West Virginia University men’s soccer coach Dan Stratford has announced the signing of five student-athletes to the 2021 signing class.
Making up the first half of the Mountaineers’ 2021 signees are Simon Kalinauskas (Enmore, Sydney), Lorenzo Nuñez (Bloomingburg, New York), Max Trethewey (Charleston, West Virginia), George Pitsillides (Nicosia, Cyprus) and Yoran Popovic (Zuidlaren, The Netherlands).
“We’re excited to announce the first half of our 2021 recruiting class,” Stratford said. “Under some very difficult circumstances, through many hours of Zoom calls and even more hours of game film, we feel we have recruited a quality group of young men that will not only represent the University well and contribute to the community, but will bring a quality of depth and competition within the squad that is needed to compete at the highest level in college soccer. While this group of players has not come in to replace anyone, they are here to improve the squad and help continue our upward trajectory to a national-championship-contending program.”
Simon Kalinauskas/Defender/Enmore, Sydney
A native of Enmore, Sydney, Kalinauskas played for coach Zlatko Arambasic as a member of the Hakoah Sydney City East FC organization. He also was as a shadow player for the New South Wales School Boys team, which encompassed public, private and Catholic schools playing throughout the country. The squad went on to win the New South Wales Combined High Schools Cup in 2019. Additionally, Kalinauskas was awarded Newtown High School of the Performing Arts’ Sports Person of the Year award in 2020, celebrating his athletic achievements during his high school career. The son of Ray and Catherine, Kalinauskas plans to major in finance.
“Simon has impressed us perhaps just as much with his personality, ambition and character as he has with his great potential as a young defender,” Stratford said. “Simon joins a defensive unit that was very successful this spring and will bring further depth, size and presence to the center back position. We’re incredibly pleased to have Simon join the program with four years to work with him and aid in his development. Simon has a proven track record of continued growth and development throughout his career, mostly in Australia, and has incredible ambition for what he can achieve at WVU. We look forward to helping facilitate that and have very high hopes for him over the coming years.”
Lorenzo Nuñez/Goalkeeper/Bloomingburg, New York
Nuñez hails from Bloomingburg, New York, where he played soccer at Pine Bush High School for coach Marc Gittleman. At Pine Bush, Nuñez played as a forward his senior year, scoring 19 goals and tallying a trio of assists to help the Bushmen capture the OCIAA Division II title and advance to the Section 9 Class AA semifinals. Following his senior campaign, he was honored as a member of the Bloomingburg Times Herald-Record’s Varsity 845 All-Star First Team. At the club level, Nuñez played for World Class FC under head coach Biro Santos, boasting time with the U-14, U-16, U-17 and FC Westchester teams. Rated a two-star prospect by TopDrawerSoccer.com, Nuñez helped lead FC Westchester to an appearance in the Development Academy playoffs in 2018-19. He also was named to New York’s All-Section IX team, as well as named the Section IX Football Champion as a kicker for the Pine Bush football team. The son of Alfredo and Maria, Nuñez plans to major in finance.
“Lorenzo is a talented young goalkeeper with bags of potential,” Stratford said of Nuñez. “(Assistant coach) Nick Noble and the rest of the staff were very excited by many of the tools Lorenzo displayed, and we feel as though we have recruited a goalkeeper that reminds us a lot of Steven Tekesky. I also have a lot of respect for Lorenzo, who made the brave decision to take a gap year in Spain and continue to improve his craft in very unfamiliar territory. Anyone who has the maturity and courage to make this type of decision to better themselves has already displayed a level of self-awareness and humility that aligns with the culture here at WVU. Lorenzo is a bright, positive young man that will be a pleasure to work with over the next four years.”
Max Trethewey/Midfielder/Charleston, West Virginia
A Charleston, West Virginia, native, Trethewey played for coach Erik Engle at George Washington High School. A two-year captain at GW, Trethewey helped guide the Patriots to three consecutive West Virginia state championships. He was named the Kanawha Valley Player of the Year in 2020 after leading GW to an 11-0 campaign, while also garnering First Team All-State and All-Region honors as a forward. Trethewey netted eight goals and added four assists in his senior campaign for the No. 7-rated high school team in the country, according to MaxPreps. At the club level, Trethewey played for WVFC, where he served as a five-year team captain under coach Josh Faga. Rated a two-star prospect by TopDrawerSoccer.com, Trethewey helped lead WVFC to four WV State Cup championships. The son of Richard and Beth, Trethewey plans to major in biomedical engineering at WVU.
“Max is a decorated player from the Charleston area that allows us to continue the tradition of recruiting from within the state and, more specifically, from George Washington High School, which has proven itself time and time again to be the best high school team in the state,” Stratford said. “I watched Max’s games in the state championship, and, in my opinion, he was the best player on the field in both the semifinal and championship games. He also was a leader for his team. We’re very pleased to acquire Max’s services for the coming years and to beat out some very good competition both elsewhere in the state and across the country. Max is an explosive and dynamic attacking threat on the wings with a very good left foot. In my experience, this will inevitably be a big transition into the college environment for Max, but he has shown to have a great work ethic and we believe he can take significant strides in our environment and be the next West Virginian to represent his home state for the men’s soccer program.”
George Pitsillides/Defender/Nicosia, Cyprus
A native of Nicosia, Cyprus, Pitsillides attended The English School, Nicosia, while playing club-level soccer for the Apoel FC under coach Ioannis Grammos. Pitsillides was a five-time national champion as a part of the Apoel FC, while also playing in the Union of European Football Associations Youth League. Pitsillides recorded 188 minutes with the UEFA Youth League. He also was a starting right back for the Cyprus National Team, spending time on the U-13, U-15, U-17 and U-19 teams. The son of Christopher and Christina, Pitsillides plans to major in finance.
“George is a fantastic pedigree of player with impeccable academics to match,” Stratford added. “George’s experience at the national-team level for Cyprus and at the club-youth level for APOEL in the Champions League should certainly help his transition into the college game. My familiarity with players coming from this club and country made George a very attractive prospect from day one. George will add a tenacity and dynamism to our right side, with an ability to get up and down that suits our style of play. George will look to complete his undergraduate in business and his MBA over his four years, with equally loft ambitions for his athletic career to match.”
Yoran Popovic/Forward/Zuidlaren, The Netherlands
Popovic hails from Zuidlaren, The Netherlands, where he attended Zernike College, Zuidlaren, while playing club-level soccer for HZVV Hoogeveen under coach Rick Mulder. He also has spent time playing for the ZFC Zuidlaren, ACV Assen and FC Groningen teams, as well as the ACV Assen U-19 and Groningen U-19 teams. Popovic has appeared in 42 career games, scoring 20 goals and adding a pair of assists. The son of Predrag and Els, Popovic will be pursuing a masters in sport management.
“Yoran might be one of the few examples of how the pandemic has helped us within this recruiting class, because with his goal scoring form and trajectory back home in the Netherlands, it was only a matter of when, not if, he would continue to climb the leagues” Stratford said of Popovic. “Yoran is a center forward with great size and presence, excellent technique and a clear eye for goal. He will supplement our group of forwards nicely, as he pursues his masters in sport management with his final year of eligibility. True goal scorers at the collegiate level are notoriously difficult to find, so we are optimistic that with Ike (Swiger), Ciro (Bourlot Jaeggi) and now Yoran leading the line, we have the depth of quality necessary to pose a serious threat to any defense in the country.”