Feb. 10, 2005
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – University of Virginia head men’s soccer coach George Gelnovatch has announced UVa’s 2005 men’s soccer recruiting class. Gelnovatch and and his coaching staff signed an outstanding four-member recruiting class during the National Letter of Intent (NLI) signing period. The class consists of Bakary Soumare (New York, N.Y.), Antonio Di Maggio (River Edge, N.J.), Michael Giallombardo (Manalapan, N.J.) and Robert Rogers (Fairfax Station, Va.) and features what is considered to be one the top defensive units in the country.
With the losses of UVa’s senior defenders Matt Oliver, John Hartman and Jeff Tuman to graduation and the early departure of junior Hunter Freeman to MLS from last year’s team, the Cavaliers targeted the top defensive recruits in the country and landed some of the best talent in the nation to fill those spots.
“We basically lost our entire defense from last season,” said Gelnovatch. “We recruited accordingly and the end result is – we signed one of the best defensive classes in the country.”
In fact, the defensive trio of Soumare (D), Rogers (D) and Giallombardo (GK) is so strong, Gelnovatch believe that each player is capable of landing a starting spot next season – with Soumare and Rogers as the possible frontrunners to do so.
Soumare is a 6′-4″ centerback who is an extremely gifted and athletic soccer player. He participated in a camp at Virginia last year and the Cavaliers were very impressed with his abilities and have been after his services since his visit.
“Our coaching staff knows Soumare very well as both a person and as a player,” said Gelnovatch. “He’s going to step onto our team and could be one of our best players right away.”
Rogers is 5′-11″ back who possesses good speed and agility. He is currently one of only two high school players participating with the U.S. Under-20 National Team.
“Rogers is going to be a special defender and a very special player,” said Gelnovatch. “In Soumare and Rogers, we have two recruits that are two of the best defensive players in the country. Both of them should be able to come in right away and do just as good of a job or better as the players who have departed. I’m very confident in their ability. “
Giallombardo is a 6′-0″ goalkeeper who has been rated as one of the top two goalkeepers in the country by several publications. The Cavaliers currently have a proven and steady goalkeeper in Ryan Burke, and now add a player to the roster who is just as capable and talented to the position with the addition of Giallombardo.
“Giallombardo is a very developed and experienced goalkeeper and he understands he’s going to be competing with Burke for the spot. Instead of having just one very good goalkeeper, we’re going to have two outstanding keepers and they are going to be competing with each other.”
Not to be overshadowed in a defensive oriented recruiting class is Di Maggio, a 6′-0″ forward that is following some very familiar footsteps to UVa. Di Maggio hails from Bergen Catholic High School, the same school that produced former Virginia All-American and eventual M.A.C.. Hermann Trophy winner and #1 MLS draft pick, Alecko Eskandarian.
“Di Maggio was Bergen Catholic’s leading goal scorer and he has a lot of potential,” said Gelnovatch. “He’s got a lot of ability and we are very happy to have him coming here.”
— UVa —