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Men’s soccer seniors are gearing up for their last season

Photo by Julian Pineda | The Signal

The Georgia State men’s soccer team has eight seniors on this years team. These eight players have had tons of success during their time here at Georgia State, and they’ve accomplished some good things during their time at Georgia State. This group has won 38 games and counting on top of making it to two straight Sun Belt conference championship matches. The group is determined to end this season on a different note than the previous seasons when they lost in the Sun Belt championship match.

Leading this year’s charge is Rashid Alarape. Alarape has been on an absolute tear this season, leading the team in goals with six, which puts his career total at 15.

“I feel like since this is my senior season, i’ve just put more focus into everything, all aspects of my life, just taking better care of my body and just being more involved with the team,” Alarape said.

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Alarpe has had a pretty good career at Georgia State. As a freshman, Alarape was named All-Sun Belt Conference first team. He also won College Sports Madness Sun Belt Freshman of the year.

“Georgia State has definitely grown since i’ve been here as a freshman, soccer wise, I had a really good freshman year,” he said. “My sophomore and junior year weren’t the best but now I’m getting back on the right foot and getting back to who I know that I can be and being the best player that I can be.”

Alarape is a native of Stone Mountain, GA and is excited that he has been able to see Georgia State grow. He is especially grateful that he was able to be a part of the university’s growth.

The Panthers have several international players on the roster and a few of them are seniors.

One of those international seniors is goalkeeper Yannic Horn. Horn is a native of Gross-Zimmern, Germany.

“So far it’s been a tremendous experience for me, the decision to come over here to pursue soccer and education has been the best decision of my life,” Horn said.

When Horn was 20-years-old, he was playing in Germany and tore his ACL. Knowing that he had to be realistic with himself, he packed up his bags and moved to America. He played at Montevallo before transferring to Georgia State.

Horn looks at the injury in a positive light.

“Everything happens for a reason. Without that injury, I would not be here standing here talking to (you) right now,” Horn said.

Horn has only been at Georgia State for two years and has been nothing nothing but a successful addition to the Panthers. During his first year year with the Panthers, Horn recorded 71 saves, which ranks him ninth in program history. Horn was also named to the All-Sun Belt first team last season.

Luke Oesterle is a senior goalkeeper for the Panthers. He has seen some action in many important games for the Panthers over his career. He was the starter for the Panthers in their first Sun Belt Conference championship match. He was a big part in them making it to the championship match because he had two saves in the shootout, helping preserve the win for the Panthers.

“My favorite moment in my time at Georgia State has to be the penalty shootout victory against Georgia Southern in the Sun Belt semi-finals two years ago, “ Oesterle said.

His record that season was 3-2-1 and he saved 17 shots for a 5.86 saves percentage.

“I’m happy that I was given the chance to play soccer at the division one level,” Oesterle said. “Although I didn’t play as many games as I hoped, I still was able to be around the sport I love, which was great.”

Jad Elkhalil has been a productive member for the Panthers throughout his career. Elkhalil played in 38 career games during his first three years. While that total would have been higher, he was injured during his junior year and had to miss out on most of the season due to the injury.

My time at Georgia State has been very important to my growth in becoming the person I want to be in my life,” Elkhalil said.

Elkhalil gets it done in the classroom as well as on the field. He has been named on the Dean’s list five times, the Commissioner’s list and the Dean’s honor roll. Elkhalil was also a semi-finalist for the 2017 Arthur Ashe, Jr. Sports Scholar Award.

“It’s all about time management. I’ve had to make a lot of sacrifices to study and play simultaneously but in the end, I know they will have been worth it,” Elkhalil said.

Nenad Smiljanic is a redshirt senior from Barnsley, England. Smiljanic has battled injuries during his time at Georgia State. He was forced to miss five games during the 2015 season due to injury, but he was still productive that season scoring three goals with two assists. He missed the 2016 season due to a pre-season and decided to use that season as a redshirt year.

Before transferring to Georgia State, Smiljanic played at the University of District Columbia. Smiljanic scored a total of 13 goals during his time at the District of Columbia. He also played professionally for Manchester United FC and Barnsley FC over in England.

“My favorite moment from my career was playing in tournaments abroad against the best European teams in the world, for Manchester United,” Smiljanic said.

Georgia State also has three other seniors, Nick Hague, Andrew Thompson, and Solomon Lorezano.

Hague was named the 2016 Sun Belt Newcomer of the year. He scored one goal that season, and helped the team to seven shutouts that season.

One thing that was common among the seniors regarding their favorite moments has unanimously been the win over then ranked No. 2 Wake Forest.

“They were a highly ranked team, we played them before in my career and we lost (5-0),” Alarape said. “So to be able to beat them when they were No.2 in the country was real exciting.”

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