Feb. 7, 2007
The men’s soccer program has announced a group of 11 student-athletes who have committed to continue their academic and soccer careers at the University of South Carolina. The class includes four players who have participated in the United States Youth National team pool, seven current or former Region team players, three high school All-Americans, two adidas Elite Soccer Program participants and one state player of the year.
“We are very pleased with this class. This group is athletic and talented and they will certainly help our program in the near term,” South Carolina head coach Mark Berson said. “We addressed all our needs with this group – and our needs were significant. We lost six senior starters and there will be an opportunity for these players and our current returning players to step up and take a lot of responsibility in our team next year.”
Biographical sketches, comments from Berson and quotes from each of the student-athletes are included below:
2007 Commitment List
Sam Arthur 6-0 185 Forward Roswell, Ga. (Greater Atlanta Christian School)
Vance Benson 5-10 150 Midfielder Rock Hill, S.C. (Northwestern High School)
Blake Brettschneider 6-0 170 Forward Lilburn, Ga. (Parkview High School)
Sam Kleckley 5-10 160 Defender Greenville, S.C. (Greenville Senior High Academy)
Ben Leblois 6-0 175 Defender Atlanta, Ga. (Atlanta International School)
Mike Lindsay 6-0 175 Forward Starkville, Miss. (Starkville High School)
Bryan Lowder 6-1 180 Forward Brentwood, Tenn. (Louisville/Brentwood High School)
Jimmy Maurer 6-3 185 Goalkeeper Lawrenceville, Ga. (St. Pius X Catholic High School)
Evan O’Dell 6-2 190 Defender Duluth, Ga. (Peachtree Ridge High School)
Josh Stewart 6-0 180 Midfielder Vestavia, Ala. (Vestavia Hills High School)
Will Traynor 6-2 160 Midfielder St. Charles, Mo. (Francis Howell North High School)
Forward >> 6-0 >> 185
Roswell, Ga. (Greater Atlanta Christian School)
Currently a member of the United States National team Under-18 player pool, Region III Olympic Development Team and the Georgia State Team 2002-05 … Named one of the nation’s top 10 soccer recruits by RISE Magazine … Garnered National Soccer Coaches Association of America adidas All-America honors in 2006 … Invited to the adidas Elite Soccer Program in 2006… Holds the Greater Atlanta Christian School record for most goals in a season and career … Helped his team to regional titles, 2004-2006, and an appearance in the state finals in 2006 … Named Gwinett County Super Six … Named first-team all-County in 2005 and 2006 … Earned All-South honors in 2006 … Played club soccer for the Atlanta Fire United and coach Massoud Roushandel … Club team won the Georgia state and Region III titles in 2006 and made the Region III finals in 2005 … Led the Region III Premier League East in goals and overall points in both 2005 and 2006 … Was also the league’s assist leader in 2006 … Involved in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in high school … Born Aug. 9, 1989 … Parents are Philip and Vera Arthur … Intends to major in international business at USC … Full name is Samuel Everett Arthur.
Sam Arthur on Choosing South Carolina: “I chose to attend USC because I felt that it is the best place for me to succeed both academically and athletically. There’s a long tradition of great soccer success at USC and I am looking forward to the opportunity of competing for a national championship.”
Coach Berson on Sam Arthur: “Sam is one of the top strikers coming out in the class of 2007. Sam has good size. He holds defenders off well, he turns well and he has a knack for scoring goals. He has been one of the dominant players in the Region III premier league last year. He will be counted on to help us up front this year.”
Forward >> 6-0 >> 170
Lilburn, Ga. (Parkview High School)
Currently a member of the Georgia and the Region III Olympic Development Program teams … Attends Parkview High School where he plays soccer for coach Mike Tolmich … Helped Parkview to the 2005 State Championship … Chosen Gwinnett County Super Six and All-Gwinnett County … Served as a varsity soccer captain … Also played football in high school, serving as the team’s kicker and punter … Football squad reached the state finals in 2005 … Was a six-time Special Teams Player of the Week … Recognized by RISE Magazine as an All-Area performer for soccer … Played club soccer for the Atlanta Fire United and coach Massoud Roushandel … Born April 11, 1989 … Parents are Richard and Marcia Brettschneider … Full name is Blake Christian Brettschneider.
Blake Brettschneider on Choosing South Carolina: “USC seemed like a great fit. The chance to play for an excellent soccer program and get a great education were appealing. With such great players already on the team and a number coming, I believe we will be very successful.”
Coach Berson on Blake Brettschneider: “Blake is an excellent forward who has a lot of the qualities we look for in the attack. He is very good with either foot, and can play with his back to the goal. He has good acceleration and he’s good in the air. Blake has been a proven goal scorer at the regional level and I believe he will be an excellent addition to our team next year.”
Forward >> 6-0 >> 175
Starkville, Miss. (Starkville High School)
Currently a member of the United States Under-18 National team pool … Also a current member of the Region III team … A state team forward for the Mississippi Olympic Development Program … Plays for coach Brian Bennett at Starkville High School … Won the Golden Boot Award by scoring the most goals in eighth through 12th grades … Named the Most Outstanding Offensive Player as a sophomore … Selected the co-MVP of the team as a junior … Team advanced to the state playoffs each season … Competed in club soccer for the Tupelo Futbol Club and coach Nathan Hall, winning three state championships, two Premier League Championships and advancing to regionals twice … Also participated in track, baseball and football at the prep level … Earned All-America honors as a member of the 4×200 relay team from Starkville, Miss., at the 2007 National Scholastic Indoor Championship … An honor roll student who is a member of the National Honor Society … Named Most Outstanding Sophomore by the Starkville faculty … Born Jan. 26, 1989 … Parents are Gaye Lindsay and the late Tom Lindsay … Full name is Michael Thomas Lindsay.
Mike Lindsay on Choosing South Carolina: “I chose USC because it’s a great SEC school that plays in a competitive soccer conference. It has great soccer coaches and is a great academic school.”
Coach Berson on Mike Lindsay: “Mike has tremendous pace and is very explosive with the ball at his feet. He can play up top, and in the midfield, either centrally or wide. Mike is a tough competitor and he works very hard in attack and defensively. He will bring a lot of excitement and a great work ethic, as well as the ability to score goals, to the forward position.”
Forward >> 6-1 >> 180
Brentwood, Tenn. (Brentwood High School/Louisville)
Transferred to South Carolina for the spring semester from the University of Louisville, where he was a member of the Cardinals soccer team in the fall of 2006 … Garnered National Soccer Coaches Association of America adidas High School All-America honors in 2006 … Named the 2006 Gatorade Tennessee Soccer Player of the Year … Also, named The Tennessean’s Midstate Soccer Player of the Year … A member of the Region III Olympic Development Program and Tennessee state teams … Played four years for Brentwood High School, leading the team in scoring each season … Named the District Player of the Year his senior season … Earned all-state, all-midstate, all-region and all-district honors his sophomore, junior and senior seasons … Named District Offensive Player of the Year and County Player of the year his junior season, as well as County Player of the Year his sophomore season … Helped lead his team to a state championship in 2005 and a state quarterfinal appearance his senior season … Finished his high school career as Brentwood High School’s all-time leading scorer and assist leader with 125 career goals and 69 career assists … Played club soccer for the Tennessee Futbol Club … Born January 4, 1988 … Parents are Kim and Roxanne Lowder.
Coach Berson on Bryan Lowder: “Bryan is an effective attacking player up front who brings a great deal of experience to our program. He’s a proven performer on the Region III level and will certainly bolster our attacking play up front. He has the ability to score goals and a knack for making good attacking runs to open up defenses.”
Goalkeeper >> 6-3 >> 185
Lawrenceville, Ga. (St. Pius X Catholic High School)
Member of the United States U-17 National Team pool from 2004-2006 … Played on the Region III Olympic Development Program (ODP) team from 2003-2006 and the Georgia state team for the past six years … Named to the 1988 US Youth Soccer All-American team in 2006 … Member of the Super Y National Elite Team in 2004, 2005 and 2006 … Participated in the adidas Elite Soccer Program in 2005 and 2006, playing goalkeeper on the ’05 championship team … Attended St. Pius X Catholic High School in Atlanta where he played soccer for coach Killebrew Bailey … Garnered Player of the Year honors in 2004 and Team Most Valuable Player honors in 2005 … Led St. Piux X to the state semifinals twice and the quarterfinals once … Named all-county and NSCAA all-region as a forward … Competed in club soccer for coach Massoud Roushandel and the Atlanta Fire United … Served as a team captain and helped the squad to state championships four of five seasons … Team was ranked as high at No. 7 nationally … Also played basketball for three years in high school … Awarded the Mary Callahan Academic and Athletic Scholarship … Elected to the National Congressional Student Leadership Conference in 2005 and 2006 … Has volunteered for a number of community organizations … Born Oct. 14, 1988 … Parents are T.A. and Betsy Maurer … Plans to major in business or international business at Carolina … Full name is James Robert Maurer.
Jimmy Maurer on Choosing South Carolina: “I chose USC due to the coaching staff. They fully understand the goalkeeper position as Coach Berson and Coach Maslow both played goalkeeper and USC has a history of producing great goalkeepers who have earned numerous honors. Another factor was the excellent academic environment at USC and the No. 1 rating of the International Business School, which was very important to me.”
Coach Berson on Jimmy Maurer: “Jimmy is one of the top goalkeepers coming out in the class of 2007. He has good size and great shot-stopping ability. He is good the in the air and at cutting crosses and he’s exceptionally good with his feet. He was one of the better forwards in the state of Georgia when he filled in at that position as a high school player. Jimmy will come in and be a factor at the goalkeeper position early in his career.”
Defender >> 6-2 >> 190
Duluth, Ga. (Peachtree Ridge High School)
Named one of Top Drawer Soccer’s 100 Players to Watch in 2007 … Member of the Olympic Development Program in Georgia from 2002-2006 … Played for coach Bill Holleman at Peachtree Ridge High School … Selected the team’s Most Valuable Player as a sophomore and junior … all-Gwinnett County selection … Played club soccer for the Atlanta Fire United and coach Massoud Roushandel … Helped the Fire win the 2006 State and the Region III Premier League East Division Championships … An honor roll student throughout high school … Part of the Student Leadership Program … Who’s Who Among American High School Students … Born June 22, 1989 … Parents are Rick and Janice O’Dell … Plans to major in business at USC … Full name is Evan Scott O’Dell.
Evan O’Dell on Choosing South Carolina:
“I chose to attend the University of South Carolina because I wanted the opportunity to play under Coach Berson, who is a very successful and well-respected coach, and at the same time earn a degree from a strong academic university.”
Coach Berson on Evan O’Dell:
“Evan has good range and timing in the tackle. He’s excellent in the air and passes the ball well coming out of the back. He has good size and he’s a very tenacious defender both in the air and on the ground. Evan has all the physical qualities that we need in the middle of the back, and as he gains experience, he’s going to be a tremendous asset to our team.”
Midfielder >> 6-0 >> 180
Vestavia, Ala. (Vestavia Hills High School)
Former member of the United States Youth National Team pool, Region III Olympic Development Program (ODP) team and Alabama state team … Played for coach Rick Grammar at Vestavia Hills High School … A 2004 and 2005 first-team All-State selection … Named Offensive Most Valuable Player of the Lakeshore Shootout … Named second-team All-Metro in 2004 and first-team All-Metro in 2005 … Played club soccer for the Vestavia Steamers and coach Luke Whittle … Helped the ’87 club to two state championships (2001 and 2004) and two runner-up finishes (2002 and 2003) … Helped ’89 team win the 2005 State Championship and finish second in 2006 … Born Sept. 22, 1988 … Parents are Marvin and Felicia Stewart … Full name is Joshua Lamont Stewart.
Josh Stewart on Choosing South Carolina: “I chose the University of South Carolina because it has a strong academic program in addition to an excellent soccer program. The facilities provided are incredible and the coaches are top of the line. The soccer atmosphere at South Carolina is very strong and is something that I want to be a part of.”
Coach Berson on Josh Stewart: “Josh has excellent size, good speed and range in the midfield. He’s outstanding in the air and is a threat coming forward with the ball at his feet. Josh can play in the middle of midfield and also play wide. Josh is athletic and versatile enough as a player to help us at a number of positions on the field.”
Midfielder >> 6-2 >> 160
St. Charles, Mo. (Francis Howell North High School)
Former member of the Olympic Development Program (ODP) Region II and Missouri state teams … Two-time team captain and four-year letterwinner at Francis Howell North High School and coach Vince Nowak… Collected first-team All-State honors in 2005 and 2006 … Selected all-conference twice and academic all-conference all four years … Helped team to three District titles (2003, 2004, 2006), two State Title Sectionals (2003, 2006) and a State Title Final Four (2004) … Played for the Scott Gallagher Soccer Club and coach Tom Howe … Team made the USYSA National Finals in 2006 and won the Missouri State Championship 2003-2006 …Well-rounded student who is involved in a number of high school activities … Delegate to the MSHSSA Sportsmanship Summit … Born Feb. 24, 1989 … Parents are Larry and Peg Traynor … Full name is William Laurence Traynor.
Will Traynor on Choosing South Carolina: “I immediately felt comfortable and `at home’ with the coaches and players that I met on my official visit. I liked the way the team played and knew I could fit in well with the other players both on and off the field. I look forward to playing for Coach Berson and learning from all of his experience to continue the success of the Gamecock soccer program.”
Coach Berson on Will Traynor: “Will has good size. He’s excellent in the air and reads the game exceptionally well. He’s a great passer of the ball, both long and short. He starts attacks very well after winning the ball, and he’s technically very sound. He’s a player that is able to sit in defensively in the midfield, win the ball and generate attacks. He has a great background and understanding of the game from his high school and club environment in St. Louis. That set of qualities is going to be an important for us next year.”
Midfielder >> 5-10 >> 150
Rock Hill, S.C. (Northwestern) A four-year letterwinner for coach Dom Wren at Northwestern High School … Earned team Most Valuable Player (MVP) honors in 2006 and serves as a team captain in 2007 … Helped Northwestern to the 2006 State Championship, a final four appearance in 2005 and a runner-up finish in 2004 … Named the MVP Award at the 2006 Palmetto Cup as his team captured the title … Member of the Lake Murray All-Tournament team in 2006 … Played club soccer for CESA ’87 Premier and coach Keith Parkinson … Played on the South Carolina Olympic Development program team 2003-2006 … Participates in Young Life and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes … Born June 24, 1988 … Parents are David and Lise’ Benson … Plans to major in business … Full name is David Vance Benson II.
Vance Benson on Choosing South Carolina: “I chose to attend USC because of the school’s great soccer reputation. I have always wanted to play for a large Division I soccer program. USC has my major and it’s close to home.”
Coach Berson on Vance Benson: “Vance is a very hard-working player that is very good in transition. He maintains his concentration in attack and in defense and works very, very hard. With experience at this level he will become a player that will help us in our program.”
Defender >> 5-10 >> 160
Greenville, S.C. (Greenville Senior High Academy)
Played for coach Ed Joyce at Greenville Senior High Academy … Won the Coaches’ Award for his team in 2006 … Earned All-State honors in 2006 … Also selected all-conference and all-region … Helped team to the Class 3A State Championship in 2004 under coach Warren Turner … Played club soccer for CESA Premier and coach Pearse Tormey, winning state championships in 2003 and 2004 … Reached the Southern Region finals in 2004 … Made the finals of the State Challenge Cup in both 2005 and 2006 … Involved in Beta Club and church activities … Born Sept. 30, 1988 … Parents are Sam and Jeri Kleckley … Intends to major in business at USC … Full name is Samuel Ebener Kleckley.
Sam Kleckley on Choosing South Carolina: “South Carolina is the school that I have always wanted to attend. It is the right place for me. I have been a Gamecock since birth!”
Coach Berson on Sam Kleckley: “Sam is physically strong and technically sound. He reads the game well, and as he gains experience, he will be a player that will help us in the back or midfield.”
Midfielder >> 6-0 >> 175
Atlanta, Ga. (Atlanta International School)
Played for coaches Bob Geiger and Phil Leopold at Atlanta International School … Earned team Most Valuable Player honors in 2006 after breaking the school scoring record … Played club soccer for Greg Blassingame and the Concorde Fire Elite … Team won the Georgia state championship in 2004 and 2006 and reached the state finals in 2005 … Also captured the Region III title and made the national finals in 2006 … Other high school activities include track and field and school newspaper …Born Aug. 23, 1989 … Parents are Axel and Christine Leblois … Plans to major in international business at Carolina … Full name is Benjamin Pierre Leblois.
Ben Leblois on Choosing South Carolina: “I chose to attend USC because of its solid academic program, strong soccer team, proximity to home and its excellent international business program.”
Coach Berson on Ben Leblois: “Ben has good range and reads the game well. He has good timing in the tackle and is a solid passer of the ball coming forward. He has been a solid performer in the back line on an outstanding club team.”