU midfield and quickly gained the respect from opposing coaches in just three months with the Black & Gold. 

In November, Paulini was one of two Rams to earn All-CAA First-Team honors, and concluded his collegiate career having received All-Region recognition in each of his four collegiate seasons.  Paulini was a three-time honoree at Tusculum College.

The Buenos Aires, Argentina native assisted on the game-winning goal against Howard in September. He also helped on a score that gave VCU a 1-0 lead in its CAA Tournament-clinching victory at James Madison in November.

Paulini also made his presence felt defensively as VCU allowed just 15 goals all year, which was the second-fewest in the CAA.  The Rams ranked third in the conference in goals against average (0.73) and posted eight shutouts for the first time since 2004.

Paulini recently completed a trio of signings for the Silverbacks.

"Adding [Paulini and two other players] really strengthens the middle of the field for us," said Atlanta's Director of Soccer Rodrigo Rios in a team statement. "Each of them is extremely skilled, but that isn't all they bring to the team – these three guys play a very physical game that will benefit us greatly."

Atlanta opens the regular season against NSC Minnesota Stars on April 9.