After winning the USL2 National Championship in August, most of the team had to hit the books and return to their respective college campuses, while others pursued their professional careers. Before we look forward to what 2024 has in store for the club, it’s time to have a look at how the guys did this fall. Let’s start with the pros.
Danny Robles, Lars Helleren, and Alex Mejia all signed professional contracts during or after the 2023 Ballard FC season. Ballard FC, like the rest of USL2, prides itself on being the marquee “Path to Pro” for players in this country looking to advance their playing careers.
After scoring seven goals in only five appearances, Mejia signed for first-division Honduran club Real España. Mejia would go on to make 4 appearances in his first professional season and help the club finish in seventh place in the table.
After an incredible 2023 Ballard FC season that included three playoff clean sheets, Lars Helleren joined Colorado Rapids II of MLS Next Pro. Helleren made his first start in September and will look to win the starting spot next season.
Midfield maestro Danny Robles re-signed for his former club, Northern Colorado Hailstorm, in USL League One and helped them reach the semifinals in only their second season.
After reviewing the current pros and their seasons, it’s time to look at some future pros and their college seasons.
Starting locally, eight members of the 2023 Ballard FC squad played their college ball in Seattle. At Interbay Stadium, Cameron Yriondo starred in midfield for Seattle Pacific University, earning First Team All-GNAC honors. Downtown, there were four more Ballard FC players on Championship field this year with Seattle University. Taketo Onodera, Demian Alvarez, Jeremy Opong, and Joon Lee won the Regular Season WAC championship with former Ballard FC manager Jason Farrell serving as assistant coach. Onodera earned First Team All-WAC recognition while Alvarez and Lee both received Second Team honors.
And lastly, we cannot forget the University of Washington trio of Peter Kingston, Khai Brisco, and Joe Dale. After an incredible summer where he won MVP of the USL2 final, Kingston was a consistent starter for the Dawgs this year after transferring from Seattle University. Brisco finished his University of Washington career with a PAC-12 Honorable Mention and Dale marked his sophomore season with his first collegiate goal in the season finale against Oregon State. From the Northwest to the Northeast, let’s check in on our six Ivy Leaguers.
Starting with the trio at the Univeristy of Pennsylvania, it was a second straight Regular Season Ivy League Championship for Charlie Gaffney, Leo Burney, and Stas Korzeniowski. Burney was recognized as a First Team All-Ivy League defender while Korzeniowski made the Second Team.
Although Penn took home the regular season title, it would be the Yale duo of Eric Lagos and Conrad Lee who would win the inaugural Ivy League Tournament, advancing to the NCAA tournament. Lagos received League Tournament MVP honors as well as a First Team All-Ivy selection as he and Lee helped Yale get their first NCAA tournament win since 1999.
Last, but definitely not least, is Kojo Dadzie, who led Brown University to an undefeated Ivy League regular season while receiving First Team All-Tournament and First Team All-Ivy honors in his senior season.
Outside of Seattle and the Ivy League, there were a few other Ballard FC players to receive All-Conference recognition this Fall. Zane Baumgardt earned a Second Team All-CCAA selection with Cal State Dominguez Hills, Charlie Holmes received Third Team All-Patriot League honors for Bucknell, and Pierluca Carnovale received NWC Honorable Mention recognition playing for Willamette University.
With successful Fall seasons all around the squad, the 2024 Ballard FC season cannot come soon enough. Make sure to get your season tickets now as Ballard FC moves to Memorial Stadium this May!