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Penn State’s local ties run deep, but several other men’s NCAA Tournament teams also have local players

A dozen players from the area fill the Nittany Lions roster



If you’re looking for local players competing in this year’s 36-team Division 1 men’s soccer NCAA Tournament, look no further than the squad head coach Jeff Cook has put together in the Happy Valley.

Cook, who himself has ties to the area as a former Union Academy and Bethlehem Steel coach, has found fertile ground recruiting from the academy. He currently has five former Union Academy players on the team in Kris Shakes, Seth Kuhn (Wyomissing, Pa.), Tyger Evans (Harrisburg, Pa.), Daniel Bloyou (Philadelphia, Pa.) and Femi Awodesu (Philadelphia, Pa.).

Other local players Mason Deeds (Topton, Pa.), fifth-year senior Pierre Reedy (Kutztown, Pa.), Alex Morgret (Hummelstown, Pa.), Kyle May (Lebanon, Pa.), Jose Palomeque (Upper Dublin, Pa.), Dax Hoffman (Harrisburg, Pa.) and Owen Elliott (Philadelphia, Pa.). Brandon Hackenberg is from Virginia but he’s one of several players on the team with experience playing for Reading United.

Penn State finished the season 8-1-2 and earned an at-large bid into the field of 36 after falling to Indiana on penalties in the Big 10 Championship. It’s their first back-to-back tournament bids since 2013-2014. The Nittany Lions will play UMass on Sunday afternoon in Greensboro, N.C. All of the men’s and women’s tournament games are being played in North Carolina.

Stanford is the only other team that has more than two players connected to the area.

Air Force

Head coach Doug Hill, who is in his 14th season as head coach, is a Fleetwood, Pa. native.

Rookie midfielder Brandon Cobb is a native of Galloway, N.J. but has not featured this season.


First-year defender Nevin Baer, from Glenside, Pa. (Abington / Lehigh Valley United), has logged 34 minutes in 3 appearances.

Former Philadelphia Union Academy defender Will Giannakouros has logged 374 minutes in six games and two starts.


Redshirt-freshman midfielder Josiah Ramirez, from Harrisburg, Pa. (Lower Dauphin / Penn FC) has recorded an assist in two appearances.


Rookie goalkeeper Trevor Manion (Episcopal Academy / Penn Fusion Academy) recently made his collegiate debut off the bench with a 24-minute appearance.


Senior defender Brandon Golden, a Philadelphia Union Academy and YSC Academy alum, has an assist in eight starts.

Rookie goalkeeper Alex Dolce, from Chadds Ford, Pa. (Unionville / Delaware FC) has not featured.


Senior defender Chris Le, from York, Pa. (Dallastown Area / PA Classics), has one start and five appearances for the defending national champions.

High Point

Sophomore forward and Philadelphia Union Academy and YSC Academy grad MD Myers, from Delran, N.J., is second in the nation in goals with 14. He’s added four assists in 13 games.

Junior defender Josh Dubost, from Collegeville, Pa. (Methacton / FC Delco), has a goal and two assists in 13 games.


Junior defender Nyk Sessock, a Philadelphia Union Academy and YSC Academy grad from Philadelphia, has recorded an assist in eight games for the third-seeded Hoosiers.

James Madison

Former Philadelphia Union defender Ian Graham, from Columbia, Pa., has played one game in his rookie season.


Arman Estep, a rookie midfielder who previously played with Delaware FC and Penn Fusion and attended Salesianum for a year, has not featured this season.


Redshirt-junior forward Alex Hajj (YSC Acaademy / FC Delco) has a goal in eight games.

Junior forward Ryan Keenan, from Bethlehem, Pa. (Northamption Are / PDA / Lehigh Valley United), has not played this season.

University of New Hampshire

Rookie midfielder Drew Blackwell, from Wilmington, Del. (Salesianum / Penn Fusion Academy) has an assist in seven games and three starts this season.

Sophomore defender Michael Clow, from Leola, Pa. (PA Classics) has made three appearances.

Penn State

Sophomore goalkeeper Kris Shakes (YSC Academy / Philadelphia Union Academy), has three clean sheets in nine starts and a 0.85 goals against average.

Redshirt-freshman goalkeeper Owen Elliott, from Philadelphia, Pa. (Springside Chestnut Academy / SJEB FC), has made three appearances and started twice this season.

Junior forward Daniel Bloyou, from Philadelphia, Pa. (YSC Academy / Philadelphia Union Academy), leads the team in goals with seven and has a pair of assists in 11 games.

Redshirt-senior midfielder Pierre Reedy, from Kutztown, Pa. (Kutztown Area / Red Bulls Academy / Lehigh Valley United), has five goals and three assists in 11 matches.

Junior midfielder Seth Kuhn, from Wyomissing, Pa. (YSC Academy / Philadelphia Union Academy), has a goal and four assists in 11 matches.

Rookie defender Tyger Evans, from Harrisburg, Pa. (YSC Academy / Philadelphia Union Academy) has a goal and two assists in 10 games.

Senior defender Dax Hoffman, from Harrisburg, Pa. (Central Dauphin / LDC United), has seven appearances this season.

Rookie defender Femi Awodesu, from Philadelphia, Pa. (YSC Academy / Philadelphia Union Academy), has 11 appearances this season.

Sophomore midfielder Kyle May, from Lebanon, Pa. (Cedar Crest / PA Classics), has nine appearances and seven starts this season.

Senior forward Jose Palomeque, from Upper Dublin, Pa., (Upper Dublin / Montgomery United) has made four appearances this season.

Redshirt-senior defender Mason Deeds, from Topton, Pa. (Brandywine Heights / Red Bulls Academy), has not played this season.

Junior goalkeeper Alex Morgret, from Hummelstown, Pa. (Hershey / LDC United), has not played this season.


Rookie defender Lucas Matuszewski, from York, Pa. (Dallastown / PA Classics), has not played this season.

Rookie midfielder Nathan Stricker, from Sinking Spring, Pa. (Wilson / PA Classics), has not played this season.


Junior defender Andrew Aprahamian, a Philadelphia Union Academy and Malvern Prep grad from Malvern, has an assist in 12 games this season

Junior midfielder Ryan Ludwick from York, Pa. (York Suburban / PA Classics) has a goal and an assist in 13 games.

Rookie midfielder Aiden Weaver from Elizabethtown, Pa. (Elizabethtown Area / PA Classics) has seven appearances

Virginia Tech

Sophomore midfielder Nick Blacklock, from Hellertown, Pa., (YSC Academy / Philadelphia Union Academy) has a pair of goals in nine starts.

Sophomore goalkeeper Matt Zambetti, from Mechanicsburg, Pa. (Cumberland Valley / HMMS Eagle FC) has two clean sheets in eight starts.

Matthew Ralph is the managing editor of Philadelphia Soccer Now / Brotherly Game. He's covered soccer at all levels for many years in the Philadelphia region and has also written for, NPSL, PrepSoccer and other publications. He lives with his wife and two young children in Broomall, Pa., but grew up in South Jersey and is originally from Kansas.

Copyright © 2024 Philadelphia Soccer Now and Brotherly Game

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