Feb. 20, 2013
STANFORD, Calif. - Stanford men's soccer head coach Jeremy Gunn announced the signing of seven prep standouts to National Letters of Intent Wednesday.
Enrolling at Stanford for the 2013-14 academic year and joining the squad for 2013 preseason training in August will be Nico Corti (Westlake Village, Calif./Agoura HS), Andrew Epstein (Fort Collins, Colo./Poudre HS), Marshall Glover (Alpharetta, Ga./Westminster Schools), Trevor Hyman (Irvine, Calif./Vista Grande HS), Jordan Morris (Mercer Island, Wash./Mercer Island HS), Brian Nana-Sinkam (Lititz, Pa./Manheim Township HS) and Mark Verso (Tujunga, Calif./St. Francis HS).
"We are very excited to welcome the 2013 class to Stanford. We will bring in eight players in total who will all have the ability to take on major roles as we look to establish Stanford men's soccer as a major force in collegiate soccer," Gunn said. "The group boasts a wealth of talent, and most importantly they have the technique and mental aptitude to have outstanding college careers and beyond. The class will add great quality, drive and personality, while also providing much-needed depth to our squad. We said goodbye to four special seniors this year, so this group will help us build for the future while also getting the chance to compete immediately."
The incoming freshman class will join a Stanford program that finished third on the Pac-12 table in 2012, accumulating 16 points thanks to a 5-4-1 mark in conference play. Overall the Cardinal went 9-8-1, putting together a strong finish with six wins and a draw from its final 10 matches.
Strikers Morris and Verso join a forward unit that features 2012 All-Pac-12 honorable mention Zach Batteer, who scored six goals during the campaign. After the graduation of Adam Jahn, a four-time all-conference selection and last year's leader with 13 goals and 30 points to his ledger, Morris and Verso will aim to bolster the Cardinal attack that outshot opponents 306-188 in 2012 and scored 22 goals over its final 10 matches.
Morris, a speedy playmaker out of Mercer Island High School in Washington, was named the state's Gatorade Player of the Year as a junior in 2011 after scoring 21 goals with 15 assists in leading the Islanders to an 11-1-4 record and the Class 3A state tournament. A two-time selection to the All-Kingco League First Team, Morris was also named league MVP in 2012.
A member of the Seattle Sounders U18 Academy Team, Morris is the leading goal scorer in U.S. Club Soccer with 15 as the U18 Sounders own a 7-3-5 record through its most recent action on Feb. 3.
"Jordan is a natural goal scorer, who scored goals at the club level and now the US Academy level," Gunn said. "He has all the makings of a future pro whom the Seattle Sounders are very excited about. He currently plays for their youth and reserve team. He is special and can be projected as a four-year starter."
Verso will join the Cardinal and older brother Eric, who scored three goals as a redshirt freshman midfielder last year, in the upcoming campaign. At 6-1, 185 lbs. the younger Verso has the capability of making an immediate impact thanks to his size, strength and technique, giving Stanford a physical presence in the attack.
Currently starring for Real So Cal's U18 entry in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy League, Verso is second on the squad with seven goals over its 6-5-3 start to the season. Prior to joining Real So Cal, Verso played for Chivas USA's U18 Academy squad and led the squad with 20 goals as a 16-year-old.
"Mark is another natural goal scorer that we are bringing to Stanford," Gunn noted. "He is very different to our other strikers giving a different option upfront. He adds intelligent movement and physicality to the game, which we need against the bigger opponents."
Hyman will add depth to the Cardinal midfield which is headed up by 2012 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Aaron Kovar and All-Pac-12 honorable mention JJ Koval. Hyman is another of Stanford's signees currently playing in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy League, having a goal to his name over 12 matches with Real Salt Lake AZ which leads the Southwest Division at 33 points (10-2-3 record). The Irvine native is a versatile midfielder who is comfortable scoring or creating goals, or competing in a number of positions. His defensive prowess has helped RSL AZ to five clean sheets this season, including a stretch of four straight over September and October.
"Trevor has an incredible mentality. He eats, lives, and breaths the game," Gunn said. "He is clean on the ball, and incredibly hardworking off the ball. He will be able to compete in several positions depending on the team's needs."
Gunn also brings Glover and Nana-Sinkam into the fold to add depth to the Cardinal back line. This Development Academy League U17-18 season Glover, a central defender, has helped safeguard the Georgia United goal to the tune of five consecutive shutouts until that run was snapped in a 1-1 draw Feb. 2 against Charlotte Soccer Academy. In prep soccer, Glover helped anchor the back line for The Westminster Schools varsity squad as it captured a second straight AA State Championship last May.
"Marshall has all of the qualities of a great defender, he has pace, strength, and is very difficult to beat in 1v1 situations," Gunn noted. "He is composed on the ball and can play anywhere across the back or in midfield."
Joining Glover in the mix among Cardinal defenders is Nana-Sinkam, a Lititz, Pa. native. Nana-Sinkam, also a central defender, helped lead PA Classics into the U.S. Soccer Development Academy League finals in 2011-12 and was even called up to the reserve squad of the Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer. With the Union reserves, he saw action in a 3-3 draw against the Columbus Crew reserve squad this past September 30, entering as a halftime sub.
Nana-Sinkam has been hailed for his athleticism on the back line, and possesses a highly-touted combination of athleticism, toughness and finesse that will immensely bolster the Stanford defense.
"Brian was a central midfielder until a year ago where he comfortably made the change to center-back," Gunn commented. "He has the brain and speed to defend, while also having the skill and passing technique of a central-midfielder. Brian and Marshall will both be able to compete for vacant spots as central defenders or holding midfielders."
Rounding out the class is a pair of goalkeepers in Corti and Epstein, who will work behind incumbent senior Drew Hutchins for 2013. Corti mans the net for Real So Cal in the Development Academy League, and has been in net for the full 90 minutes of three of the club's four shutouts in 2012-13. In the fourth shutout, Corti came on at halftime and posted an unblemished final 45 minutes.
At Agoura High School, Corti earned Marmonte League MVP honors as a sophomore and was named to the First Team in each of his first two prep seasons. He was also selected to the Ventura County Star All-County First Team as well as the All-Area Team of the Los Angeles Daily News.
Epstein starts in net for the Colorado Rapids U16 squad in the Academy League and has earned call-ups to play for the Rapids Reserve squad. Epstein also represented the U.S. on the U-14 National Team in 2009, participating with the squad at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex in Nov. 2009 as well as on the team's international trip to Guadalajara, Mexico in Jan. 2010. He then went on to participate at the U.S. U-15 National Team camp at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. in July 2011.
At Poudre High School in Fort Collins, Colo., Epstein was named to the 5A-Front Range League Second Team in 2010 as well as the Defensive MVP.
"It is impossible to separate Nico and Andrew at this point," Gunn said of the incoming goalies. "They are both capable of pushing our current keepers in their first year. Nico and Andrew both possess tremendous qualities as keepers; they have great frames, can make fantastic saves, and can distribute well. They have had the opportunity to train with top-notch MLS goalkeeper coaches, and both have extremely bright futures in the program."