RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Three recent high-school graduates and four transfer students have signed national letters of intent to continue their men's soccer careers at Felician University, Felician head coach Erik Kotynski announced today. The players bolster all position units for the Golden Falcons, and five of the seven were born outside the United States.
The 2018-19 NCAA signing period began on Nov. 14 and runs continuously through Aug 1. It replaces the separate early and regular signing periods of past years.
Felician is a member of NCAA Division II and competes in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC). The Golden Falcons will begin their 2019 season, the 24th in program history, against Franklin Pierce University on Thu., Sept. 5, in Rindge, N.H. Their seven scholarship newcomers are profiled below.
Nebi Ademi (Wayne, N.J./Wayne Hills) is a 2019 graduate of Wayne Hills High, where he was a First Team SCANJ All-State defender. As a senior he was also named First Team All-North Jersey and First Team All-Passaic County by northjersey.com as well as to the All-Big North Conference First Team. The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder, who also played basketball for the Patriots, is a member of the Jersey Crew Soccer Club. Ademi's sister, Bjonda Ademi, is a 2017 Felician graduate and former Golden Falcon goalkeeper. He intends to major in graphic design. "Nebi is a composed, solid center back who adds size and physical presence to our back line," Kotynski said. "He is calm and clean on the ball."
Alexandros Avraamides (Nicosia, Cyprus/Paignton Academy [U.K.]), is a 5-foot-9, 162-pound defender who most recently played for Rowan College at Burlington County in 2016. He was chosen as the 2016-17 RCBC Freshman Athlete of the Year while helping lead the Barons to the NJCAA Region XIX Championship. Avraamides enrolls at Felician with two years of NCAA Division II eligibility and expects to major in exercise sports science. "Alexandros can play anywhere along the back line and plays much bigger than his actual size," Kotynski said. "He has the speed and endurance to get up and down the field. Therefore, we are counting on him not only being a force defensively, but also making an impact in the attacking half."
Diego Duffort (Madrid, Spain/Colegio San Patricio) joins the Golden Falcons directly following his graduation from Colegio San Patricio in Madrid, Spain. A 5-foot-9, 137-pound forward, he has played at various levels of the Real Madrid youth academy since the age of 13. He is likely to major in management. "We expect Diego to play as a target forward," Kotynski said. "He possesses the ability to get behind defenses with his speed and has the talent to become a top striker in the CACC."
Alex Ficarra (Phillipsburg, N.J./Notre Dame-Green Pond [Pa.]) sat out the 2018 season while attending Northeast Conference champion LIU Brooklyn and maintains four years of college eligibility. A New Jersey Olympic Development Program selection at goalkeeper, he holds the Notre Dame High of Easton, Pa., records for shutouts in a season and career. Ficarra, 6-foot and 165 pounds, is a three-time Colonial League All-Star and played at the club level for the Reading Rage. He hopes to study management. "Alex is a focused, hardworking goalkeeper," Kotynski said. "We hope the exposure to success at LIU will help him lead his current teammates."
Eduardo Rossi (Madrid, Spain/Colegio Virgen de Europa), 5-foot-10 and 154 pounds, trained at Marcet Football in Madrid, Spain, before captaining Spanish club Getafe C.F. He is a 2019 graduate of Colegio Virgen de Europa in Madrid. Rossi intends to major in management. "Eduardo can play as a center back or a defensive center midfielder," Kotynski said. "We are counting on his ability to read games and be the backbone of our defense. He has had the opportunity to train and play at a high level in Spain, and we believe that will lead to success regardless of position."
Guillermo Sanchez Duque (Malaga, Spain/IES Mayorazgo) comes to Felician after two seasons at Rowan-Burlington during which he recorded 13 goals and 26 assists in 26 games. In his native Spain, the 5-foot-7, 153-pound midfielder played for Campo de Futbol 26 de Febrero Malaga while attending IES Mayroazgo. He is likely to major in communications with a concentration on journalism and media. "Guillermo is a talented center midfielder who adds a wealth of experience," Kotynski said. "He has the ability to switch the point of attack with strong distribution and can find the back of the net off set pieces."
Ecuadorian-born Jorge Zerna (Paterson, N.J./St. Benedict's Prep) has two years of Division II eligibility left after having played most recently at Passaic County Community College. While captaining the junior varsity at perennial high school power St. Benedict's Prep of Newark, he was a member of the Clifton Elite club program. A 5-foot-8, 133-pound midfielder/forward, Zerna intends to study management. "Jorge can be a focal point of our attack," Kotynski said. "He is confident on the ball and can play in tight spaces. He is able to beat defenses off the dribble or combine with teammates to generate scoring chances."
Felician seeks its first CACC playoff appearance since 2011. The Golden Falcons posted a won-lost-tied record of 5-10-1 last year.