After filling out the roster with signings from Division II the last two days, the Otters have turned to the Big South Conference and their many member schools in the region. Three of players return after being original 2020 commits, and the other three come from Gardner-Webb University. The Otters will play their first-ever match in TVA Credit Union Ballpark THIS SUNDAY at 2 PM against Appalachian FC. Tickets are now on sale for the exhibition, as well as the season at HappsNow, fans can get 15% off online for the first match by using the code OTTERS at checkout!
Sam Catherall, CB, Gardner-Webb
The first new Division I signee of the 2021 class is centerback Sam Catherall. A captain for the Runnin’ Bulldogs, Catherall brings extensive experience to the Otters backline. In his career, the Seattle Sounders Academy-product has started 40 of the 42 games he has appeared in over three seasons, leading the Bulldogs in minutes this spring. Playing as the left centerback in the Gardner-Webb back three, Catherall was named to the Big South Second Team, and was the Big South Defender of the Week in Week One after a shutout over VMI.
Dylan Dominguez, WB, Gardner-Webb
Another Bulldog to join the Otters in 2021, is wingback Dylan Dominguez. The senior has contributed on both ends of the field from the wings throughout his career. From Florida, Dominguez worked his way into the starting lineup in his career, starting 17 games in 2019, and 11 of 10 this spring. After two assists in 2019, Dominguez added another assist this year, and scored his first career goal in a 3–0 win over then-ranked Furman.
Izzy Garcia-Perez, MF, UNC-Asheville
The first 2020 commit to return in this group is attacking midfielder Izzy-Garcia-Perez. After beginning his career at Clemson, Garcia-Perez transferred to his hometown team, the UNC-Asheville Bulldogs. In his first action with the Bulldogs this spring, the sophomore started all seven games he appeared in and scored his first collegiate goal against Presbyterian on April 3rd. The midfielder played a key role in helping the Bulldogs make their first Big South Tournament since 2016 before falling to 14th-ranked and #1 seed High Point 1–0 in extra time.
Owen Zaldivar, MF/F, Gardner-Webb
The third new Bulldog to come to Johnson City this summer, Owen Zaldivar brings positional versatility, as well as the ability to create and score in the attack. After only accumulating 85 minutes as a freshman, Zaldivar returned this spring played in ten of eleven games, starting eight. As both a creative #10 and a left winger, the El Salvadorian-dual national scored three goals and added an assist and finished second on the team in shots (17) and shots on goal (8). Zaldivar was named the Big South Offensive Player of the Week in Week Five for scoring both goals in a 2–1 win over Presbyterian.
Kharrel Medza, W, Gardner-Webb
The only 2020 commit from the Runnin’ Bulldogs to return in 2021 is winger Kharrel Medza. Medza only appeared in nine games as a freshman, playing just over 250 minutes, but was able to record two goals and an assist, being the only player to score and play less than 800 minutes. Originally from Belgium, Medza returned this spring and started in all eight of his appearances, scoring a goal against USC Upstate.
Djibril Faye, W/F, Radford
The final player from this group set to wear the blue and green this summer comes from nearby Radford University. An original 2020 commit, Djibril Faye tallied two goals and an assist as a freshman, also finishing second on the team in shots (25) and shots on goal (13). The Senegalese attacker was also named the Big South Freshman of the Week in October. This spring, Faye was tasked with leading the Highlander attack, and delivered, leading the team in goals (3), points (7), shots (20), and shots on goal (8) in the shortened season.
All signings pending league and federation approval
Want to Adopt an Otter for this season? There is still time! Learn more about this program (which is not a homestay) HERE and get your family paired up with a player today! The season is upon us, but there are still plenty more announcements to come. Be sure to follow the Otters on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and here on Medium to stay up to date on all things Otters as the summer kicks off and gets going! #FearTheFur #NewYearNewOtters