Men's Soccer Introduces 2013 Rookie Class

Maryland Athletics
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May 29, 2013

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The Maryland men's soccer program will welcome a talented group this summer as the Terps formally announced their six-member freshman class of 2013 on Wednesday.

The Terps's signing class is ranked third in the nation according to and features two members of the U-18 U.S. men's national team with the signing of Zack Steffan and Suli Dainkeh.

"We are very excited to welcome our 2013 class to the Maryland Soccer family," head coach Sasho Cirovski, who is entering his 21st season at Maryland, said. "All six of these young men have great skill sets and will make their mark in our program.  They all come from great families and possess outstanding character.  

"Additionally, they come from very good high school and club programs where they have all earned the affection and respect of not only their coaches, teammates but also their rivals.  That speaks volumes about them. Integrating this group with an outstanding and hungry returning group makes us very excited about the potential of this team in 2013."

The Terps return eight starters - including MAC Hermann Trophy winner Patrick Mullins - from last year's squad which advanced to the College Cup and won both the ACC regular season and tournament championship.

Below is rundown of this year's signing class:

Gahanna, Ohio • 6'5" - 195
Gahanna Lincoln HS

Before Maryland: Enrolled a semester early at Maryland...went a combined 40-1-3 at Gahanna Lincoln in 2011 and 2012...also competed for coach Billy Thompson and the Crew Academy...a two-time state champion in baseball...ranked the #16 defender by State Cup Champions with Worthington United... was leading scorer with 28 goals...Crew Juniors were State Cup Runner-up in 2009...First Team All-District in 2011.

Personal: Alexander Crognale was born August 27, 1994 in Columbus, Ohio...son of Corey and Karen Crognale...father played baseball at Marietta...has two brothers, Ben and Eli...came to Maryland to for 'the great soccer program, very good athletics and just felt like the right fit'...enjoys longboarding and basketball in his spare time...major is finance.

Cirovski on Crognale: "Alex is a big, strong and skillful Center Back.  He reads the game very well and is comfortable playing out of the back.  He has a nice blend of some Clarence Goodson and Omar Gonzalez traits in his game.  He progressed very rapidly this spring after a prolonged injury."

Reston, Va. • 5'11" - 162
South Lakes HS

Before Maryland: Member of the U-18 national team... The 2012 Gatorade State Player of the Year in Virginia...2012 First Team All-Met, All-Region and Liberty District...2010 U-17 MLS SUM Cup Champion... ranked the #16 midfielder by a member of D.C. United Academy.

Personal: Suliaman Dainkeh was born June 1, 1995 in Freetown, Sierra Leone... son of Alfred and Isatu Turay... nickname is Suli... coach is Marty Pfiester... came to Maryland because of its great academic and athletic programs... favorite pregame meal is chicken and pasta... sports hero is Michael Essien.

Cirovski on Dainkeh: "Suli is an excellent defender capable of playing anywhere across the back line.  He reminds us of AJ Delagarza in that he is a fierce competitor that takes pride in his defending.  His many experiences with the US U-18 MNT are proof that he is poised to have an immediate impact."

Duluth, Ga. • 5'9" - 140
Greater Atlanta Christian School

Before Maryland: Lived in England from 2009-2012 where he attended Brentwood School and played club soccer for West Ham United...ranked the #28 midfielder and #57 overall on the IMG Academy 150 on field player in state of Georgia selected for 2012 USSF Development Academy All-Star Showcase...part of state semifinalist high school squad in 2012...played club soccer with Georgia United when he returned to states.

Personal: Daniel Gibson Johnson was born Sept. 8, 1995...son of Steve and Anne Johnson... has three brothers, Zack, Nick and Drew... Zack played soccer at Georgia Southern...lists his sports hero as Luke Modric...craziest ambition is to play in a World Cup... biggest thrill was being a ball boy at a West Ham/Arsenal game...undecided on major.

Cirovski on Johnson: "DJ is a very gifted soccer player.  His technical ability on the ball, his vision, and his creativity are truly special.  His experience at West Ham Academy certainly accelerated his soccer IQ to another level.  He can play any of the attacking midfield positions."

Mitchellville, Md. • 5'10" - 155
DeMatha Catholic HS

Before Maryland: Member of AB Bethesda for six years... won the 2011 national championship... named All-WCAC Player of the Year, All-County Player of the Year and First Team All-Met in 2012... tabbed First Team All-WCAC, All-County, and All-Met in 2011... named Third Team All-WCAC in 2010... high school team finished 16-1-1 in 2012... tallied nine goals and seven assists in 2012.

Personal: Christopher Odoi-Atsem was born May 28, 1995 in Howard County... son of Ablade and Pamela Odoi-Atsem...siblings are Steven and Leslie... high school coach was Dafydd Evans... came to Maryland because of its ‘academic reputation and outstanding soccer program’...major is business.

Cirovski on Odoi-Atsem: "After seeing Chris as a 12 year old camper, we knew we wanted to make him a Terp.  He is an extremely athletic player who has refined his skill in the last few years.  Chris can play striker, wide midfielder or outside back.  His character and competitiveness will ensure his rapid development."

Glen Arm, Md. • 5'9" - 150
Archbishop Curley HS

Before Maryland: Member of the DC United Academy U-18 club team for two years... named NSCAA All-American, First Team All-South, All-Region, All-State, All-Metro and All-MIAA in 2012... a Second Team All-State, All-Metro and All-MIAA pick in 2011.

Personal: Michael John Sauers was born May 19, 1995 in Baltimore, Md... son of Jeffrey and Suzette Sauers... has two siblings, Michelle and Jeffrey... Jeffrey is on the men’s gymnastics team at the Navy... high school coach was Barry Stitz... club coach was Nolan Sheldon... also played golf for four years in high school... biggest sports thrill is scoring a free kick against McDonogh to win the game with one minute left to play... volunteers at Habitat for Humanity and Rose of Sharon Equestrian Center... came to Maryland because of the soccer program and it is in his home state... major is kinesiology.

Cirovski on Sauers: "Mike is a complete soccer player.  He has a great feel for the game and is very tidy on the ball.  He can play any of the midfield positions as well as left back.  He has a little Scotty Buete to his game which should get our fans excited."

Downingtown, Pa. • 6'2" - 185
Downingtown West HS

Before Maryland: U.S. National Team member since U-14... goalkeeper for U-18 MNT... also regularly called up to the U-20 MNT...U.S. Soccer Development Academy Eastern Conference Player of the Year in 2011-12... played with FC Delco for five years...won state title in 2007 with West Chester United and in 2009 with FC Delco... named Ches-mont League MVP in 2012... tabbed All-Southeaster PA, All-State and All-American in 2012... ranked the #1 goalkeeper by

Personal: Zackary Thomas Steffen was born June 2, 1995 in Coatesville, Pa... son of Derek and Stefanie Steffen... has four siblings, Kaitlyn, Alexis, Ben and Cole... high school coach was John Hatt... club coach was Alan Mezger... biggest sports thrill is beating Holland 4-2 in Holland with the U-18 national Team... aspires to play soccer professionally in Europe after he graduates... came to Maryland because of the soccer, the campus and the soccer fans... major is marketing.

Cirovski on Steffen: "Zack is a fantastic Goalkeeper and an even better person.  He is a great athlete who possesses a great work ethic.  The sky is the limit for Zack.  His experience with the U-18 and U-20 National Teams should help accelerate his transition to the college game."