In 1st recruiting class with SU, Nicky Adams focused on international players


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When head coach Nicky Adams arrived in Syracuse in the spring of 2019, Syracuse’s roster contained just two international players. She noticed that the team did not have any players from Ontario, Canada, even though the province is only 200 miles from the Syracuse University campus.

Adams wanted to bring a new philosophy and international players to her squad, but the recruiting process typically begins two years before a player’s first year, meaning she wouldn’t have control of a recruiting class. before the 2021 season.

She kept her promise with eight international players making Syracuse’s 2021 roster. Four first-year international players, including three from Ontario, contributed to Syracuse’s best start to the season since 2016.

When she arrived in Syracuse, Adams wanted to focus on the area where previous coaches weren’t recruiting. She saw an opportunity to bring some of the country’s best players to Canada. Ontario is home to one of Canada’s four national training centers, which prepares players for the Canadian national team – the gold medalists in women’s soccer at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.


“I was a little shocked that there weren’t more Canadians in the lineup when I got here, especially being so close to Ontario,” Adams said.

Freshmen Pauline Machtens from Germany, along with Commander Koby, Kylen Grant and Sierra Giorgio from Ontario made an immediate impact in Syracuse. Machtens and Commander started each match. Grant opened the season as a key replacement and secured starting spots in the last two SU games, including his first conference game. In back-to-back wins over Binghamton and New Hampshire earlier in the season, Machtens and Grant combined to score all three goals for Syracuse.

Casey Downey, the coach of the commander’s club, the Burlington Bayhawks, agreed with Adams’ sentiment about the lack of Canadian players in the league. During his 30 years of training in Burlington, Ont., Downey helped secure nearly 150 NCAA scholarships for his players, including sending players to Rice University, where Adams was previously l ‘head coach. But he was never able to form a relationship with Syracuse, despite being the closest Power Five conference school to the region.

“The men’s program has always recruited in this area, but Syracuse before Nicky? I was never able to make inroads, ”said Downey. “Syracuse would never play ball with me.”

According to Downey, the Syracuse men’s soccer team has always recruited in Ontario. The Ontario men’s team currently has four players. In recent years, SU has recruited players like former Bayhawks Ryan Raposo, who was selected fourth overall in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft after his career with the Orange.

Adams saw international recruiting not only as a space that Syracuse had failed to recruit in previous seasons, but where she could find more players to suit her style of play. Syracuse roster have experience for their country’s national team, which gives them valuable experience, Adams said.

“We wanted to go a little faster. We wanted to get a little more athletic, a little more spirited – but I think about the experience at the same time, and I think that’s what some of our internationals bring, ”said Adams.

Even though Machtens is a rookie, she has already played over 50 games for her German club team Bayer Leverkusen. She also secured places in the German national teams U-15, U-16 and U-18 and participated in several international competitions.

International players make up a large part of the 2021 recruiting class.

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The goal for everyone on Grant’s club team in Ottawa was to play collegially in the United States, she said. Downey agreed – his players’ goals were to play in the NCAA, not the national team or the professional leagues.

“A hockey player (in Canada), they all want to play in the NHL,” Downey said. “In football, the end goal is almost always to play in the NCAA.”

In order to recruit international talent, Adams, assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Kelly Madsen and assistant coach Brandon DeNoyer are constantly on the road trying to bond with international club coaches. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, coaching staff often had to resort to Zoom calls but visited players in person when they could.

Madsen was able to attend the commander’s training in Burlington and spoke with her club’s coaches after watching her play. After Madsen’s visit, the League coaching staff invited the commanding officer to an identification camp, a chance for college coaches to see high school players up close. In Grant’s recruiting process, Madsen spotted her at an ID camp in Canada and then invited her to another ID camp in Syracuse.

During weeks of communication, Machtens, Commander and Grant all said Adams sold them building a new brand of football in Syracuse. And this season, they helped her create that different style, leading SU to her best start since 2016.

“We are stepping into a new era with Nicky as the new head coach, and she seemed so excited for this new class. And she was just very confident in this class, ”the commanding officer said. “It made me want to be a part of it. “

Contact Connor: [email protected]

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