Charlotte, NC – Head Coach Kevin Langan and the nationally-ranked Charlotte 49ers men’s soccer program welcomes 11 newcomers to a 2014 team that returns 16 letterwinners off last season’s Conference USA Champion and NCAA Tournament National Seed squad. The 49ers 2014 recruiting class features five players from North Carolina, two players from England and players from Croatia, Georgia, New Jersey and Florida. The Niners welcome Sean Bowman from Apex, North Carolina, Daniel Bruce from Northwich, Cheshire, England, Matej Dekovic from Zagreb, Croatia, Banks Fisher from Salisbury, North Carolina, Jared Kent from Charlotte, North Carolina, John Nartowicz from Orlando, Florida, Dean Rutherford from Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, Mark Sloan from Carlisle, England, Harrison Steadman from Kinnelon, New Jersey, Malcolm Stewart from Ball Ground, Georgia and Zhuvonte Wilson from Charlotte, North Carolina.
The 49ers class was ranked 15th in the nation according to College Soccer News.
“We are excited to welcome our 2014 class to Charlotte,” Charlotte coach Kevin Langan said. “This group will strengthen the program in every position. These young men have all had wonderful youth careers and we are looking forward to watching them take the step up to college soccer.”
Bowman, a defender from Apex, North Carolina’s Apex High School, earned first-team All-Conference and All-Metro honors. As a senior, he was the team captain. Bowman, who was a member of the National Honor Society, captained his MSF Liberty U18 club team.
“Sean is a powerful, quick athlete who is an excellent 1v1 defender and is very strong in the air,” Langan said. “He can play in any position across the back four.”
Bruce, a midfielder from the Grange School Hartford in Northwich, Cheshire, England played for the England School Boys FA team. In 2014, he earned Player of the Tournament honors after helping the England School Boys win the Centenary Shield. He also was leading goal scorer for the last three years for the Independent English Schools FA team. Bruce also played for the Cheshire County team.
“Daniel is a technical attacking midfielder who is an excellent dribbler and driver with the ball,” Langan said. “He has great quality in the final third and has the ability to score and create chances for his team mates”
Dekovic, a defender from the First Economic School in Zagreb, Croatia, played for the NK Rudes and Slaven Belupo Kvarneska Rivijera in the highest youth leagues in Croatia. In 2011, he captained the Belupo team to a second place finish in the Croatian Youth League. Dekovic started taking classes at Charlotte last August.
“Matej is a tough left side defender who comes to us with great experience,” Langan said. “He has a cultured left foot, reads the game very well and has a great range to his passing.”
Fisher, a goalkeeper from Salisbury, North Carolina’s Salisbury High School, played for the ’96 North Carolina State ODP team. He also played for the Region 3 ODP team. Fisher was a member of his school’s National Honor Society and he graduated among the Top 15 people in his class. He played an integral role in helping Salisbury High School capture two state championships. As a senior, he was team captain. Fisher played for the NC Fusion USSF Academy team.
“Banks is a goalkeeper who communicates and organizes his teammates very well,” Langan said. “He is a good shot stopper and is very strong in dealing with crosses”
Kent, a defender from Charlotte, North Carolina’s Providence High School, played for the Charlotte Soccer Academy USSF team. As a senior, he was team captain of his club team. In 2012, he played an integral role in helping his U16 Charlotte Soccer Academy USSF team reach the finals week in Houston, Texas. Kent also was a member of Providence’s National Honor Society.
“Jared is a dominant center back with a huge presence,” Langan said. “He is a very conscientious player who takes great pride in his defending.”
Nartowicz, a midfielder from Orlando, Florida’s Dr. Phillips High School, played for the Florida State ODP team for three years. He also was selected to the Region 3 ODP teams in 2010 and 2012 that went on tours of Guadalajara, Mexico. In 2012, he helped his Florida ODP team win the National Championship. He played for the Orlando City USSF team and the Orlando City U’23 team.
“Johnny is a technical center midfielder who reads the game well,” Langan said. “He is very clean in possession and has a great range of passing off both feet.”
Rutherford, a forward from Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina’s Fuquay-Varina High School, was ranked 35th in the 2014 class by College Soccer News. In 2011, he was invited to the U17 National Team Residency Program in Bradenton, Florida. He played an integral role in helping his ’95 NC Alliance Club team win three straight state cups and earn a number six national ranking. He earned All-American, first-team All-State, All-Region and All-Conference honors. In 2014, he played in the North Carolina East-West All-Star game.
“Dean comes to us with a fantastic goal scoring record from his previous teams,” Langan said. “He is a player who comes to life in the opponent’s box, and is a very accomplished finisher.”
Sloan, a sophomore midfielder who transferred to Charlotte from Erskine College, played for England’s Carlisle United FC U18 team. He also played for the Working Reds FC in England. This summer, he is team captain for the South Carolina Bantams PDL team.
“Mark is an experienced, tenacious sharp midfielder who is busy and bright in possession,” Langan said. “He has a great drive and personality to influence the game and inspire his teammates.”
Steadman, a forward from Kinnelon, New Jersey’s Kinnelon High School, played an integral role in helping his New York Red Bulls USSF Academy team finish first in the NE Division for the last three years. He led his Academy team in scoring during that stretch with 43 goals. He also played for the Region I ODP team and two years for the New Jersey ODP team. He earned All-State, All-County and All-Conference honors at Kinnellon. Steadman was ranked 118th best player in the class of 2014 by College Soccer News.
“Harrison is quick powerful striker with a great presence to draw the game forward,” Landan said. “He is equally effective at holding the ball up or running in behind defenses."
Stewart, a defender from Ball Ground, Georgia’s K 12 International School, was ranked the 105th best player in the class of 2014 by College Soccer News. He played for Jamaica in the U-17 World Cup Qualifying Rounds in Panama. Stewart captained his Georgia United USSF Academy team. He led the Georgia United to consecutive playoff appearances.
“Malcolm is an athletic dominant defender who has great pace and is excellent in the air,” Langan said. “He is composed in possession and can help build attacks from the back.”
Wilson, a forward from Charlotte, North Carolina’s Ardrey Kell High School, scored a goal this spring for the 49ers after enrolling at Charlotte this past January. Wilson was ranked the 131st best player in the class of 2014 by College Soccer News. He set the school record for goals in a season with 31 and career goals with 64. Wilson earned All-Conference honors twice and was a North Carolina Soccer Coaches’ Association All-State selection. Wilson also played club soccer for North Meck and Charlotte Soccer USSF Academy.
“Zhuvonte is a dynamic player with great technique and pace,” Langan said. “He is a great attacking 1v1 player who is an excellent finisher. “
These 11 newcomers join a 49ers roster that begins the season with an exhibition game at UNC Asheville, Wednesday, August 20. Charlotte begins the regular-season at Transamerica Field against Radford, Sunday, August 31 at 6 pm.