UTPA Men's Soccer Unveils First Recruiting Class In 18 Years

Paul Leese, UTPA Men's Soccer Coach

University of Texas-Pan American men TMs soccer head coach Paul Leese announced on Tuesday the program TMs first recruiting class since 1997, with the signing of 14 student-athletes for 2015-16.

The class includes two local student-athletes, including 5-6 Hanna High School alum and former UT Brownsville midfielder Juan Garcia, and 5-8 Brownsville Rivera forward/midfielder Isidro Chelin Martinez.

Also joining the program are 6-3 goalkeeper Esa Aalto, 6-0 defender Fernando Arrellano, 6-1 defender Markus Bjrs, 6-2 goalkeeper Leo Castillo, 6-2 defender Sergio Cavazos, 6-0 defender/midfielder Frederik Frankman, 5-10 midfielder/forward Hamilton Gmah Jr., 5-9 midfielder Rico Laitinen, 5-8 midfielder/forward Ruhmayne Marrett, 5-8 forward Rushayne Marrett, 5-10 midfielder Miko Puuskari, and 5-11 forward Olli Tynkkynen.

I am very proud to announce the players who will become the first student-athletes to represent our men TMs soccer team, Broncs head coach Paul Leese said. It is a massive challenge to recruit an entire team in just one year, but it has also been an exciting one. Our primary focus as a coaching staff has been to identify young men who have the character and leadership to build a championship level Division I program. It is imperative that from the beginning we establish the right identity for the men TMs soccer program. We want the program to earn respect within the university community, the Rio Grande Valley, the Western Athletic Conference and throughout the country. We have one opportunity to get this right and I believe we have recruited players who are disciplined, selfless and committed to writing this new chapter in our athletic history.

Garcia joins the program from the University of Texas at Brownsville, where, in 2014, he helped his team to a conference championship and a spot in the national title match by scoring two goals with four assists. While at Hanna High School in Brownsville, Garcia dished out 37 assists as a senior while helping his team to District and Regional Championships as well as a spot in the state championship match. He played club soccer for Thunders United, helping them to back-to-back national championships. Garcia has also participated in the Olympic Development Program and the Houston Dynamo Academy. He was among the top five in the nation for the Sierra Mist Dribble, Pass and Shoot contest.

Martinez is still active as the captain at Brownsville Rivera, TMs No. 2 team in the nation, which is set to put its 24-0 record on the line in the 6A State Semifinals on Friday. Former Broncs men TMs soccer player Salvador Garcia coaches Rivera. The leading goal scorer in District 32-6A this season, Martinez was a 32-5A All-District and All-Valley First Team selection as a freshman and a sophomore, the Offensive Player of the Year as a sophomore and a junior, and the Newcomer of the Year as a freshman. He has helped his team to a pair of district titles and three regionals in his time there. Off the field, Martinez is in the top 10 percent of his class and a member of the National Honor Society. He has played his club soccer most recently with RGV Grandes FC in McAllen, where he has served as team captain. He also helped South Texas YSA to the state finals in 2011 and the President TMs Cup in 2010.

I TMm very pleased to say that we will have the best talent from the Rio Grande Valley representing men TMs soccer in our first year back, Leese said. This is a soccer mad community and our local players have the desire to play at the Division I level. Isidro Martinez was last year TMs Offensive Player of the Year and he is leading the scoring charts this year. I am very excited to see him fulfill his potential at the college level. Juan Garcia was an NAIA National Finalist with UT Brownsville last year and he will bring immediate experience and leadership that will benefit our younger players like Isidro. I know the Rio Grande Valley community will enjoying watching these players grow and develop and we will play an exciting brand of soccer that they will also enjoy watching this fall.

Originally from Turku, Finland, Aalto played for FC Inter Turku and Pargas IF. He led the FC Inter Turku Under-19 team to the 2011 Finish Championship before finishing in third place in 2013.

Arrellano comes to the program from Richland College, where he was an NSCAA and NJCAA First Team All-American, as well as an NSCAA First Team All-East Region selection while serving as team captain. Arrellano played his freshman season at Tyler Junior College, and he led both of his teams to the NJCAA National Championship match. Arrellano attended Sulpher Springs High School (District 19-4A), where he was a First Team All-State and First Team All-District selection as well at the District MVP. He played his club soccer for the Queretaro FC under-20 team in Liga Mexico Youth Academy.

Bjrs joins the program from Espoo, Finland, where he plays for FC Honka. He was named the best player in the Helsinki Cup and one of the defenders on the best starting 11 for the Domestic Cup. He was the best junior player on the club, attended European Championship Qualifiers, and helped his teams to a Finnish Championship, and a Ratingen Tournament (Germany) Championship. Bjrs also has experience with the national team, for whom he scored a goal.

Castillo comes to the program from Tyler Junior College, where, as a freshman, he was an NJCAA Second Team All-American, an NSCAA First Team All-South Region selection, and a First Team All-Conference selection after recording 11 shutouts with a 0.81 goals against average and leading his team to the National Championship match. As a sophomore, Castillo posted seven shutouts and a 0.93 goals against average en route to the NJCAA National Championship. Castillo played his club soccer for the Houston Dynamo Under-18 US Soccer Developmental Academy from 2011-13.

Cavazos joins the program from Northeast Texas Community College, where he played for current Broncs assistant coach Donovan Dowling. Cavazos was a two-year starter and scored the game-winning goal against No. 2 Richmond. He helped his team to the 2014 NJCAA Tournament and the No. 4 ranking in the nation with a 17-4-2 record. Originally from Amarillo, Cavazos attended Palo Duro High School, where he was a First Team All-District selection, the Defender of the Year, and team captain, while leading his team to a regional championship.

Frankman played at Coastal Carolina University the last two seasons, redshirting last season. In 2013, his team won the Big South Conference regular season and tournament championships. Frankman played in 10 matches, including a career-high 78 minutes in a start against No. 15 Charlotte. Originally from Copenhagen, Denmark, Frankman was a member of the Danish Second Division club Fremad Amager in 2012 and 2013, and club HIK in 2011-12, helping the latter to a first-place showing while scoring one goal. He was also a member of the Danish Under-15 national team from 2007-08.

Originally from London, England, Gmah comes to the program from Cypress Falls High School, where he earned All-State Honorable Mention, First Team All-District honors, a Vype Magazine Player of the Year Nomination, and a spot on the CFISO All-Tournament Team. He played his club soccer for Fulham FC and Texas United.

Originally from Lahti, Finland, Laitinen joins the program from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, where he helped his team to the second round of the NCAA Division II Tournament. Laitinen played his club soccer for FC Reipas, FC Lahti, FC Lahti Akatemia and FC Hameenlinna. He was the A-Junior Team Captain for FC Reipas, for whom he was also named the Best Talented Junior Player in 2008. Laitinen also played in 24 games for the national team in Finland, including two appearances on the Under-19 team in 2011, four appearances on the Under-18 team in 2010, eight appearances on the Under-17 team in 2009, six appearances on the Under-16 team in 2008 and four appearances on the Under-15 team in 2007.

Originally from Kingston, Jamaica, Ruhmayne Marrett comes to the program from St. Mary TMs College in Trinidad and Tobago after attending Calabar High School in Jamaica. Marrett helped his team to the Under-14 and Under-16 titles at St. Mary TMs. He also played club soccer for Portmore United FC and was called into camp for the Jamaica Under-17 National Team to help in preparation for the 2011 U-17 World Cup.

Originally from Kingston, Jamaica, Ruhshayne Marrett, Ruhmayne TMs brother, joins the program from St. Mary TMs College in Trinidad and Tobago, where he was the Under-16 top scorer and MVP while leading his team to the Intercol Championship. He was called into camp for the Jamaica Under-17 National Team to help in preparation for the 2011 U-17 World Cup.

Puuskari comes to the program from Espoo, Finland, where he played in seven games in the highest league, Veikkausliiga, scoring one goal. He played his club soccer for FC Kasiysi, GrIFK, HJK, and FC Honka. He was named the best junior player while with FC Honka, earning All-Region honors. He was chosen as one of the best 11 in the domestic cup, and the best player in the HJK Tournament.

Tynkkynen comes to the program from Temple University, where he once earned an American Athletic Conference Rookie of the Week award while appearing in 17 matches (13 starts). Originally from Lahti, Finland, he played his club soccer for FC Lahti and the Finnish Youth National team. He is also a member of Finland TMs under-19 national team.

I believe the student-athletes will represent the Rio Grande Valley well on the soccer field and in the classroom, Leese said. Our coaching staff and I have spent a great deal of time getting to know our recruits as people as well as student-athletes. The interest in our program throughout the State of Texas and across the country has been overwhelming. Young soccer players recognize the potential this program has to achieve great things and I believe we have capitalized on that energy to recruit great talent in our inaugural year. This class contains seven youth national team players, three All-Americans, one NAIA National Championship Finalist, one JuCo National Championship Finalist and a JuCo National Champion. We have searched to find the right balance of youth and experience and equally have strived to balance the team well in each position on the field. The challenge we will now face is ensuring that so many new players are able to gel as a team in a very short space of time in preparation for the fall season.

"I am exceptionally pleased that these individuals have chosen to join us here and look forward to helping each player grow and develop, as soccer players, and as young men. I am very excited to compete this season and hope the entire Rio Grande Valley will come out and support their new men TMs soccer team in the fall.

NAME POS. HT WT YR HOMETOWN/PREVIOUS SCHOOL CLUB TEAM Esa Aalto GK 6-3 185 Fr. Turku, Finland / High School of Kerttuli FC Inter Turku Fernando Arrellano D 6-0 175 Jr. Sulphur Springs, TX / Richland College Queretaro FC U-20 Markus Bjrs D 6-1 187 Fr. Espoo, Finland / High School of Haukilahti FC Honka Leo Castillo FK 6-2 180 Jr. Houston, TX / Tyler Junior College Houston Dynamo U-18 Sergio Cavazos D 6-2 180 Jr. Amarillo, TX / Northeast Texas Community College Amarillo Lightning Frederik Frankman D/M 6-0 178 R-So. Copenhagen, Denmark / Coastal Carolina Fremad Amager Juan Garcia M 5-6 140 Jr. Brownsville, TX / University of Texas at Brownsville Thunders United Hamilton Gmah Jr. M/F 5-10 150 Fr. London, England / Cypress Falls High School Fulham FC Rico Laitinen M 5-9 172 Jr. Lahti, Finland / UNC Pembroke FC Reipas Ruhmayne Marrett M/F 5-8 131 Fr. Kingston, Jamaica / St Mary TMs College (Trinidad and Tobago) Portmore United FC Ruhshayne Marrett F 5-8 130 Fr. Kingston, Jamaica / St Mary TMs College (Trinidad and Tobago) Portmore United FC Isidro Martinez F/M 5-8 155 Fr. Brownsville, TX / Simon Rivera Early College High School RGV Grandes FC Miko Puuskari M 5-10 168 Fr. Espoo, Finland / High School of Kauniainen FC Kasiysi Olli Tynkkynen F 5-11 180 So. Lahti, Finland / Temple FC Lahti

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