Division II has provided the Otters with some of their top players each and this year they were able to bolster their roster on both sides of the ball with this round of signings. These players come from one of the best offenses in the country (Lees-McRae) and two of the best defenses (Ohio Valley and Palm Beach Atlantic), as well as Truman State and Eastern New Mexico.
Centerback Diego Thielen comes to the Otters after teaming up with former Otter Carlos Rubio at Ohio Valley University this past fall. Thielen only appeared in six games this season, but in those games the Fighting Scots only conceded four goals. In his two previous seasons at Ohio Valley, Thielen started all but one game and scored four goals and one assist.
Blake Barribeau joins the team after being a part of one of the best Division II teams from this past season. The American defender, along with former Otter Guillermo Deal, helped secure a #1 seed for the Palm Beach Atlantic Sailfish in the NCAA Tournament. Barribeau only saw limited action but was able to record an assist against USC Aiken. Barribeau is one of three Sailfish that will play for the Otters this season.
Another Sailfish, James Scasserra played alongside Barribeau at Palm Beach Atlantic. Scasserra played almost 700 minutes over 17 appearances. The versatile defender was a part of one of the best defenses in all of Division II last season. The Sailfish finished second in all of Division II with a goals against average of just .380 after allowing only seven goals over 18 games.
Wawa Elifrance just completed his college career at Eastern New Mexico University. He previously played at Coffeyville College in Kansas, before playing his final two seasons in New Mexico. For the Greyhounds, Elifrance played in all but three games over two years, starting in every game.
Forward Taylor Gray comes to the Tri-Cities after a fantastic start to his college career. The sophomore from Maryland has played his first two seasons at Lees-McRae under Otters coach Richard Wall. The Bobcats finished the 2017 season tied for the best scoring offense in all of Division II after averaging 2.95 goals per game. Gray appeared in all 19 games, starting 10, scoring two goals and four assists. This follows up a freshman season in which Gray scored two goals and had five more assists. Gray also has PDL experience after playing for the West Virginia Chaos last summer, making eight appearances and tallying two assists.
Brazilian forward Raphael Campos is the third and final player from Palm Beach Atlantic that will play for the Otters. Even in limited minutes due to Palm Beach’s depth in the attack, Campos was able to record two goals in just 150 minutes of action. Previously, Campos played his freshman season at Jacksonville University where he made five appearances.
The Otters will turn to Guillermo Segovia of Ohio Valley University for scoring up top. Segovia joined up with Rubio and Thielen and helped lead Ohio Valley to their first ever conference championship by scoring eleven goals and also dishing out ten assists. The Fighting Scots were then a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and reached the Sweet Sixteen before losing 1-0 to Rockhurst. Segovia garnered several honors for his spectacular sophomore season including making the GMAC Second Team and being named to the Division II All-Midwest Team.
Matt Yankowitz is an American forward from St. Louis, who currently plays for Truman State University. Yankowitz has spent two seasons with the Bulldogs, appearing in 34 games. He has been able to score four goals in both his freshman and sophomore years and added two assists this year. His four goals this past season came on 26 shots, 14 of which were on target. Yankowitz is also a product of the St. Louis Scott Gallagher Soccer Club, one of the premier youth clubs in the entire country.
Season and single-game tickets are now on sale on ottersoccer.com or through the HappsNow app! Be sure to check social media throughout the week as the rest of the 2018 roster is revealed! The Otters play their first game of the regular season on May 19th in Statesboro, Georgia against Tormenta FC. The Otters will return home on June 8th for their home opener at Kermit-Tipton Stadium against Mississippi Brilla FC. Stay up to date on all things Otters by following us on social media! #FearTheFur