Get Recruited Faster with a Player Profile on

NCAA Jun 28, 2024

Virginia men’s soccer adds 12 new Cavaliers from 5 countries to Fall 2024 roster

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Virginia’s head men’s soccer coach George Gelnovatch announced the team’s 2024 signing class, which includes 12 players in addition to five winter additions who joined the team in January.

Joining the Cavaliers in the fall are Jed Akwaboah (Short Hills, N.J.), Joaquín Brizuela (Mendoza, Argentina), Luke Burns (Scottsdale, Ariz.), Willem Ebbinge (Auckland, New Zealand), Anthony Faupel (St. Louis, Mo.), Grant Howard (Mableton, Ga.), Baka Kante (Overland Park, Kansas), Tom Miles (London, United Kingdom), Alex Parvu (Cumberland, R.I.), Spencer Sanderson (Austin, Texas), AJ Smith (Høje Taastup, Denmark), and Hayes Wood (Chattanooga, Tenn.)

“There is a lot to be excited about with this incoming class,” said Gelnovatch. “We will retain a strong core of players, but like most seasons, we needed to rebalance our squad with both experience and quality. This class features a large group of transfers who will bring years of valuable college soccer experience with them that includes the postseason. I see so much potential in this team and am excited to integrate a highly talented and experienced group of players into our squad.”

Jed Akwaboah | Defender | New York Red Bulls
Class: Freshman
Hometown: Short Hills, N.J.
Ht.: 6-1
Wt.: 170

  • Captained the U19 Cedar Stars Bergen team to the MLS Next Finals
  • Three-star prospect according to Top Drawer Soccer
  • New York Red Bulls U17 captain
  • Led his NYRB U17 team to the MLS Next playoff quarter finals
  • Led his team to the round of 16 in the Generation adidas Cup

Why UVA: “I chose Virginia because I ultimately want to play professionally, and I know coach Gelnovatch has produced many professionals while coaching at Virginia. I always want to be part of a winning environment, and on my visit, I felt Virginia was the place I wanted to be to play my best soccer and compete for national titles.”

Joaquín Brizuela | Forward | Godoy Cruz
Class: Freshman
Hometown: Mendoza, Argentina
Ht.: 6-2
Wt.: 180

  • Top scorer on the U18 Godoy Cruz team (national tournament)
  • 2018 Valesantio International Tournament Winner (Godoy Cruz)
  • Soccer Interschool Champion (ISMA)

Why UVA: “I’ve decided to come to UVA because of the interest they’ve shown in me as a player. Also, I consider this school to be the best to my career and formation. The professionalism in all areas was key to my decision making.”

Luke Burns | Midfielder | Phoenix Rising FC
Class: Freshman
Hometown: Scottsdale, Ariz.
Ht.: 6-0
Wt.: 175

  • Three-star prospect according to Top Drawer Soccer
  • Team Captain
  • MLS Next Academy Team U19
  • S. Soccer Training Invitee
  • Region IX Champion team
  • Three-time Arizona State Champion team
  • iD2 Training Center Invitee

Why UVA: “I chose the University of Virginia not only for its excellent academics and its successful soccer program, including its unbelievable history of winning national championships, but for the opportunity to join a team of supportive players and coaches who are striving for one common goal, and that is to win.”

Willem Ebbinge | Forward/Midfield | Harvard
Class:  Graduate Student
Hometown: Auckland, New Zealand
Ht.: 6-1
Wt.: 180

  • Ranked second all-time at Harvard and fourth all-time in the Ivy League with 29 career assists
  • Captained New Zealand U23 team that qualified for 2024 Summer Olympics
  • First-Team All-Ivy at Harvard
  • Third in NCAA assists per-game in 2022
  • College Sports Communicators Academic All-District
  • Represented the New Zealand U20 National Team at the 2019 FIFA U20 World Cup in Poland and the 2018 OFC U19 Championship in Tahiti

Why UVA: “I chose UVA because I want to win championships and feel there’s no better place to wrap up my college career.”

Anthony Faupel | Forward | St. Louis CITY2
Class: Freshman
Hometown: St. Louis, Mo.
Ht.: 5-8
Wt.: 150

  • Made the jump to St. Louis CITY2 after playing on the St. Louis CITY U17 academy team in 2021
  • Played for both NORCO Soccer Club and JB Marine Academy
  • Made his St. Louis CITY U-17 team in 2021

Why UVA: “I chose Virginia because of the great coaching staff and the rich history the program has when it comes to helping players excel to the next level of their career on and off the field.”

Grant Howard | Defender | Virginia Tech
Hometown: Mableton, Ga.
Class: Junior
Ht: 5-10
Wt: 179

  • Started all 16 games in 2023 as a defender at Virginia Tech
  • Logged a team-high 1,453 minutes at Virginia Tech as a freshman in 2022
  • Ranked No. 87 in Top Drawer Soccer’s Top 100 Freshman list in 2022
  • Member of the Atlanta United system for five years competing with Atlanta United 2 during the 2022 season

Why UVA: “I decided to come to UVA because of the professional culture and their strive for excellence. I believed it was a place where I could thrive both on the field and in the classroom. Overall, the staff made me feel like UVA was a place that could help me reach the next level.”

Baka Kante | Midfielder | Kansas Rush
Class: Freshman
Hometown: Overland Park, Kansas
Ht: 5-11
Wt: 150

  • Named Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year in 2024
  • Totaled 37 goals and 44 assists in his prep soccer career
  • Three-time Missouri State Champion
  • Two-time All-American
  • Two-time Missouri Class 4 Player of the Year
  • Led his team in goals in two seasons
  • Two-time team captain

Why UVA: “I chose UVA because they are a powerhouse in the sport of men’s soccer. When a school so decorated comes around, you just can’t say no to such an exciting opportunity.”

Tom Miles | Goalkeeper | Lubbock Christian (Division II)
Hometown: London, United Kingdom
Class: Graduate Student
Ht.: 6-1
Wt.: 180

  • Three-time All-Lone-Star Conference team selection
  • Ranked sixth in NCAA Division II for total saves
  • Led his team to an appearance in the round of 16 in the NCAA Division II Men’s Soccer Championship
  • Youth professional scholar at AFC Wimbledon (2016-2018)
  • Spent time at Crystal Palace and Sutton United

Why UVA: “I chose Virginia because I wanted to be a part of a program that embodies excellence and a winning mentality across its teams. I wanted to surround myself with teammates and a culture that would encourage me to be a better person, student, and player to best equip me for the next stage of life.”

Alex Parvu | Defender | NE Revolution
Hometown: Cumberland, R.I.
Class: Freshman
Ht.: 6-2
Wt.: 176

  • MLS Next Cup U19 Champions 2019
  • Made five appearances for New England Revolution II in MLS Next Pro
  • Three-star recruit according to Top Drawer Soccer

Why UVA: “The reason I chose Virginia is because of the commitment and drive. When I came on my visit to Virginia, I could see the staff and players were going above and beyond. That to me showed how well driven this program was and I wanted to be a part of it.”

Spencer Sanderson | Goalkeeper | Austin FC
Class: Freshman
Hometown: Austin, Texas
Ht.: 6-1
Wt.: 185

  • Three-star prospect according to Top Drawer Soccer
  • Ranked No. 14 goalkeeper prospect by Top Drawer Soccer
  • Austin FC Academy Captain
  • MLS Next Cup Quarterfinalist
  • Signed MLS Next Pro Academy contract with Austin FC (2023)
  • MLS Next Pro champion in 2023

Why UVA: “I chose UVA because of the great academics and the amazing soccer program. After visiting, I was immediately drawn to the school, and I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of. It’s the perfect place to grow as an individual and I can’t wait to get started!”

AJ Smith | Forward | Tyler JC/BK Fremad Amager (Denmark)
Class: Sophomore
Hometown: Høje Taastup, Denmark
Ht.: 6-4
Wt.: 189

  • Scored 18 goals with 6 assists at Tyler JC
  • First team NJCAA DivisionI All-American in 2023
  • Made seven appearances for Amager Academy and recorded three goals and one assist
  • Made three appearances for Fremad Amager first team
  • AC Amager Academy U19 Player of the Year (2021-2022)

Why UVA: “I chose to play for the University of Virginia men’s soccer team because of its strong tradition of excellence, a highly competitive program, and the opportunity to work with top-tier coaches. The university’s commitment to both athletic and academic success aligns perfectly with my personal and professional goals.”

Hayes Wood | Forward | Lipscomb
Class: Graduate Student
Hometown: Chattanooga, Tenn.
Ht.: 6-2
Wt.: 200

  • Part of a Lipscomb team that has made three consecutive trips to the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Championship
  • Appeared in 65 games while making 52 starts at Lipscomb
  • Scored 21 goals and 12 assists in four seasons with the Bisons
  • Three-time All-ASUN Selection
  • Two-Time ASUN Tournament MVP
  • Two-Time United Soccer Coaches All-Region Selection

Why UVA: “I chose Virginia because I wanted the opportunity to compete at the highest level day in and day out. The level of consistency that Virginia displays season after season is something I knew I have to be a part of.”

Featured Players

Midfielder, Forward
Forward, Midfielder
Forward, Midfielder
See Commitment List