Preparations for the start of the college soccer season begin this week for dozens of players with ties to the Philadelphia Union Academy.
Defender Auston Trusty is the most high-profile of the new class of recruits entering college soccer for the first time. The Media native has starred as an amateur for Brendan Burke’s Bethlehem Steel FC team this season while also spending time away with the U.S. U20 and U19 teams.
He’ll be joining some familiar faces at North Carolina this week with fellow incoming freshman Jack Skahan, a midfielder who played for the Union U16s in 2014-2015, and returning players Will Campbell, a redshirt freshman defender, and Sean Wilson, a sophomore midfielder. Senior defender/midfielder Colton Storm also spent time with the Union Academy back before it was a full-time operation.
While North Carolina leads the way in terms of number of alumni in their ranks, the always powerful Atlantic Coast Conference will have a host of other new and returning players who have worn the blue and gold.
Defender Robert Campbell and former Union Academy forward Michael Swift are joining Clemson, which is coming off a season where they were one win away from a national title. Midfielder Joseph DeZart II is heading to Wake Forest along with former U16 forward Isaiah Young. Forwards Raheem Taylor-Parkes, Jerren “J.J.” Nixon, and Leon Maric, who played for the Union before joining Continental FC Delco the past two seasons, will be settling in at Virginia.
The Big 10 is gaining a couple Union Academy goalkeeping prospects in Michigan goalkeeper Andrew Verdi and Maryland keeper Justin Bajek. Bajek will be joining Sebastian Elney in College Park, who could be using his sophomore season as an extended tryout for a potential homegrown deal with the Philadelphia Union.
Closer to home, Villanova is gaining a dynamic duo in twin brothers Conor Bradley and Shane Bradley, who will get to link up once again with second year midfielder Zach Zandi. NAIA school the University of Mobile will also have a Union Academy brother connection with incoming freshman Lamine Conte and redshirt freshman Mo Conde.
Defending Ivy League champs Dartmouth will welcome another prolific scorer from the Academy ranks in Tiger Graham, who will join Matthew Greer. Division 2 Palm Beach Atlantic will be gaining Abu Winter and former Union Academy forward Robert Miller III will be heading to Bowling Green.
A trio of transfers with ties to the Union Academy will also be among the new faces at training camp.
Spencer Reinford will be preparing for his first season at Coastal Carolina after winning an NAIA national championship with University of Rio Grande. Midfielder Oliver Calvo will look to help get Division 2 Millersville back to the NCAA tournament after transferring from Louisville and Nick Jachwak will look to earn a starting spot at Division 2 West Chester after transferring from Temple.
Like most things in college soccer, the preseason is short. After a 2-3 game exhibition slate that begins this weekend for many teams, the regular season will kick off the last weekend of the month and run through the end of October. Conference tournaments and the NCAA tournament will then run through November into early December.