FC Buffalo gears up for the 2012 National Premier Soccer League season by signing a handful of players. All of these players grew up in Western New York and each adds something different to an improving Blitzers squad. The group of players include local high school superstars, area college stand outs, and a couple of professional players. Jake Rinow, John Grabowski, Josh Faga, Mike Reidy, Patrick Zelko, and Andy Tiedt round out the first round of recent signings. Aaron Rygiel, Nekabari Tor, and J.J. Bilinski were invited into the team but have not been signed yet. But the greatest benefit to FC Buffalo could be the additions of professionals Kendell McFayden and Gary Boughton to the team, who were both recently on trial with the Rochester Rhinos.
Jake Rinow – Defender
Rinow grew up in Lancaster and attended Lancaster High School. A two two all-WNY selection for Lancaster High School, Rinow finished his four-year varsity career with 64 points. Rinow was also named to the second team all-state for class AA in 2008. Rinow has started all 12 games for the Cornell Big Red in the 2011 season, notching a goal and an assist.
John Grabowski – Midfielder
Grabowski is from Middleport, NY, and attended Royalton-Hartland High School in the Niagara-Orleans League of Section VI. He played with Buffalo United as a youth, before making the team with Buffalo City FC and FC Buffalo.
Grabowski appeared in 18 games (though only starting 2 of those) as a freshman in 2007 but managed to add a goal. He also played a role when the Blue Devils won the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Tournament in 2007. The 5’9″ attacking midfielder also tallied a goal and an assist starting 17 and appearing in all 18 matches for SUNY Fredonia in 2008. During his junior year, Grabowski started all 18 games adding 3 assists and scoring one game-winning goal. As a senior, the midfielder scored 4 goals (3 GWG) and tallied 4 assists. Throughout his collegiate career, Grabowski appeared in 73 games, starting 56, and registered 7 goals and 8 assists for 22 career points.
Grabowski also has experience in coaching soccer. He was on the coaching staff at Black Watch Soccer Club of the USL Super Y-League and Empire United Soccer Club of the Development Academy. During the 2011 collegiate preseason, Grabowski joined SUNY Fredonia’s Men’s Soccer staff as an assistant coach.
Josh Faga – Defender
Faga is from from Rochester, NY, and attended McQuaid Jesuit High School. , 5’11” (St Johns,)
FC Buffalo MVP Josh Faga appeared in all 11 games for Marist before a season-ending leg injury derailed his 2011 campaign.
Faga holds a handful of personal awards from his high school career which includes being a four-time All-City Catholic team honors, four-time Class AA Section V All-Tournament team, three-time All-Greater Rochester first team, two-time Class AA sectional final MVP, two-time all-state selection, the first two-time captain in McQuaid history, New York’s Gatorade Rookie of the Year as a freshman, NSCAA/adidas All-Region as a senior, and NSCAA/adidas High School Scholar All-American and Scholar All-Region as a senior
Faga was a redshirt freshman at St John’s in 2008 , due to a nagging back injury, but made 11 starts and appeared in 8 other games in 2009. He was part of the St Johns team that won the 2009 Big East Conference Tournament. Faga started all 18 games for Marist College in 2010 and 11 games in 2011.
Mike Reidy – Midfield
Reidy is from Webster, NY, and Webster Thomas High School. He finished his high school career with 152 points from 56 goals and 40 assists (school record assists). Thomas had a 60-10-12 record during Reidy’s tenure and won four league titles, three Section V Championships and three Western Regional Titles.
Reidy was twice named first-team all-state, twice the Section V tournament MVP, and three times to the First-Team All-Monroe County selection.
As a junior, Reidy was named All-Greater Rochester Co-Player of the Year and Regional All-American while part of the squad was the runner-up to the state title in 2007.
Reidy recorded 14 goals and 12 assists as a senior captain which earned him not only his team’s MVP award, but also Section V Player of the Year and All-Greater Rochester Player of the Year. While helping the Webster Thomas Titans to a 16-3-2 record in 2008, Reidy was named to the First Team All-State for Class AA and earned NSCAA High School All-American honors in his senior year.
He also played with Rochester Futbol Club, NYS West Olympic Development Program and Region 1 ODP, of which he was named team captain in 2007.
Reidy decided to attend Colgate University, where as a freshman he appeared in all 17 games and started 15. He finished the season with 7 goals (2 GW) and 1 assist for a total of 15 points, while also registering 37 shots from midfield, 20 of which were on goal. He earned Patriot League Rookie of the Week honors on September 14, en route to being named the Patriot League Rookie of the Year and earning selection to the All-League Second Team. Reidy was also named to College Soccer News’ Top 100 Incoming Freshman in 2009. Earned honorable mention in TopDrawerSoccer’s 2009 All-Rookie Team, in a nation wide consideration.
In his sophomore year, Reidy played in all 19 games and started in 12, while notching 3 goals (1 GW) and 2 assists for 8 points. Reidy played in all 22 games and started in 17 during his junior season. He ended the campaign with 2 goals (1 GW), 4 assists and 27 shots (15 SOG). His solid performance in the playoffs earned Reidy a selection on the 2011 Patriot League All-Tournament Team. He has scored 12 goals and added 11 assists in his first three years with Colgate.
Matt Stedman – Striker
Stedman attended Lockport High School before going on to Niagara University.
He ended his career for Lockport as the school’s 4th highest scorer in history with 62 goals. Stedman played four years at Niagara University from 2003 to 2006. During the summer before his senior year in 2006, Stedman began playing for the Vermont Voltage of PDL.
In 2005, Stedman was named MAAC offensive player of the year as a junior. He registered 13 goals in 19 games, in addition to 10 assists to finish the season with 39 points. This haul was good enough for 15th place in MAAC history and his 1.89 points per game earned him 6th overall. Stedman was named to the NSCAA All-North Atlantic Region Team for two straight years. He scored 26 goals for Niagara University and added 22 assists to end his collegiate career with the third-highest point total in school history at 74.
He played for Vermont Voltage of PDL in 2010, earning Team of the Week Honors in late July. He may have played for Carrick Rangers in Northern Ireland in the 2008/2009 IFA Premiership season, but I only found one unreliable source on that. Matt Stedman is currently as assistant coach under Craig Yanni on the Medaille Women’s Soccer team.
Pat Zelko – Defender (Medaille)
Sweet 16 for Medaille College in the 2011 NCAA tournament.
Played for Houston Leones of PDL in 2010, helping them to the Elite 8 of the national playoffs. Zelko also played for New Orleans Shockers of the PDL in the summer of 2008.
Zelko spent four years at Medaille College. The team was Conference champions for four straight years and went three whole seasons undefeated against conference opponents. He was named captain in 2010 and helped Medaille make school history by reaching the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. 2010 asked marked the third straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament for Zelko and Medaille.
Andy Tiedt – Striker
Akron HS’s prolific 6’2″ striker Andy Tiedt, who holds the New York state single season record with 63 goals in his senior season and ranks 9th all-time for career goals with 162 in four years, re-joins the Blitzers for the 2012 season. The natural finisher is currently second all-time to Mike Unwin in points in FC Buffalo club history.
Tiedt started his collegiate career at Binghamton University, where he played for two seasons. As a freshman, Tiedt was named to America East All-Rookie Team and scored 2 goals and 3 assists. He also earned America East Rookie of the Week (Sept. 15, 2008). Tiedt was named to the 2009 America East Conference All-Academic Team in his sophomore year. After transferring, Tiedt started 13 matches and appeared in all 18 matches for the Univerisity at Buffalo Bulls in 2010. Tiedt started all 18 games for the Bulls during the 2011 season for the Bulls, scoring 5 goals and adding 4 assists for a total of 14 points.
FC Buffalo has not signed the following three players yet, but has invited them to train and participate in the club’s preseason squad.
Aaron Rygiel – Striker.
Rygiel is from Almond, NY, and attended Alfred-Almond Central School. He played club soccer for Rochester Junior Rhinos, which was coached by former Rhino Howard Allen, and was a member of the Western New York Olympic Development Program. Rygiel holds Alfred-Almond Eagles (Section V Class DD) career record of 107 goals and 80 assists for a total of 296 points. He sits in ninth place in Section V for career goals, fourth place in Section V for career assists and seventh in the state for career assists. Rygiel holds fourth (2007) and eleventh (2008) for most assists in a single season in Section V.
Playing varsity in 8th grade, Rygiel tallied 9 goals and 10 assists. In his freshman year, he added 8 goals and 2 assists. Rygiel earned first team All-Conference, conference offensive MVP and All-Greater Rochester honors after scoring 32 goals and 24 assists en route to a section V Class DD championship in 2006. During his junior year, Rygiel racked up 29 assists and 25 goals to earn second team All-Greater Rochester and first team All-Conference. Rygiel was once again named conference offensive MVP in his senior year after scoring 33 goals and adding 15 assists. He was named first-team all-conference, All-Greater Rochester and All-State for his performances senior year.
According to the Evening Tribune of Hornell, NY, Rygiel met with coaches from the Charlotte Eagles Soccer Club in January of 2007 at the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Convention in Indiana. At the age of 15, Rygiel was nominated to join the Charlotte Eagles on a tour of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He was in Brazil participating in camps, clinics, and friendly games against local clubs all before his junior season at Alfred-Almond.
At junior college, Georgia Perimeter, in 2010 Rygiel was named second-team all-region after finishing second on the team and third in the region with 38 points. Averaging nearly 3.2 points per game, Rygiel scored 14 goals and added 10 assists in 12 games on his way to helping the Jaguars to a 14-4-1 record. In 2011, Rygiel transferred to Creighton University but did not participate in this past season. As a natural finisher, the 6’0″ striker is looking to build upon his impressive career hauls on a higher level having previously been the big fish in small ponds in high school and junior college.
Nekabari Tor – Midfield
Tor is from Rochester, NY, and attended Aquinas Institute. In 2009 he made 17 appearances for the Roberts Wesleyan College Raiders. He scored a goal and registered two assists as a freshman midfielder. He has kept himself busy by playing in the Rochester District Soccer League Premier Division in 2010
J.J. Bilinski – Goalkeeper
Bilinski attended Panama Central School. He set a Section VI record for most career shutouts during his senior year in 2003. Bilinski was named to the First Team All-League and the All-Western New York small school team several times during his four-year varsity career at Panama Central School.
After graduation, he played at Medaille College where he was named to both the all-conference and scholar all-region teams. He led Medaille to the Region 3 Division III playoffs in 2004 as a freshman. In 2007 for Medaille, the keeper only let in 11 goals in 20 games for a goals-against-average of 0.600, he also made 60 saves that season for a 0.845 save percentage and posted 8 shutouts.
Bilinski graduated in the spring of 2008, and went on to play for Queen City FC and then for Fort Wayne Fever in PDL. The keeper then unsuccessfully tried out for Cleveland City Stars and Pittsburgh Riverhounds. In 2009 he was named assistant coach for the Jamestown Community College Jayhawks. Bilinski would bring years of goalkeeping experience and a coaching mentality to FC Buffalo to help nurture rising star Jordan DiLapo.
The two big acquisitions for the team who were trying out with the Rochester Rhinos this spring are Kendell McFayden and Gary Boughton.
Midfielder Gary Boughton played in the PDL for four seasons before signing with F.C. New York in 2011. The 23 year old Buffalo native was a stand-out player during his four years at Medaille College, which included four straight conference championships, three trips to the NCAA tournament and setting the NCAA Division III career assists record at 82. Boughton made 21 league appearances for F.C. New York last year and after the season spent an extensive period training with Sporting Kansas City of MLS. Most recently, the midfielder played with the Rochester Lancers of the Major Indoor Soccer League. His professional pedigree makes Boughton a key player in the midfield for FC Buffalo.
Kendell McFayden is a graduate of Williamsville North High School and Medaille College. While at Medaille, McFayden scored 46 goals and was a three-time All-AMCC First Team All-Conference selection, an ECAC First Team All Star, an NSCAA Regional All-American, and an NSCAA All-American. The six foot tall, 23 year old striker has previously played in the PDL with Austin Aztex u23s before signing a professional contract with the Ausin Aztex of the then USSF Division 2 Pro League. He made 16 appearances and scored 8 goals for the u23 team. He went on to play in four games for the Austin Aztex as a professional and score 1 goal. The Western New York native spent 2011 playing with the Kitsap Pumas of PDL up in Washington State. He made six appearances and scored 1 goal to help the Pumas to a PDL Northwest Division Championship, Western Conference Championship and National Championship. McFayden was included in 2012 Rhinos Media Guide, but was never actually signed to the team. This allowed the striker to move to Buffalo and could be an important player with professional experience for FC Buffalo during the 2012 NPSL season.