RICHMOND, Va. – Head Coach Dave Giffard and VCU Men's Soccer will welcome 13 new signees to the 2019 roster. The incoming class is ranked the 19th best class in the country by TopDrawerSoccer, marking the Rams' third-straight top 20 class.
"To have a Top 20 class three years in a row is a testament to the hard work put in by our staff," said Head Coach Dave Giffard. "Matt Cannady and Brett Teach are two of the top assistants in the college game and both know and understand what we look for in players who are successful here at VCU. It's also a testament to our current players and recent graduates who have created an environment and a culture within the team that is so appealing to top players."
The new additions will compliment a team that compiled a 10-6-2 record last season, claiming the Atlantic 10 Regular Season Championship.
Meet the New Rams
Alex Wichmann – Defender/Midfielder – Mobile, Ala.
Alex Wichmann will join the Rams after playing for Davidson High School in Mobile, Ala. The attacking midfielder/left back was also a member of the Alabama FC ECNL team out of Birmingham, Ala. He lead Davidson to the Alabama High School title his senior season as team captain.
"Alex is an exceptional young man that I worked with several years ago when I was in Birmingham for a soccer camp," said Giffard. "His mentality and professionalism remind me a lot of former VCU Captain and current Richmond Kicker midfielder, Greg Boehme. We are excited to see how Alex can develop and grow over his career with us here at VCU."
Wladimir Gasant – Midfielder – Virginia Beach, Va.
Attacking midfielder Wladimir Gasant joins the Rams from Cape Henry. He and fellow incomer John Ermini led Cape Henry to back-to-back VISAA titles in 2017 and 2018. His efforts led him to First Team All-VISAA and TCIS Player of the Year honors. He is also a member of Beach FC.
"Wlad is an exciting young player that has the versatility to play across the seven, 10, 11 line for us. I think early on in his career, he will be more comfortable in the seven or 11, but could develop into a guy who can play centrally as well," said Giffard.
John Ermini – Goalkeeper – Virginia Beach, Va.
John Ermini will join VCU and fellow high school teammate, Wladimir Gasant, for the 2019 season. The goalkeeper led Cape Henry to back-to-back VISAA titles in 2017 and 2018. The 2018 First Team All-State honoree was also Cape Henry's team MVP this past season. Ermini is also a member of Virginia Rush.
"John is a goalkeeper we identified as one that could develop into an excellent player for us," said Giffard. He has all the physical tools to become a top goalkeeper, and we're looking forward to getting him on campus to start that process this fall."
Ndayizeye Bonere – Defender/Midfielder – Roanoke, Va.
Defender/midfielder, Ndayizeye Bonere, will join VCU out of Patrick Henry HS. Bonere was named Patrick Henry MVP in 2018 and led them to its best record in school history his sophomore season. His outstanding senior season earned him First Team All-State, All-Region and All-District honors in 2018. He was also a member of Roanoke Star Club.
"Bo is a player we have been tracking for the last four years. We are excited to have him finally joining our squad this fall. He's an explosive and powerful force who will look to translate to this level as either a fullback or potentially in defensive midfield," said Giffard.
Celio Pompeu – Midfielder – Sao Paulo, Brazil
Celio Pompeu joins the Rams from St. Benedict's prep in New Jersey. The attacking midfielder led St. Benedict's to the New Jersey State Title and The Fall 2018 National High School Championship. One of the top recruits in the class of 2019, Pompeu was named a member of the USA Today First Team All-American Soccer Team. He is also a member of the Cedar Stars Academy.
"Celio is one of the top freshmen entering college this fall," said Giffard. "He's most at home on the left, but can play anywhere across the 7/10/11 line. We expect him to compete to make an impact on the team this fall."
Alex Fetterly – Goalkeeper – Houston, Texas
Alex Fetterly transfers to VCU after spending last season at the University of New Mexico. Fetterly was the Lobo's starting goalkeeper as a freshman. The Houston, Texas native is a former member of the United States U-18 National Team.
"Alex was one of the top goalkeepers in the class of 2018 and we are excited to have him join us to provide another quality goalkeeper to the team. He's got a tremendous upside and has the potential to play this game for a long time," said Giffard.
Ethan Manheim – Defender – Chesterfield, Va
Ethan Manheim joins VCU from Richmond United Academy. The defender played with fellow newcomer Jacob Menke at Richmond United. He has spent the last two seasons training with local USL club, Richmond Kickers.
"Ethan is a big and strong center defender who is excellent in the air. He has spent the last two seasons training with the Richmond Kickers of the USL when not playing for Richmond United," said Giffard. "He has some areas that need development, but has the tools to become a very strong central defender. He will add an immediate presence in the air."
Maverick McGann – Forward – Washington, DC
Forward, Maverick McGann, joins the Rams from Maret High School. He led Maret to the 2018 DC semifinals and led the conference in scoring. McGann was an All-State and All-Met selection last season in addition to being a three-time All-Conference honoree.
"Maverick is a striker in the mold of so many other successful players we have had here at VCU. He's strong, fast, and has a nose for goal. He has areas to improve in, but has a great doeal of potential if he is able to grow the way we hope he will," said Giffard.
Jacob Menke – Midfielder – Fredericksburg, Va.
Jacob Menke is a Richmond United product who will play in the midfield. Menke also played one year at Stafford High School.
"Jacob is a versatile two way midfielder from the Richmond United Academy. He has a big engine and the potential to grow during his time with us. I could see him competing to play in three or four different roles in midfield throughout his career," said Giffard.
Mbongeni Tshuma - Midfielder - Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
A graduate transfer from Niagara, Mbongeni Tshuma joins VCU for the 2019 season. The midfielder has spent the last three seasons with the Purple Eagles. Prior to his time with Niagara, Tshuma played four years at Lawrence Academy where he was a two-time Independent School League Champion. He was also an ISL First-Team honoree while at Lawrence Academy.
"Mo will join us for one year as a graduate transfer," said Giffard. "He is a versatile player who can play anywhere in the midfield and brings the experience of having played quite a few college games already."
Myles Brown – Midfielder – Richmond, Va.
Myles Brown is a veteran who joins VCU as a transfer from Charlotte. The midfielder helped the 49ers earn an at-large bid to the 2019 NCAA tournament. Brown was also a semifinalist for the prestigious Arthur Ashe Jr. Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year award last year.
"Like Mo, Myles joins us for his graduate transfer year. He has the flexibility to play almost any outfield position on the field, but is probably most comfortable on the right side of the midfield," said Giffard.
Fiorre Mane – Midfielder – Dakar, Senegal
Fiorre Man will join the Rams as a transfer from Pittsburgh for the 2019 season. The midfielder had a successful campaign in 2018 with Pitt, making 10 appearances. He helped lead Pitt to its first ever ACC Tournament match win last year. He prepped under former Clemson assistant coach Mike Potempa at Montverde Academy before playing collegiately.
"Fiorre was able to join us in January to train and play with the team all spring," said Giffard. He was one of the top players in the class of 2017 and will be a big part of our squad for the next several years."
Toranosuke Abe – Defender/Midfielder – Tokyo, Japan
Toranosuke Abe is a defender/midfielder that joins VCU by way of Barton Community College. The Tokyo, Japan native was a national runner-up at Barton where he was also a conference, region and district champion. During his high school campaign, Abe was a two-time National Tournament participant and National Tournament runner-up.
"Tora was a player I saw play in Japan last summer. He has a tremendous work rate and has flexibility to play anywhere in the midfield as well as outside back," said Giffard.