NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Lipscomb men’s soccer team has taken another step towards new heights by signing a talented group of five players for the 2017 season, announced by head coach Charles Morrow on Tuesday.
Joining the Bisons in the fall are Ryan Birchfield, Ihaia Delaney, Samir Eldahan, Simon Holden and Benjamin Locke.
Coming off its fifth straight ASUN Conference semifinal appearance, Lipscomb bolstered an already talented roster with players from three different states and two from other countries.
The new additions will join an experienced roster that features five all-conference members from a year ago.
Logan Paynter, a two-time first team All-ASUN member and the Bisons leading scorer in each of the past two seasons, is back in the fold alongside fellow first teamers Ivan Alvarado and Joe Kerridge. Alvarado is a three-time first team selection and the ASUN’s active career leader in points and assists, while Kerridge is a two-time all-conference honoree that helped Lipscomb post five shutouts last fall.
Paynter, Alvarado and Kerridge were also recognized with All-Region honors in 2016.
Lipscomb finished last season inside the Top 50 in RPI while going 10-6-2 overall and 3-2-1 in league play. The Bisons return all but five members in 2017.
Read more about each signee below, including individual thoughts from Morrow.
Ryan Birchfield | 5-9 | 155 | Midfielder | Ipswich, England | Feather River College
- Transferring to Lipscomb after spending the previous two seasons at Feather River College in Quincy, California.
- Helped lead the Golden Eagles to a 16-1-4 overall record in 2017 where they won the Golden Valley Conference Championship and earned a No. 9 national ranking.
- Elite 8 appearances in the CCCAA in 2016 and 2017.
- In 21 matches, Birchfield scored 11 goals and 29 assists. His 51 total points were the sixth most in the CCCAA.
- His 29 assists last season were the most of any player in the state of California.
- Scored two game-winning goals.
- Named a First Team All-Conference selection.
- Academic All-State and Academic All-American.
- Has two brothers – Kyle and Daniel, and one sister – Michelle.
- Also recruited by DePaul, CSU Northridge, New Hampshire, Barry University and St. Mary’s College of California among others.
- Plans to major in Health and Exercise Science.
- Favorite professional athlete is Neymar of FC Barcelona.
- His hidden talent is Table Tennis.
“Ryan brings experience and versatility to our midfield. He can play a holding or wide attacking role. We expect Ryan to come in right away and make an impact.”
Ihaia Delaney | 6-1 | 176 | Forward| Wellington, New Zealand | Tawa College | Ole Football Academy
- Finished as the top scorer in the National U19 League with 10 goals in eight games in 2016.
- In 2015, Delaney was the top goal scorer across all competitions with 38 goals in 28 contests.
- Invited to the U20 training camp for the New Zealand National Team.
- Helped his squad to a Wellington Regional U17 Championship.
- Also took home a championship in U14 and U15 in the Auckland Regional.
- Has two brothers – James and Daniel, and one sister – Kina.
- Plans to major in either Computer Sciences or Engineering.
- Also recruited by Loyola Chicago, Hartford and UNC Wilmington.
- Favorite professional sports team is Chelsea.
“Ihaia is a proven goal scorer at a very high level. He brings us a different look as a target forward and will strengthen an already potent attack.”
Samir Eldahan | 6-1 | 170 | Midfielder | Memphis, Tennessee | Bartlett HS | Lobos Rush
- Ranked the 92nd best player in the nation and the 16th best player in the state of Tennessee by MaxPreps.
- Played varsity soccer all four years in high school.
- Led Bartlett HS to a 13-4-2 record in 2016.
- Helped the Panthers to Class AAA Division I District and Region Championships.
- Named to the All-Region team in 2015 and 2016.
- Named All-District in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
- Voted as the MVP of BHS in 2016.
- Scored 18 goals as a sophomore and 15 as a junior.
- Selected to the Memphis City FC NPSL First Team.
- Has two brothers – Mohammad and Marawan, and one sister – Nermeen.
- Chose Lipscomb over Memphis, North Florida, High Point, West Alabama and Cumberland among others.
- Plans to major in Business.
- Favorite movies include: the Harry Potter series, Logan and Tarzan.
- Favorite professional athlete is Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona.
“I love Samir’s upside. He has a great frame and soft feet. I am excited to see how quickly Samir can develop in our system. It’s going to be fun to watch.”
Simon Holden | 5-9 | 150 | Defender | Houston, Texas | Klein HS | Texans SC Houston
- S. Soccer Development Academy 2013-16.
- Started 40 matches for Texans SC Houston.
- Helped lead his club team to two wins over Top 15 teams, including an upset of the defending national champions in 2016.
- Invited to multiple US National Team combines in his career.
- Subbed in as goalkeeper in a rivalry game and saved a penalty kick to secure the win for his squad.
- Has two brothers – Phillip and Rodrigo, and one sister – Brianna.
- His older brother played collegiate soccer at the University of St. Thomas and a cousin who plays soccer professionally in Bolivia.
- Chose Lipscomb over Western Illinois, UMKC, St. Bonaventure and Houston Baptist.
- Plans to major in Finance.
- Favorite television show is Prison Break.
- Favorite musical group is the Black Eyed Peas.
“Simon is a player that will fit well in our system as an outside back. He is fit and technical which will help him get involved supporting the attack. We feel Simon will add some much needed depth to our back line.”
Benjamin Locke | 6-0 | 168 | Midfielder | Cleveland, Ohio | North Carolina State | Charlotte Day Academy
- Transferring to Lipscomb in 2017 after spending the two previous seasons at North Carolina State University.
- Was named an ACC Scholar Athlete both years at NC State.
- Four-time participant in the OYSAN State Championships.
- USYS U16 national finalist.
- Three-time All-Conference performer (once in Ohio, twice in North Carolina).
- Twice named the conference Player of the Year.
- As a sophomore Locke scored 20 goals and five assists.
- Totaled 12 goals and 10 assists as a junior.
- Finished senior season with 14 goals and 11 assists.
- Named All-State and All-Region in 2014 and 2015.
- Named All-District in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
- Voted a team captain and the team MVP in 2015.
- Plans to major in Business.
- Has one brother – Zach and one sister – KC.
- Also recruited by Notre Dame, UNC Charlotte, Akron and Messiah College.
- His father was an All-American at Denison University and his sister played collegiate volleyball at Palm Beach Atlantic.
- His favorite television show is The Office.
- His favorite professional sports teams include Borussia Dortmund and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“We are excited for Ben to be joining our program. He has been a bit unlucky the past couple of years with injury, but is now healthy and he had a great spring with NC State. We expect Ben to be able to contribute immediately in the back or in the midfield.”