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NCAA Jul 13, 2021

Saint Joseph’s men’s soccer inks nine newcomers ahead of fall season

PHILADELPHIA – Saint Joseph’s men’s soccer head coach Don D’Ambra has announced the addition of nine newcomers in time for the fall season.

New to Hawk Hill are a pair of tri-state standouts in defender Brandon Barrett (Mechanicville, N.Y./NY Elite FC) and goalkeeper Christian Matson (Pennington, N.J./Real Central NJ), as well as seven international additions: midfielder Truls Brændvang (Oslo, Norway/Oppsal IF), midfielder Simon Chrétien (Christchurch, New Zealand/Canterbury United FC), forward Blake Driehuis (Alexandra, New Zealand/Wellington Phoenix Football Academy), goalkeeper Lars Haavie (Sandefjord, Norway/Fram Larvik), defender Tevin Lessey (Morvant, Trinidad & Tobago/Charlotte Eagles), midfielder/forward Matias Mancini (Cesena, Italy/AC Cesena), and midfielder Omry Perel (Ramat Gan, Israel/Shimshon Tel Aviv).

The nine newcomers bring a mix of true-freshman spark and veteran experience. Arriving on Hawk Hill right out of high school as D’Ambra’s Class of 2025 are Barrett (Shenendehowa), Brændvang (Valle Hovin VGS), Driehuis (Scots College), Haavie (Sandefjord Videregaende), and Matson (Shattuck-St. Mary’s). Chrétien (East Tennessee State University (Tenn.)) and Lessey (Anderson University (S.C.)) join as NCAA transfers while Mancini (University of Bologna ’21 in Italy) and Perel (Academic College at Wingate ’20 in Israel) enter the SJU men’s soccer program as graduate additions.

For a complete player-by-player rundown, please see below.

Brandon Barrett


• Captained nationally-ranked squad to sectional title and undefeated 13-0-2 record as a senior
• Led SHS to 2019 New York State Final Four
• Won two divisional championships and one regional championship
• Two-time All-Division AA Suburban Council and two-time All-Region First Team selection
• Shenendehowa Rookie of the Year

Coach D’Ambra on Barrett: “Brandon will compete right away because of his athleticism, work ethic, and positive attitude. He is primarily a defender but has versatility to his game and will be capable of playing multiple positions for us. He is an extremely well-rounded person and is very active in community service, which is important to me.”


• Competes with the Oppsal IF U-19 Team and Senior First Team
• Was brought up to the training squad with the First Team in the Men’s 3rd Division
• Proved to be an integral piece for the U-19s in the U-19 Premier League in Fall 2020

Coach D’Ambra on Brændvang: “Truls is an exciting player with a ton of potential. He is a versatile midfielder who can play a couple different positions. He has good technical ability, makes intelligent decisions, and has very good passing efficiency. Truls will bring excellent depth to our midfield.”

• Transfer from D-I East Tennessee State University (2019), where he started in the midfield
• Also started for D-II Quincy University (2017, 2018)
• Plays semi-professionally in New Zealand
• Captain of semi-professional Canterbury United FC’s U-20 Team, playing for the New Zealand Premiership
• Club Youth Team Player of the Year in 2016 in New Zealand’s National Youth Premiership
• Trained with New Zealand’s U-17 Men’s Training Squad in 2014 at just 15 years of age

Coach D’Ambra on Chrétien: “Simon is an excellent midfielder with a high IQ of the game and excellent field awareness. He brings good college experience and has excellent leadership qualities that will carry onto the field. Simon’s biggest asset will be his reliability and consistency on the field.”


• Currently plays for Waterside Karori AFC
• Played for the Wellington Phoenix reserves of the NZ Premiership First Tier• Lit up the news for his performance in Wellington Phoenix reserves’ national league match against Hawke’s Bay in 2019
• In that match, scored three goals in five minutes: once in the 88th minute and twice in stoppage time

Coach D’Ambra on Driehuis: “We are excited about the potential of Blake. He is a hard worker and natural forward who has been in a quality professional youth system for many years.  He has excellent forward instincts and is capable of creating in the attacking third.”

Lars Haavie


• Played for Fram Larvik in the 2nd Division (3rd Tier) after playing half a year at Halsen (4th Tier)
• Helped squad reach 2019 Norwegian Cup quarterfinals
• Was part of National Team School from 2015-17
• Appeared in 40 matches for Runar in the 5th Tier and made his Senior Team Debut at age 15

Coach D’Ambra on Haavie: “Lars is a high-level goalkeeper who has all the skills to be a top keeper in our conference. Lars does everything well and will bring good quality and excellent competition to the goalkeeper position. I am excited about his potential.”


• Captains the Charlotte Eagles of the USL 2
• All-South Atlantic Conference selection for D-II Anderson University (2019, 2020)
• All-Western Junior College Athletic Conference selection for junior college Western Texas College (2017, 2018)
• Led Corpus Christi FC to second-place finish in the Mid-South Division of the USL 2 League in 2019
• Member of Trinidad and Tobago National U-21 pool in 2019 and U-15 pool in his youth
• Trained with North East Stars FC and AC Port of Spain

Coach D’Ambra on Lessey: “Tevin is a tenacious defender who plays very physically and has a lot of experience and quality to his game. One of the things that stands out the most is that Tevin has excellent leadership qualities and will help be a positive presence on and off the field.”

Matias Mancini

Forward Midfielder

• Moved up to the 3rd Division with Rimini Calcio and AZ Picerno from 2019-20
• Played in the 4th Division with Ribelle Calcio, Matelica Calcio, Santarcangelo Calcio, and Matelica Calcio from 2016-19
• Joined Santarcangelo Calcio from 2015-16
• Began his youth soccer career with A.C. Cesana from 2008-15
• Earned bachelor’s degree in economics and business from the University of Bologna ’21

Coach D’Ambra on Mancini: “Matias is an excellent two-way player who has a good defensive work rate, but he is primarily an offensive-minded player. He is capable of making plays on the ball but also with his movement off the ball and brings very high-level experience. I feel he will be an exciting player for us.”

Christian Matson


• Starting GK for U-19 Academy club, GK for U-23 Reserve Pro Side in Valencian League
• Current GK for Shattuck St. Mary’s U-19 squad in new MLS League
• Current GK for USL 2 First Team, Real Central NJ
• Starting GK for Cedar Stars Monmouth U-19s and Continental FC Delco U-19s and U-17s
• GK for the Players Development Academy U-14s
• Trained with and played on 2001 ODP team
• Competed in tours against select Argentinian, English, and Scottish Clubs

Coach D’Ambra on Matson: “Christian is a very talented goalkeeper who brings very good shot-stopping ability and excellent leadership qualities. Christian has a good attitude and works very hard, and I look forward to seeing him develop over the next four years.”

Omry Perel


• Played with Shimson Tel Aviv of the Israeli 4th League in Tel Aviv, Israel from 2020 through the present
• Advanced to Or Yehuda of the Israeli 3rd League in Or Yehuda, Israel from 2019-20
• Starred for Macclesfield Town FC of the National League 5th Division in Manchester, England in 2017
• Represented his country on the U-15 through U-19 Israeli National Teams across Europe from 2007-12
• Started out with the Maccabi Tel Aviv Youth Team in Tel Aviv, Israel from 2007-12
• Graduate of the Academic College at Wingate with a bachelor’s of education degree in physical education and sport sciences

Coach D’Ambra on Perel: “I am really excited about Omry coming to our program. He is very mature, experienced, humble, and eager to make a positive impact at SJU. He will be a key attacking player for us this fall and is capable of making an immediate impact within the A-10.”

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