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College soccer: Charlotte 49ers welcome strong freshman class

Conference USA men’s soccer champion Charlotte 49ers strengthened their roster with the top recruiting class in the conference, according to College Soccer News.

Charlotte, which came in 15th overall in the soccer recruiting services’ rankings, is welcoming 11 incoming freshmen to a roster than returns 16. The recruiting class includes players from four states and three countries.

The marquee player of the class, according to College Soccer News, is Fuquay-Varina native Dean Rutherford, the 35th-ranked recruit in the nation. The midfielder earned All-American, first-team all-state, all-region and all-conference honors last year and was invited to the U-17 National Team Residency Program in 2011.

“Dean comes to us with a fantastic goal-scoring record from his previous teams,” Charlotte coach Kevin Langan said. “He is a player who comes to life in the opponent’s box and is a very accomplished finisher.”

College Soccer News also lists defender Malcolm Stewart and forwards Harrison Steadman and Zhuvonte Wilson (Ardrey Kell) in its top 150 recruits.

The website said all four have star potential and “this bunch could emerge as a class that proves to be the catalyst for another Charlotte run to the Final Four down the line.”

In 2011, the 49ers lost to North Carolina 1-0 in the College Cup championship game.

“We are excited to welcome our 2014 class to Charlotte,” Langan said. “This group will strengthen the program in every position. These young men have all had wonderful youth careers, and we are looking forward to watching them take the step up to college soccer.”

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