Men’s Soccer Unveils Eight-Man Class of 2027

PHILADELPHIA – The University of Pennsylvania’s James C. Gentle head men’s soccer coach, Brian Gill, has announced the Quakers’ Class of 2027. Eight young men — Connor Dawson, Phillip Falcon III, Jack-Ryan Jeremiah, Adam Kuechler, Malachi Neal, Joaquin Niehenke, Owen Sullivan, Pierce Wagner — will join the Quakers next fall as freshmen.
“We are thrilled to combine this group of student-athletes with the returners, because each of them has qualities that we feel will positively add to the team,” said Gill. “In getting to know them through the process, they are a mature and ambitious collection of young men who will be good additions to the Penn Community whose competitive nature will continue to help raise the bar around the program.”
“We had some highly impactful older players graduate from the program and as a result our staff worked hard through this recruiting cycle to identify players and personalities we felt would fill some of the gap left by those departures. I would like to thank both Steve DeMatteo and Matt Poplawski for all their hard work in helping to bring together what we hope will be another strong class of Penn Soccer players.”
6-3 175       Defense       O’Fallon, Illinois / O’Fallon Township    St. Louis Scott Gallagher
Club/Academy: Captain of u19 MLS Next team … Led u17 MLS Next team to top 25 ranking and MLS Next playoffs in 2021 … Trained with Feyenoord Academy (Netherlands) in 2018
Personal: Son of Sally and Andy Dawson … Mother played field hockey & lacrosse, father played football at William and Mary … Will enroll in The College of Arts and Sciences
Why He Chose Penn: “I chose Penn because of the impressive academic and athletic programs. The first time I visited Penn, I was in awe of the campus and its beauty. I am excited to work with the talented coaching staff and develop with my future teammates.”
Coach Gill: “Connor is coming to Philly from St. Louis, a community rich in soccer history. He has a lot of the qualities that we look for in a center back. His confidence on the ball and overall range of pass are traits that we felt set him apart. As a defender, he is competitive and takes pride in organizing the line as well as winning his individual moments through the game. Athletically, Connor is mobile and has physical tools that should translate nicely to the college game. We are excited to see how he continues to grow within our environment.”


6-3  190      Goalkeeper                 Tampa, Fla. / Jesuit High              Tampa Bay United

High School: Three-time Florida Athletic Coaches Association All-State Team … 2022 United Coaches All-State Team … Two-time Jesuit Defensive Player of the Year … 2020 Class 5A state champion … Four-time Class 5A District champion … Four-time Class 5A Region champion … Three-time Tampa Bay Champions’ League Winners
Club/Academy: Member of Tampa Bay United MLS Next since 2020 … 2021 MLS Next national championship finalist and championship Man of the Match … 2021 MLS Next National Championship Golden Glove Winner
Personal: Son of Patricia and Phillip Falcon Jr. … Brother of Isabella … Will enroll in The College of Arts and Sciences … Former teammate of current men’s soccer player Erick Sakalosky
Why He Chose Penn: “I chose UPenn because it allows me the opportunity to succeed both academically and athletically. After meeting Coach Gill and all the coaches and interacting with the team, I felt immediately at home at the University of Pennsylvania. I like that the coaches have a plan in place to help develop me into becoming a top collegiate goalkeeper.”
Coach Gill: “Similarly to last year, we felt it was important to bring in another goalkeeper to the squad as Nick (Christoffersen) finishes out his final year. We have been watching Phil for some time with his Tampa Bay United team and felt he would be a great fit for our program. Phil has good size, mobility, solid with his feet, good shot stopper, and capable of making big plays when called upon. Phil also has a big personality, and we are hopeful that as he spends more time in the program that will develop into leadership quality.”

5-9 155       Midfield      Kailua-Kona, Hawaii / Hawaii Prep Academy   Seattle Sounders Academy
Club/Academy: Joined Seattle Sounders Academy in 2021 … Won the 2022 U17 GA Cup Champions – Seattle Sounders … 2022 MLSNext u17 Western Conference Champions … Has made three 2022 preseason appearances with Seattle Sounders first team… Made his first appearance with Tacoma Defiance of MLS Next Pro League against Houston Dynamo 2 in 2023… Captain of u17 Seattle Sounders MLS Next team
Personal: Son of Alyssa and Aaron Jeremiah … Will enroll in the Wharton School of Business
Why He Chose Penn: “I chose the University of Pennsylvania because of its highly-ranked academic reputation and the range of opportunities available to its students. The University of Pennsylvania was the optimal choice for me as a student-athlete because of my personal aspirations in the business world, as well as in my footballing future.”
Coach Gill: “Jack is the latest player to be joining us from the Seattle Sounders, the same academy that both Charlie (Gaffney) and Leo (Burney) played at prior to Penn. Jack is a central midfielder who enjoys the responsibility that comes with that position. He is comfortable with the ball at his feet and has a nice range of pass, but is also more than willing to hold up his end of the bargain defensively. Jack is a mature individual who we also feel will add a level of leadership to both this class as well as the program.”

6-2 175       Forward       Needham, Mass. / Roxbury Latin School     New England Surf
High School: 2021 and 2022 First-team All-State … 2021 and 2022 First-team All-Independent School League … 2021 and 2022 NEPSAC Honorable mention
Club/Academy: Member of New England Surf since 2020 … Two-time Massachusetts State Cup champion … 2021 US Youth Soccer Regional Champion and National Semi-finalist …. 2018 and 2019 Elite National Premier League Regional Champion and 2018 Elite National Premier League National Semi-finalist
Personal: Son of Paula Giancola and Kevin Kuechler … Brother, Paul, was a varsity sailer at Harvard … Will enroll in The Wharton School of Business.
Why He Chose Penn: “I chose Penn because I felt the coaches understood me the best as a player and person and had a vision for the team that was exciting. In addition to its outstanding soccer program, the university offers an excellent education in a fun, historic city. I look forward to pushing myself and the rest of the team as far as we can go.
Coach Gill: As a coaching staff, we are both curious and excited to have Adam joining the program. He is an attacking-minded player that we could see fitting into a few different positions across the front line. Adam is a bright young man both in the classroom as well as on the field and I am interested to see how he develops in our environment.”

6-2 180       Defense       Cherry Hill, N.J. / Westtown School (PA)                                FC Delco
Club/Academy: Member of FC Delco since 2020 … Member of REAL NJ from 2017-2020 … 2021 MLS Next Cup semifinalist … 2022 MLS Next Cup quarterfinalist
Personal: Son of Mary Morris and Norman Neal … Brother of Neylan, Norisa, and Niare … Will enroll in The College of Arts and Sciences
Why He Chose Penn: “Penn was always my first college choice for many reasons. Most of my family lives in Philadelphia so I wanted the opportunity to play in front of my family and represent them and Philadelphia. I immediately connected with the coaches at Penn, their philosophy and coaching style which was an important factor in my decision. Lastly, Penn offers the high-level academics I sought as well as a winning soccer team full of talent. I hope to help Penn win many more Ivy Championships and go deep in the [NCAA Championships]”
Coach Gill: “It is always a nice part of the recruitment process to have local players interested in Penn and our program. Malachi has been a mainstay at center back with his highly successful FC Delco team over the years. In watching him these last few seasons, we feel Malachi has a lot of the physical and soccer qualities that could allow him to develop into a promising center back for us. In many ways his personality and coachability might be what excites us most about him.”

6-2 175        Defense        Morristown, N.J. / Seton Hall Prep       Players Development Academy
High School: 2022 United Soccer Coaches All-American … Two-time First-Team All-State … Two-time First-Team All-Conference … Two-time First-Team All-County … Two-time conference champion … 2021 State champion … 22 goals and 29 assists in 54 varsity matches
Club/Academy: Qualified for MLS Next Playoffs 2021-22 … MLS Next 2022 Quarterfinalist
Personal: Son of Ana and Michael Niehenke … Brother, Juan Sebastian, is a Bates men’s soccer team captain … Will enroll in The College of Arts and Sciences.
Why He Chose Penn: “Penn is a dream school. It is a world-class university that will help prepare me to maximize my potential for life after college. I also will have the opportunity to be part of a team, playing a sport that I love, with great teammates, and great coaches in one of the best cities.”
Coach Gill: “From the start of the recruiting process to now, we have seen Joaquin grow a lot as both a player and a person. He is someone that we feel possesses a strong technical skill set as well as a sound IQ for the game that will fit well in our group. Over these last couple seasons with his Seton Hall Prep and PDA teams, he has developed both competitive and leadership sides of his game that will be important during his time here at Penn.” 

5-11 170       Defense        Bay Village, Ohio / Saint Ignatius      Spire FC
High School: 2022 First-Team All-State and United Soccer Coaches All-Midwest Team … Three-time Ohio state champion … Two-time United Soccer Coaches national champion
Club/Academy: Four-time qualifier for US Youth Soccer National Championships … Three-time US Youth Soccer National League champion … Five-time US Youth Soccer Ohio State Cup champion
Personal: Son of Trisha and Patrick Sullivan … Father played soccer for Notre Dame (1990-1991) … Has one sister, Kealy … Will enroll in The College of Arts and Sciences.
Why He Chose Penn: “I was drawn to Penn due to its exceptional academic reputation, but after visiting the campus, talking with the coaches and players, I realized it was the ideal fit for me. I look forward to utilizing the academic resources, developing as a player, and contributing to the team’s pursuit of additional Ivy League titles.”
Coach Gill: “Over the last four years Owen has played in one of the best high school soccer environments in the country at St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland, OH. He has a good understanding of both what it takes to be a leader and the demands of playing at a high level. During the recruiting process, Owen attended one of our ID camps and showed that he has the ability to be a versatile player, which we feel is important to the team at this point in time. He is someone we are looking forward to working more with on the field.”


5-11 150      Midfield      San Diego, Calif. / The Bishop’s School   Albion SC San Diego

Club/Academy: 2021 and 2022 Albion Cup Champions … 2021 Surf Cup Champions … 2021 and 2023 Top Drawer Soccer Boy’s Club Soccer Standout … 2020-2021 MLS Next Southwest Division Champions
Personal: Son of Dori and Klaus Wagner … Brother of Lucy and Amelie … Will enroll in The College of Arts and Sciences
Why He Chose Penn: “After working with the coaching staff and exploring the campus, I knew Penn was the perfect fit for me both academically and athletically to maximize my potential and challenge me to become the best version of myself. I love the campus, I love the city, and I am excited for the opportunity to grow as a person, a player, and a student in such an all-around exceptional environment.”
Coach Gill: “Pierce might be one of the most technical players in this incoming group. Throughout the recruiting process we watched him play in a number of different midfield spots for his Albion team. The ability to handle tight space and step through pressure on the dribble are aspects of his game that most excite us. We see that as a quality that could be useful in both wide and central roles on the field.”