When the University of Akron and UMass Lowell met in a nationally ranked match earlier this college season, great soccer and eight NPSL players were on display.
Dener Dos Santos (Jacksonville Armada U-23), Skye Harter (AFC Cleveland), Ezana Kahsay (Erie Commodores FC), and Shane Wiedt (Erie Commodores FC) all starred for Akron, while Guilherme Rodrigues De Souza (Boston City FC), Franky Martinez (TSF FC), William Sinibaldi (Seacoast United Phantoms), and Stanley Alves (Seacoast United Phantoms) led the way for the River Hawks.
The end result was a decisive 5-0 victory for the Zips.
All of the players spoke highly about their time in the NPSL. Each told a story of excellent competition, incredible development opportunities, and a chance to make that step to the next level.
Dos Santos saw great value in playing with the Armada down in the South Region’s Sunshine Conference.
“It was a good experience being coached by Pat Cannon and his staff,” Dos Santos said. “I took away a lot of positives, learned a lot from the other players as well. We even had a chance to play the pro side. I thank the coaching staff and the organization for the experience.”
Harter gained a great deal from his experience with the Royals, who just happen to be the 2016 NPSL National Champions.
“It is always nice to have a team close by with other Division I players. It is a good way to stay in shape and get workouts and games in so that we stay game-ready. It’s tough coming back in the fall not having game experience in the summer. It’s great to get practices in through the week and get touches with some great players.”
Kahsay and Wiedt also enjoyed their time in the Midwest Region’s East Conference.
“It was a great season,” Kahsay said. “We had a great opportunity to get better, get ready for this new season.”
“We played fairly well and won a lot of games,” Wiedt added. “It helped me to transition to the fall. My awareness was helped and I carried that moving forward.”
Martinez had great things to say about the NPSL after playing in the Northeast Region’s Atlantic-Blue Conference.
“Playing in the NPSL over the summer was great. I was fortunate enough to play alongside some great friends at TSF FC, which made the experience that much more enjoyable. The league was very competitive and gave me an opportunity to continue improving daily. Being able to compete day in and day out over the summer was great preparation for the fall season that was to come. Training almost daily and playing that many games against good teams is always beneficial when you’re in the process of preparing for collegiate competition. Plus, there were also a lot of college guys on other teams so you get to evaluate and compare some of the talent from other institutions.”
Martinez had plenty of options to choose from, but ultimately chose TSF FC and never looked back.
“I chose to play NPSL because TSF was a club that I grew up playing with. From coaching staff to teammates, I felt welcome. Aside from having personable relationships with most on the club, I also felt that the team had a good chance to win the league and I wanted to take on the challenge.”
As you can see, NPSL players are making an impact at every level of the game. The league has players competing in 30+ countries worldwide in addition to young talent at the country’s top collegiate programs. Simply put, it’s a great time to be involved with the NPSL.