Men’s soccer capitalize on recent success, score six high profile recruits for the class of 2026

Head+coach+Bohn+of+Lafayette+mens+soccer+reflects+on+the+graduating+class+while+looking+to+the+future+with+the+addition+of+six+new+recruits+for+the+class+of+2026.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Lafayette+mens+soccer+on+Instagram%29

Head coach Bohn of Lafayette men’s soccer reflects on the graduating class while looking to the future with the addition of six new recruits for the class of 2026. (Photo courtesy of Lafayette men’s soccer on Instagram)

Issy Bongiovanni, Staff writer

The men’s soccer team has officially signed six incoming Leopards for its class of 2026.

“We were focused a little bit more on positional needs. We had to be more specific and targeted with what positions we were trying to fill and also what positions we were trying to create more competition for in the fall,” head coach Dennis Bohn said. “We’re going to give them a chance to compete right away, which we always do with our first-year guys.”

Sebastian Tis was a four-year starting midfielder for Conestoga High School in Newtown Square, P.A. Tis has won a Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) state title, district title, three league titles, and has helped his team reach a 40-0 record throughout his career. Tis was named an All-American and was an All-Region selection by United Soccer Coaches, earned Pennsylvania State Player of the Year and received All-State honors by the Pennsylvania Soccer Coaches Association.

“When I went on the visit, all the coaches felt like family,” Tis said.

Nicholas Bernieri is a 5-11 striker who currently plays for Garden City High School in Garden City, N.Y. Bernieri is a three-time Region 1 player who has played for the top-10 nationally ranked South Shore FC. The IMG-rated three-star player has also traveled internationally to play in Costa Rica, England and Portugal. His father, Paul Bernieri, played for the Maroon and White from 1985 to 1988.

“Finding out if they can be pieces of the puzzle that help us be a championship team in the fall is what I’m most looking forward to from this group, at least in the short term,” Bohn said.

Bohn expressed that since the current team is already an experienced group, these recruits can add to a talented foundation.

“We’re not rebuilding a team, we’re not starting from scratch,” Bohn said. “We’re just looking for a couple pieces of a puzzle that I think can allow us to have great success.” 

Midfielder Connor DeAngelis is from Babcock Ranch, F.L., where he plays for Northwood School and Black Rock FC. DeAngelis has also played with the Oakwood Academy in the United States Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) and made it on the Bimbo All-American Watch List this past fall.

6-1 goalkeeper Eric Axtman will come to College Hill from Central Dauphin High School in Harrisburg, P.A. where he is a three-year starter, starting in a total of 71 games, recording 33 clean sheets and a career 0.83 goals against average. 

“I’m hoping that they give us more competition and more depth in every position group, including goalkeeper,” Bohn said. “We have three goalies coming back but we do believe [Axtman], our incoming freshman goalie, can help push that group and raise the level in practice as well as be prepared to play in games as necessary.”

Axtman is a three-time MidPenn Commonwealth Conference Champion in which he won the All-Conference Second Team selection in 2019 and 2020, and All-Conference First Team selection in 2021. Axtman secured a PennLive All-Star First Team selection in 2020 and 2021 and is also a two-time District 3 and one-time 4A Champion

“The coaches were great to communicate with, great at keeping in touch, making sure that all they got the most up-to-date film,” Axtman said. “It’s a great school and academics are important to me, and it being a great school was definitely a good thing. I like Easton, it’s a cool area, not too big, not too small, just right.”

Jeovany Gamez is a 5-9 outside back who currently plays for Meade High School in Hanover, M.D. Gamez is a starter for the U19 Baltimore Armour Academy in the MLS NEXT League and was apart of the team that won the 2021 Dallas Cup.

Nicholas Liebich will come to Lafayette from Boise, I.D. The 6-5 center back was a 2020 Idaho State Champion with Riverstone International School. Liebich was named First Team All-Conference, First Team All-State, 2020 Southern Idaho Conference Player of the Year, and Idaho State Player of the Year. He currently plays for The Taft School in Watertown, C.T., where he was named to the New England Soccer Journal Best XI in 2021.

This incoming class will work to fill the massive shoes left by nine graduating seniors. Seniors defender Andrew Venezia, forward Martin Ssessanga, and goalkeeper Asher Carlson stayed an extra semester to play for the team after a lost season due to Covid.

“I really just love them as people. They’re loyal, they came back for that extra year after Covid and to me that’s huge,” Bohn said “They could have all graduated with the rest of their class, they could have gone out into the working world and moved on with their life, but they sacrificed to come back here to play another season for us. I’ll always be indebted to them as far as their loyalty to the program.”

While Bohn looks to the future, he reflected on those who paved the way for these new players.

“Part of my job is not just coaching soccer, it’s about helping to mentor our players in life in general, and to see the growth and maturity that the three of them made from freshman year to now fifth-year seniors was amazing,” Bohn said. “They deserve all the credit in the world because they really sacrificed and worked hard to get better on the field, but also get better in the classroom. I’ll always remember that about that group.”