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Men’s soccer defender turns pro with USL signing

Hatchet file photo by Dan Rich | Photo Editor
Hatchet file photo by Dan Rich | Photo Editor

It came down to a phone call. A lifetime of hard work, countless practices and hundreds of games culminated in an invitation to an intensive, two-day tryout for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in early December. After that, all Tobi Adewole could do was wait.

And then the phone rang.

After four standout years holding down GW’s backline, the men’s soccer senior defender was offered the chance to take his skills to the next level and signed a professional contract with the Columbus Crew affiliate, a member of the United Soccer League, last week.

“[Riverhounds head coach] Dave Brandt called me a day after the trial and offered me a contract,” Adewole said. “I am excited to kick start my professional career with a great organization.”

The trial process was short, but it had been in the works for years.

Brandt, currently the winningest men’s soccer coach in NCAA Division I history, left his position helming Navy to take over for the Riverhounds last May. It was during his time as a collegiate coach that he first noticed Adewole on the pitch.

“I played against Tobi several times while he was at GW, and certainly knew who he was,” Brandt said. “That being said, it was not until he came to a trial we had here in December that I was sold on him as a player for this team and for this level.”

The club invited Adewole to try out for the team just after the end of the collegiate soccer season. After the trial, it was clear Adewole was a fit for the team, Brandt said.

“Our staff loved him, and it was not a difficult decision to offer him a spot once we saw him for those two days,” Brandt said.

Adewole, who inked a one-year deal with a club option for the 2018 season, has anchored the Colonials’ defense all four years of his GW career. He has collected numerous accolades for his play starting his freshman year, when he was named to the 2013 Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team.

“Tobi, for me, has all the traits that I value most in a center back. He is a good passer and also a rangy and courageous defender,” Brandt said. “He is very much the type of person I look for in addition to the type of player I look for.”

Adewole ended his collegiate career on a high note, leading the defense in achieving a program-record nine shutouts.

With Adewole on the field, GW led the A-10 in goals against average (0.62) and total goals conceded (12) in the 2016 season. He also earned All-Conference Second Team honors for the second time in his career.

“If you compare games from his freshman and senior years you can see the change in his maturity level in all aspects,” GW men’s soccer head coach Craig Jones said. “Physically he worked hard to get stronger, his decision making is quicker, his technique has improved, there’s more accountability in his game.”

Adewole consistently saw some of the most minutes of any Colonial, starting 61 of the 64 matches he played.

Jones said Adewole is a natural born leader and role model for the men’s soccer team.

“He’s a winner and leads by example,” Jones said. “Every session and every game he plays to win and applies himself day in and day out to improve. His on-the-field leadership just comes through, sometimes intentionally and other times unintentionally.”

After completing his final semester this spring, the economics major will join the Riverhounds full time in May, and said he looks forward to becoming part of the team.

“I look forward to earning and securing a spot on the team, meeting new guys and building bridges and also getting that professional experience,” Adewole said.

Adewole said he hopes to use his position with the Riverhounds to be a positive influence in the world.

“Soccer, to me, is more than a sport,” Adewole said. “It knows no race, size, religion, or social class, and so on. I hope to influence a lot of people in the future with the fame I’ve accumulated over the years.”

Adewole offered his GW teammates and other soccer players aspiring to play professionally some parting advice: Don’t pay attention to rankings.

“Your hard work and perseverance will go noticed eventually,” he said.

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