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Petersen's recruiting class full of highlights

From Staff Reports

Clayton State head men's soccer coach Pete Petersen announced on Tuesday the additions of nine newcomers to the Laker fold for the 2010 season.

The 2010 Clayton State men's soccer recruiting class consists of two forwards, four midfielders, a defender and two goalkeepers. In addition, the Lakers will also welcome the services of forward Deni Lulic to the squad this season. A former NJCAA All-American at Tyler (Texas) Junior College, Lulic was recruited last season to Clayton State, but had to take an NCAA redshirt season.

Normally a midfielder, Lulic will move up top to forward this season and join returning juniors Leighton Fredericks and Ryan Pugh in giving the Lakers a lethal scoring combination. Clayton State is coming off an 11-6-1 mark in the 2009 season, including 5-2-1 in the Peach Belt Conference.

"We have a solid group of juniors and seniors for the upcoming season," said Petersen, who is 69-32-15 entering his seventh season at the Clayton State helm. "However, these nine can plug in some key holes, especially at goalkeeper and midfield."

Replacing All-Peach Belt Conference and All-Southeast Region goalkeeper David Cristofoli was a top priority for Petersen during the off-season. Aiming to step up is a pair of transfers – Brian Garcia from NJCAA power Georgia Perimeter and Ryan Edwards from NAIA power Berry.

Garcia, a junior from Jonesboro, Ga., was a two-year starter at Georgia Perimeter. He garnered NJCAA All-Region honors last season as a sophomore, helping pace Georgia Perimeter to the NJCAA National Championship game. In his two seasons at Georgia Perimeter, Garcia had impressive goals-against averages of 0.59 as a freshman and 0.76 as a sophomore.

Edwards, a junior from Douglasville, Ga., lettered two seasons at Berry, starting last season as a sophomore. He helped pace the Vikings to a 12-2-4 mark in Berry's transition from NAIA to NCAA Division III status. Edwards recorded 41 saves, and allowed only eight goals in 1,055 minutes for an impressive 0.68 goals-against average.

Two-time NCCAA All-American Marcel Pries headlines the four newcomers at the midfield area. A native of Porto Alegra, Brazil, Preis transfers to Clayton State from NAIA power Spring Arbor. Petersen looks for Preis to step in and replace Peach Belt co-Player of the Year Kyle Timm at attacking center midfield this season.

Preis scored four goals with five assists for 13 points during his freshman season at Spring Arbor, followed by 14 goals and three assists for 31 points this past season.

In addition to Preis, a trio of talented freshmen join the fold at midfield – Taoufik Belhaj from Rabat, Morocco; Leslie Samuels from Johannesburg, South Africa and Rhys Jukes from Washington, England. Belhaj played for both the Moroccan U-17 and U-19 National Teams.

Two exciting freshmen forwards aim to make an immediate impact offensively for the Lakers this season. Arturo Cruz comes to Clayton State following a celebrated prep career at Atlanta's Riverwood High School, in which he was the Northeast Fulton Player of the Year with 17 goals and 14 assists as a senior in leading the Raiders to the second round of the Class AAA State Playoffs.

In addition, Cruz plays for the prestigious nationally-ranked Atlanta-area club Concorde Fire. The Fire finished seventh in this season's U-18 National Championships, and Cruz was extended an invitation to the United States U-18 National Team training camp.

Also joining the Laker fold is David Duot from Atlanta's Druid Hills High School. Duot scored 13 goals as a senior this season at Druid Hills, and also plays for the U-18 club state champion Gwinnett Soccer Association.

The lone new defender is freshman Kevin Rodriguez from Duluth High School in Duluth, Ga. Rodriguez was a Class AAAAA All-County selection by the Gwinnett Daily Post and a teammate of Cruz with the Concorde Fire.

Clayton State opens the 2010 season on Sept. 3 against Belmont Abbey in the Laker Shootout.