Clemson men's soccer coach Mike Noonan has announced the signing of seven student-athletes to national letters-of-intent to join the Tiger program this fall.
The list of signees include: Austin Burnikel, Matt Churitch, Justin Shear, Ryan Sullivan, Mauriq Hill, Alexandre Rome’o Happi and Thales De Mello Moreno.
“This is an outstanding class without question,” said Noonan. “These signees will add significant talent and depth to our roster. My staff and I are just as excited about the character of these young men as we are about their soccer talent.”
“All of our signees are successful academically as well as athletically. They will continue to add to the excellent tradition of student-athletes at Clemson University and should make significant contributions to our team and campus.”
Austin Burnikel, a striker from Greer, SC plays for the Carolina Elite Soccer Academy in Greenville, SC coached by Russell Shelley. Burnikel has captained the team to four successive State Championships (2007-11) and has been a member of the State and Regional Olympic Development Program program since 2007. In 2011 his CESA 94 team were champions of Region III and participated in the USYSA National Tournament. Burnikel also was a four-year starter at St. Joseph’s High School in Greenville. He was named all State and Region in 2011 and captured the 1A State Championship last spring.
Matt Churitch, a native of Brentwood, TN, plays goalkeeper for Coach Bryan Johnson of the Tennessee Soccer Club. Churitch, has helped his club team to six state championships and has not allowed a goal in the State tournament from 2010-12. In 2010 his club team advanced to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Soccer Regional Tournament. Churitch played for Brentwood High School and his high school team won the state championship in 2012 and was ranked seventh nationally (ESPN) and #4 (coaches Poll).
Alex Happi is a native of Cameroon and played for their national team until the age of 12. After a move to France, he was named All-Tournament team in the French National Tournament in 2008-2009 and 2010-2011. Happi is the starting center midfielder for the National Champion and #1 ranked Montverde Academy Eagles (Orlando, Fl.) coached by former Tiger All-American and assistant coach Mike Potempa.
A central defender from Hamilton Parish, Bermuda, Mariq Hill also played for the #1 ranked Montverde Academy Eagles who just completed their national championship-winning season for the 2012-2013 winter season. Hill participated in the Dallas Cup as the captain of the Cedar Bridge Academy team. He was the MVP for the Devonshire Cougars while playing in Bermuda, as well as being a starter for the Bermudian under-17 National Team from the age of 14. He led the Montverde defense this year that conceded only four goals in 26 matches while scoring 127.
Thales Moreno, an attacking midfielder, is the third Tiger commitment from Montverde Academy. Currently, Montverde boasts the nations best winning streak of 80 games spanning three years. Moreno, originally from Brazil, grew up playing futsal as a young child. He was a star on the Paraiso Futsal team as well as playing for Palmeiras as a youth at an early age. Thales was named to the All-Tournament team at the prestigious 2013 MAST Tournament and was a catalyst to Montverde’s attack, amassing close to 20 goals and over 20 assists in the 2012-2013 National Championship winter season.
Justen Shear is a forward from Charlotte, NC. He currently plays for Head Coach Richard Butler on the Charlotte Soccer Academy U-17/18 in the USSF Development Academy. Justen helped lead his team to the USYS Region III Premier League Championship and to the Southern Regional Championship. His club team has been ranked as high as number four in the nation. Justen attends Charlotte Catholic High School
A Prospect, KY native, Ryan Sullivan is a midfielder who plays for United FC and Head Coach Braco Jusufovic. He helped his club team win four state championships during his tenure. Sullivan also attends St. Xavier High School in Louisville, KY and led them to back- to- back State Championships in 2011& 12. He has been named an academic All-American as well as a member of the National Honor Society. St. Xavier also finished second in the country in the final national poll in 2012.