New West defender a key recruit for SFU

The Simon Fraser University’s list of new men’s soccer recruits covers the gamut of team needs.

Among the five players introduced this week for the 2020 fall season are a goalkeeper, a left back, midfielder and a couple of forwards.

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“Overall, we’re extremely happy with this class we’re bringing in,” remarked SFU men’s head coach Clint Schneider. “They fit the need and the identity of what we’re trying to continue to build here at SFU.”

Among the new recruits, New Westminster’s Nikolas Papakyriakopolous fits a targeted need on the backline. The five-foot-11 defender was a product of the Vancouver Whitecaps residency program, and is transferring in after two years at Western Michigan University.

A product of the Royal City (now New West) Soccer Club, followed by a stint with Coquitlam Metro-Ford, Papakyriakopoulos got into seven games as a freshman with the Broncos in 2018. The move back to the west coast was a natural fit, he said.

“I chose SFU because it is close to home, offers a very good business program and a great soccer team,” Papakyriakopoulos said in an SFU press release. “I have played with a lot of the guys in my youth career, and felt very welcomed by them and by the coaching staff.”

As part of Mountain United in 2016, Papakyriakopoulos was a dominating back in their run to a provincial title, named the tourney final MVP.

"We're excited to have Niko." Said Schneider "He's a player that we've known about for a very long time. He's a true well-rounded attacking left back and fits our style of play. He's a very good defender one-on-one as well.”

Another new recruit, Kai Vockeroth, joins SFU from the Port Moody Soccer Club. The 18-year-old Maple Ridge native has made his mark at midfield, but Schneider envisions the six-foot-one player being utilized at numerous spots on the field.

"Kai is a very versatile player who is capable of playing a few different positions. He has been playing in the (Vancouver Metro Soccer League) for Croatia SC and starting games there which is always a good indication," said Schneider.

Up front, Liam Glennon will be joining brother Connor on the SFU roster. The five-foot-10 winger has established himself as a skilled forward who built his resume with the Thompson Okanagan Football Club.

“(Glennon’s) a true winner, he hates losing and we want people with that fire because they tend to improve in a competitive environment," said the coach.

Another forward, Brody Thomas, ripped up the VMSL’s under-21 division as its top scorer.  He was also the leading striker in the Fraser Valley League’s Div. 1.

"(Thomas) is definitely a winner… a warrior, as we like to say. He is very good in the air, battles, works hard and finishes. Brody is extremely coachable, in fact every environment we have seen him in, he continues to take that next step, which says a lot about a player's mentality,” said Schneider.

Netminder Jordan Thorsen, who played with Glennon on the Thompson roster, got his first taste of SFU at a youth camp years ago. The Canadian-Danish dual citizen presents a sizeable – six-foot-four – obstacle for rival shooters, accompanied by a ‘get-at-it’ attitude.

"I have strongly benefitted from the influence of Clan alumni throughout my years of youth soccer and have seen what it means to be part of such a prestigious athletic and academic community," said Thorsen.

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