FREDERICK, Md. - The Frederick Community College men's soccer team has been very active in recruiting this off-season and have made some serious pickups since their signing day.
Here are some highlights by position:
FCC is excited to welcome new goalkeepers Marco De Lauri and Ben Hilton.
Marco De Lauri
De Lauri is an international student from England and originally attended Monroe Community College, where he was the starting goalkeeper. He previously trained with the Chelsea and Watford's youth academy teams.
De Lauri chose FCC because of the strength of the soccer program and the community.
"I had other offers from other great colleges but this one stood out the most to me," De Lauri said. "I wanted a place where I would feel settled and a place where I could progress. Coach LaRocca had a big role in me coming to FCC – he showed me how he treats his players and how respectful he is of them and that is what I was looking for."
Hilton, who is transferring from MD JUCO powerhouse Patrick Henry Community College, has an amazing presence in the cage with his 6'4 frame.
When asked about why he chose to come to FCC, Hilton said: "I noticed the way Coach LaRocca turned the program around and saw the direction the team was going and the way LaRocca coaches. He keeps his players in check with their grades, which was exactly what I wanted. The campus is also beautiful."
Goalkeeper Coach Mejia is excited about his new crop of goalies.
"I am extremely excited and confident in the group of keepers we have coming in this season. I think that these guys have what it takes to take the team all the way this year."
Maglorie Lavodrama and Kenny Simms will be adding some talent to the Cougar's group of forwards.
Lavodrama, who is originally from the Central Republic of Africa, is coming to FCC from Phelps ACE High School in Washington, D.C. In addition to excelling in soccer at Phelps, he also ran track and has competed in the Junior Olympics.
"I know Maglorie will be a great fit with what we are trying to do as a team moving forward with not only our soccer, but with the character we are bringing into the locker room," LaRocca said.
Simms is a graduate of Gov. Thomas Johnson High School, where he was a First Team All-Frederick selection.
I chose FCC because I feel this is the best place for me to become successful and further my education and play soccer at a high level with great players and coaches," Simms said.
As a local player, Simms was able to watch the team play last season and knows some of the current players.
"Kenny was being recruited by a lot of local heavy hitters and I am so glad he chose to be a Cougar," Coach LaRocca said.
The Cougars have a great group of talented midfielders coming on board with Elmer Ochoa, Aduragbemi Peters, Garthy Smith, Aron Vidaurre, and Pete Wickiser.
Ochoa was a First Team All-Conference player for JEB Stuart High School and will be a key contributor for the Cougars next season in the center midfield as a flashy distributor with tremendous pace.
"I chose to come to FCC because of where this soccer program is now," Ochoa said. "It has one of the best coaches in Maryland, just won the Maryland JUCO, and finished with a strong season record. It also allows me to stay close to family at least for the next 2 years."
Peters played as a winger for the Baltimore Bays and Owings Mills High School. He is a great athlete who has the ability to play a lot of different positions.
I chose FCC because I felt that it was the best fit for me academically and athletically," Peters said. "I know that coach LaRocca will push me to new heights physically and mentally. FCC will help me accomplish my goals of playing high level soccer and going on to a good four-year school."
Smith hails originally from Liberia and graduated from Oxon Hill High School. He is known for his hard nose play and skill on the ball.
"I chose to come to FCC because it's diverse and unique," Smith said. "The team is built on different cultures around the world and having different cultures is what makes a great team and family."
"Garthy is a perfect example of what we aim to be defensively with his hard nose play," Coach LaRocca said. "I hope it rubs off on all of us. He has had an amazing journey to get here and I am so glad he will be a Cougar."
Vidaurre just recently won a state championship at Pikesville High School where he was a leader on the team. He also played winger for the Baltimore Bays.
"I was looking for a program that would give me the best education and the best time on the field and FCC gave me both," Vidaurre said.
"What attracted us about Aron was his unbelievable technical ability and the fact that he is a proven winner," Coach LaRocca said. "We want to win the Region XX title this year and bringing in players with a winning history is crucial to doing that."
Wickiser a midfielder from Hereford High School and also a former player for the Baltimore Bays.
"FCC will give me the opportunity to develop my soccer career while continuing my education alongside my Baltimore Bay teammates," Wickiser said.
"Pete has competed in wrestling and lacrosse and you can tell he is not afraid of contact and has a great skill set to his game as well," Coach LaRocca said.
As the number one deference in the Maryland JUCO last year, the Cougars hope to continue their success with some key additions on the defensive side of the ball in Chris McMahon, Murtada Shannon, and Tyrique Stephenson.
McMahon, a center back, comes from Gov. Thomas Johnson High school where he was an Honorable Mention All-Frederick selection.
"I'm excited to work with tons of talented players and coaches and work to bring trophies to the program," McMahon said.
"Chris has good size and speed, is a very hard worker, and has tremendous distribution from the back," Coach LaRocca said. "I think his future is very bright."
Shannon will play center back for the Cougars and brings a wealth of knowledge to the team after being coached by one of the best coaches in the country in Julio Arjona with the OBGC Roadrunners.
"When Murtada came to us for his first recruit day, I mentioned to him that he should get stronger and he took that advice seriously," Coach LaRocca said. "I barely recognized him his next recruit day and that was the selling point for me. You know what you're going to get when you get an Arjona-coached player – hardworking, intelligent, and organized."
Stephenson is an outside back from Dundalk High School who brings speed and quickness to the position.
"Tyrique is another guy who had a lot of options so we are really glad he is bringing his competiveness to FCC," Coach LaRocca said. "I know every day he will push himself and his teammates to get better."