By MATT SCHUCKMAN
Herald-Whig Sports Editor
Mike Carpenter's first official recruiting class as head coach of the Quincy University men's soccer team faces high expectations.
And he fully believes the six high school seniors and one transfer who recently signed national letters of intent can handle it.
"I feel like this group will be able to gel with our returning players and help us compete at a high level for the next four years," Carpenter said.
It starts in the midfield where Justin Ortinau brings experience and savvy to the lineup.
Originally from St. Louis, where he played at Bishop DuBourg High School, Ortinau was a three-year starter at Regis University, an NCAA Division II school in Denver. Last fall, the Rangers went 17-2-1 and were ranked No. 1 in the nation a majority of the season.
Ortinau has eight goals and 18 assists in his career.
Meanwhile, the six high school recruits fill voids from front to back.
Up front, forward Artan Emini was an all-sectional pick last fall at Yorkville where he had 26 goals and 11 assists. He's joined by Jordan Stephens, a forwarded from Francis Howell in St. Charles, Mo. A first-team all-stater and an all-metro sectional, Stephens had 26 goals and 15 assists.
In the midfield, Michael Timmermann is an adept playmaker. A product of Franics Howell in St. Charles, Mo., had 10 goals and 13 assists for a team that scored 101 goals. He was a second-team all-state pick.
Three players in back should help solidify the defense for years to come. Two defenders -- Nathan Dreyer of Quincy Notre Dame and Xhovani Dokaj of St. Louis CBC -- were part of state championship runs as Dreyer helped the Raiders to a Class 1A title in 2011 and Dokaj anchored CBC's Class 3 title last fall.
Dokaj was the St. Louis Post-Dispatch All-Metro Player of the Year who earned all-state and all-Midwest honors.
The Hawks also added a keeper in CBC's Nathan Griffin, who was an all-state and an all-metro selection as he posted 14 shutouts and a 0.50 goals-against average.