The University of the Fraser Valley men’s soccer program has reached into the EA Sports BC Soccer Premier League to fortify its roster, signing seven players from the province’s top youth soccer circuit.
Goalkeeper Ryan Venn (who hails from Surrey, B.C.), defenders Max Morgan (Kelowna) and Amir Basra (Surrey), and midfielders Brady Weir (Pitt Meadows), Dylan McCrindle (Coquitlam), AJ Lopez (Coquitlam) and Stephen McMahon (Langley) will join the Cascades for the 2015 fall season as they aim to qualify for the Canada West playoffs for the third consecutive year.
Interim head coach Tom Lowndes, who took the reins of the Cascades last month following the retirement of longtime bench boss Alan Errington, is thrilled at the quality and depth of his first recruiting class.
“It’s a really strong class,” Lowndes enthused. “Technically, they’re very strong, and they’ve all got the ability to come in and make an impact right away.
“I’m excited to see how they adjust to university soccer. And they’re not just good players, they’ve got good character, which is something I look for. I’m really excited about this class, and I think they can help us achieve our goals next season.”
Amir Basra, defender, Surrey United
Basra comes to the Cascades from Surrey United, and had prior stops with Coastal FC and the Abbotsford Mariners, serving as captain of both clubs. The North Surrey Secondary student has also represented the B.C. provincial program on multiple occasions.
“I chose UFV because they have a young team that is already able to compete and will only continue to improve,” Basra said. “I hope to have a strong first year and contribute to the overall success of the soccer program.”
“Amir is a strong defender who can also play out of the back with his passing abilities,” Lowndes said. “I am excited to see him develop and adjust to the speed of play at the CIS level. He is a great leader on the field who will help to drive our young players on.”
AJ Lopez, midfielder, Surrey United
Lopez, a teammate of Basra’s with Surrey United, suited up for the B.C. provincial team at every age group and was a part of the Vancouver Whitecaps residency program. He also represented Canada at the U15/U16 level.
“I chose UFV as I believe I can make an immediate impact to the team as a first-year player,” said Lopez, who attends Dr. Charles Best Secondary. “I am looking forward to continuing my education and soccer career.”
“AJ is a very technical midfielder whose electric pace and power will cause problems for defenders,” Lowndes said. “He is an attack-minded player who can create opportunities for himself and his teammates very quickly. I am excited to have AJ join us this coming August.”
Dylan McCrindle, midfielder, Coquitlam Metro Ford
McCrindle has been a lifelong player at Coquitlam Metro Ford, and has represented the B.C. provincial program multiple times as well.
“I am looking forward to joining the squad and enhancing my academics at UFV,” said McCrindle, a Heritage Woods Secondary senior. “I have high expectations for myself and the team for the year to come.”
“Dylan is a born leader and winner,” Lowndes said. “He exemplifies everything I want our team to be about. He has a fantastic work ethic and an infectious desire to win. He is a quality box-to-box midfielder who can bomb forward and score goals and is also extremely solid defensively. To be able to sign a player of Dylan’s quality is fantastic for our program.”
Stephen McMahon, midfielder, Surrey United
The third member of the Cascades’ 2015 recruiting class from Surrey United is a much-decorated player who has won the BCSPL league championship, the Provincial Cup and the Northwest Pacific Cup during his youth soccer career. Prior to joining Surrey United, the Brookswood Secondary student spent two seasons with the Abbotsford Mariners.
“I chose to join UFV because of its high reputation and standards,” McMahon said. “I believe the UFV men’s soccer team will push me to become the best player I can be. This season I expect to be worked hard, and pushed to the next level where my teammates and I can have success.”
“Stephen is a very intelligent player who reads the game fantastically,” Lowndes said. “He has a great work ethic to match his high technical abilities. I am looking forward to seeing him progress and develop further within our squad.”
Max Morgan, defender, Thompson Okanagan FC
Morgan has been a part of Thompson Okanagan Football Club since its inception in the BC Soccer Premier League, and currently captains their U18 side.
“I chose to play at the University of Fraser Valley because I know that it is the best opportunity for me to grow and succeed as a player,” said Morgan, who is wrapping up his Grade 12 year at George Elliot Secondary. “My expectations for the season are to finish among the top three again in Canada West and look to progress to nationals.”
“Max is a very rare defender – what I like to call an old-fashioned centre back,” Lowndes said. “He is dominant in the air and in the tackle. He reads the game superbly well and anchors the back line with a commanding presence. I am excited to see him bring his winning mentality and look forward to seeing him progress to a leader on our team.”
Ryan Venn, goalkeeper, Fraser Valley FC
Venn, a student at Surrey Christian Secondary, has suited up for several clubs and was most recently with Fraser Valley FC of the BCSPL in 2014. He’s a former provincial bronze medalist.
“I believe the soccer program at UFV has the potential to have great success, and I hope to do my part in pushing this team to nationals,” Venn said.
“Ryan is a solid goalkeeper who will come in and provide competition to our other three keepers,” Lowndes said. “I am looking forward to seeing how he continues to develop in the university soccer environment.”
Brady Weir, midfielder, Coquitlam Metro Ford
Weir, a teammate of McCrindle’s at Coquitlam Metro Ford, has been with the club for the past five seasons and helped his team to consistently high league finishes.
“I chose UFV because it is a good school with a strong, competitive soccer team,” said Weir, who attends Pitt Meadows Secondary. “I am looking forward to helping the team to make playoffs and beyond, and for myself to make a noticeable goal-scoring contribution this season.”
“Brady is a versatile midfielder who can play in a variety of different positions,” Lowndes said. “He is a natural with both his left and right foot and is constantly causing defenders problems with his pace and skill. He is a quality finisher who can score goals for fun. I am excited to have him join our squad for next season.”