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NCAA Aug 12, 2021

Loyola Maryland men’s soccer announces 10 new recruits

BALTIMORE, Md. – Loyola University Maryland’s men’s soccer program welcomed the addition of 10 newcomers at today’s first official practice in preparation for the 2021 fall season.

The group consists of four upperclassmen additions – Marco BlaTony SaldanaDaniel Tshiani and Beneyam Yifru – and six members of the freshmen Class of 2025 in Alex BoboceaKyle DenglerSean GrahamJose JoyaJordy Luchies and Jake Mayer.

“I think this is one of the best classes we’ve had since I’ve been here,” head coach Steve Nichols said. “It’s very talented, and it addresses a lot of our needs. We have a proven history of recruiting great soccer players, with recent classes producing All-American, Hermann Trophy Watch List and MLS Draft-type talent. This group has that kind of ability, and we also think they have the intangibles and drive needed to help our program take the next step and return to the NCAA tournament.”

More information about each of the 10 new Greyhounds is available below.

Marco Bla


Nichols on Bla: “Marco is a late addition to our roster. He came up with the Philadelphia Union Academy, which is one of the best in the country. He’s a very talented, athletic player who should be an immediate contributor in the midfield.”

Before Loyola: Began his collegiate career at Old Dominion, starting all eight games for the Monarchs during the 2021 spring season … played over 90 minutes during ODU’s 1-1 draw with eventual Division I champions Marshall … named to the Conference USA Honor Roll after the season … was invited to the USA U-16 National Camp in 2016 … played club soccer for Philadelphia Union Academy and Philadelphia Lone Star FC USL2 … served as team captain for his high school team.

Personal: Is the son of Ruth White … has three siblings, Boris, Faith and Joshua.

Alex Bobocea


Nichols on Bobocea: “Alex is a goalkeeper from the famous New York Red Bulls youth organization. He trained with the Red Bulls first team for two years and played for both their USL and academy teams. He’s one of the more-talented incoming goalkeepers in the country, and we expect him to do big things for us.”

Before Loyola: Longtime member of the New York Red Bulls Academy … made three appearances, including two starts, with New York Red Bulls II in the USL Championship League in 2020 … logged a total of 253 minutes in the USL.

Personal: Is the son of Maria and Neil … has one sibling, Colin.

Kyle Dengler


Nichols on Dengler: “Kyle is considered by many as one of the best incoming center backs in the country. He unfortunately might be limited early on by an offseason injury, but he’s extremely talented and will be an immediate candidate to start for us once he’s healthy.”

Before Loyola: Played club soccer for Baltimore Armour, starting every game after joining the program in 2018 … was a two-year letterwinner in high school, helping team earn its first state championship in 2017 … honorable mention All-State performer as a sophomore.

Personal: Is the son of Scott and Dana Dengler … has two siblings, Scott and Jake.

Sean Graham

Defender Midfielder

Nichols on Graham: “Sean is an addition from Northern Ireland, where he played for their U-21 International team and also had a stint with Blackpool in England. He’s played in a lot of big moments, including Youth World Cups and International qualifiers. He’s a very talented player who we’re expecting to compete for time at left back.”

Before Loyola: Was signed to Blackpool FC’s Youth Academy as a 16-year old after previous stints with Crusaders FC, Tyrone County and Dungannon Swifts in his home country of Northern Ireland … represented Northern Ireland on the international stage at various levels up to the U-21 ranks … made 10 appearances for Larne FC in Northern Ireland while on loan from Blackpool … also played Gaelic football for his school.

Personal: Is the son of Robert and Shauna Graham … has three siblings, Kerrie, Matt and Claire.

Jose Joya


Nichols on Joya: “Jose is another local addition for us who had a lot of success at the club level. He’ll add depth for us on the backline, he’s one of those guys that can fill in anywhere. He’s a hard worker with strong character who will bring a great presence to the locker room.”

Before Loyola: Played club soccer for Baltimore Armour for three seasons … two-year letterwinner in soccer at Paint Branch … honored as the school’s Panther of the Year and was soccer team’s MVP as a sophomore … lettered in volleyball, wrestling and swimming during his final two years at Paint Branch … repeated as Panther of the Year as a junior and was named volleyball team MVP that fall.

Personal: Is the son of Jose Sr. and Liliana … has three siblings, Jocelyn, Osiry and Natali.

Nichols on Luchies: “Jordy is another strong international addition for us. He trained with the first division team at FC Emmen, which competed in the Eredivisie against Ajax and other top clubs. He’s a big-time center back, we worked very hard to get him and he’ll make an immediate push to start for us.”

Before Loyola: Long-time standout member of the youth academy at FC Emmen in the Netherlands … served as captain of the club’s U-23 team … trained on several occasions with the first team, which played in the Eredivisie from 2018-21.

Jake Mayer


Nichols on Mayer: “Jake is a big, strong kid who was kind of a steal for us. He won a couple of national championships at the club level and is going to push our returners for playing time right away. He’s very talented and we expect him to be a big-time player at the collegiate level.”

Before Loyola: Played club soccer for Baltimore Armour … served as team captain and totaled five goals and six assists in his final year with the program … contributed to a national championship youth soccer squad.

Personal: Is the son of Greg and Stacy … has two siblings, Reese and Bryant.

Tony Saldana


Nichols on Saldana: “Tony was the Player of the Year in Georgia during his high school career, and he’s also had some experience in the USL. He’s probably going to be a holding midfielder for us. He’s an animal, he’s a ball-winner, and his style of play is really going to help us in Patriot League play.”

Before Loyola: Spent the 2019 season at Carson-Newman, a Division II institution in Jefferson City, Tennessee … earned starts in 11 of 15 appearances for an Eagles squad which won 10 games on the year, ranking third on the team with three assists … honored as 2019 co-State Player of the Year by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as a senior in high school after leading Dalton to a 23-0 record and a 6A championship … totaled 11 goals and 13 assists that season … was also named the 2019 Daily Citizen-News Boys Soccer Player of the Year … high school team finished as region champions in each of his four seasons … played club soccer for Chattanooga Red Wolves in USL League One.

Personal: Is the son of Lucila and Israel … has three siblings, Hernan, Cristian and Davis.

Daniel Tshiani


Nichols on Tshiani: “Daniel has experience both overseas and at the community college level. He was able to practice with the team last spring and was one of the most-talented guys on the field. He’s left-footed, very smooth on the ball, beats people on the dribble and is going to be a big offensive threat.”

Before Loyola: Attended Community College at Montgomery College in Maryland … ranked second on the team with 35 points (13 G, 9 A) during the 2018 season, helping team finish 21-3 and advance to the NJCAA Region XX Division I final … played for Germantown City FC in the UPSL in 2020, earning UPSL National Player of the Week honors in September … played at SV Zulte Waregum’s academy while attending high school in Belgium.

Personal: Is the son of Marylou … has two siblings, Joel and Patrick … graduated with honors from Montgomery College … Honors Scholar Award recipient … Dean’s List student … member of Phi Theta Kappa.

Beneyam Yifru


Nichols on Yifru: “Beneyam is a transfer from Gardner-Webb who is originally from Colorado. He will add depth to both the midfield and front line, but we expect him to play mostly in the midfield. He’s a hard worker who has a bright future for us.”

Before Loyola: Played club soccer for Rocky Mountain Cougars, Colorado Rapids Select and Real Colorado Academy … led the Cougars in goals and assists, and led Rapids Select squad in assists … honored as an All-State performer following a senior season at Overland in which he led the league in goals (23), assists (9) and points … chosen as Team MVP and conference Player of the Year as a senior … combined for eight goals and six assists in his first two high school seasons … lettered in cross country and track & field as a freshman … ranked among the top five cross country runners in Colorado, with a top 5K time of 16:56.

Personal: Is the son of Wondwosen Yemarieh and Almaz Bakalo … has one sibling, Tumim … honor roll student … served as National Honor Society co-president and Pre-Med vice president.