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USA Bound: Bilderbeck and Wooldridge

Messrs Jonty Bilderbeck and Dominic Wooldridge have put pen to paper this week, with the pair signing National Letters of Intent for NCAA DI schools California State University Northridge and State University of New York at Albany respectively. Jonty and Dom have taken their chances after impressive seasons with Western Suburbs during the winter and Team Wellington Youth this passing summer, with the former also attending a recent New Zealand U20 camp.

Los Angeles, California will be Jonty’s new home, and although there are some similarities between the City of Angels and Porirua, it’s hard to imagine there will be difficulty settling in. With Santa Monica just a 40 minute drive away, the piercing summer rain of Wellington will become a distant memory come August for Mr Bilderbeck.

The CSU Northridge Matadors are coming off a fantastic 2016 season, despite losing 1-0 to Pacific at Matador Soccer Field in the First Round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament. CSUN won the Big West South Division and then captured the Big West Tournament Championship in dramatic fashion, staging a comeback that culminated in a double-over time goal. In his 18th season in charge of CSUN, Terry Davila won his sixth Big West Conference Coach of the Year award.

New York State, population: 19,795,791 (2015) Capital City: Albany
An average December temperature of 0°C, a white Christmas could be on the cards for Dom in 2017.

University at Albany, SUNY’s historic season came to a close at Clemson in 2016, playing in their first NCAA Sweet 16, #14 seed University at Albany men’s soccer program faced off against #3 seed Clemson, with the Great Danes’ program-best run coming to an abrupt end, falling 3-1 to the Tigers.

2016 was a season of firsts for UAlbany, the team won the program’s first ever America East title, and played in, hosted, and won it’s first-ever NCAA tournament game.  The regular season saw the Great Danes defeated then-#3 Syracuse, the highest ranked opponent ever beaten by a UAlbany program at home. Junior Afonso Pinheiro became the all-time program leader in career goals and points, and the all-time single season leader in points.  Senior Luke Palmateer played in more games in his career than any Great Dane in program history.  Finally, the 2016 squad ranks behind only the 2008 team in offence in program history. Following the deepest postseason run in program history, the University at Albany men’s soccer team has been ranked a program-high 17th in the final Coaches Poll of the 2016 season.

Though the end result was disappointing, the UAlbany men’s soccer program can take the results of the 2016 season and build on its successes for the future.

From everybody here at Olé Football Academy, we wish them both the best of luck!