BANNER ELK, N.C. – The Lees-McRae College men's soccer team had seven players play in either the Premier Development (PDL) or the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) this summer. These two leagues, which are widely considered two of the top amateur soccer leagues in the United States, are made up of college or academy players along with hopeful professionals and former professionals.
Thomas Deeley played in the NPSL for the Asheville City SC, while Tyler Pavlet, Nathan Watt, Taylor Gray, James Morgan, Kelvin Woods and Logan Greene all played in the PDL for a variety of teams.
"The importance of seeing these guys play in the summer is critical for their development as individual players," said Lees-McRae Head Coach Rich Wall. "Some of them are challenged in terms of breaking into the line-up consistently, others maybe are used in different positions. These challenges allow them to grow tactically, and mentally in perhaps different ways than they would develop solely with Lees-McRae. Additionally, the nine month layoff from competitive matches is also difficult, so it's nice to see we went from zero players in these leagues a year ago, to seven this season. Ultimately, I want to see this guys be successful and play to the highest level possible. The PDL and NPSL offer opportunities for additional exposure, outside of the college scene. They've all done the program proud, and have helped enhance the soccer culture within our program."
Deeley saw the most action with his respective team over the summer as the senior played in 12 games, scored four goals and tallied eight assists. The Oxford, England native was also named to the International Soccer Network NPSL Team of the Week on May 19.
"Playing in the summer was a fantastic experience for me," said Deeley. "I loved playing in front of large crowds and getting the opportunity to play with different players. I am much more prepared for the season than in previous years thanks to the experience I got in Asheville."
Fellow seniors Tyler Pavlet, Nathan Watt and James Morgan all played in nine games in the PDL over the summer months. Pavlet played for the Albuquerque Sol FC where he played in nine matches and logged 810 minutes in net. The Goodyear, Arizona native finished third in Western Conference with 49 saves, and that ranked 10th in league overall. Morgan, who was named to the All-Conference Carolinas Second Team last season, played a total of 425 minutes for the South Florida Surf. Lastly, Watt played for the West Virginia Chaos where he scored one goal and added a pair of assists. Watt was named to the PDL Team of the Week in Week 11 as well.
"This summer was a great learning experience for me," Watt said. "It was my first in the PDL and it challenged me a lot. I relished the competition, and I managed to fight my way into the starting lineup. We had some great results this summer so I hope that I can bring some of that luck back to Lees-McRae with me as we push to win the conference title!"
Junior Kelvin Woods along with sophomores Taylor Gray and Logan Greene also played over the summer in the PDL. Woods and Gray joined fellow Bobcat Nathan Watt on the West Virginia Chaos. Woods logged 20 minutes of action in two matches, while Gray participated in eight contests, logging 143 minutes and tallied a pair of assists. Greene, meanwhile, played for the Carolina Dynamo. The sophomore goalkeeper from Locust, N.C. made his club debut in the first round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Cup as a substitute and saw nine minutes of playing time.
The 2017 edition of Lees-McRae men's soccer team will open its season Aug. 31 with a neutral site non-conference contest against Rollins College. That match will be played on the campus of Wingate University and begin at 4 p.m.