The Otters head into the 2019 season looking to build off the momentum of last year’s record-breaking season. Nine players from last year’s squad and one from 2017 will return to Johnson City and represent the Otters this summer. Six of those players will anchor the backline.
In goal, Carlos Rubio last played for the Otters in 2017. He appeared in seven games and made 31 saves. He also recorded a 1.71 goals against average, which was an Otters record at the time. After playing with the Otters that summer, Rubio returned to Ohio Valley for his senior season where he led the Fighting Scots to their best ever season and #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Rubio was named the Hero Sports GK of the Year and Player of the Year. Rubio went on to play professionally in Bulgaria after graduating, and has now returned to the United States, serving as the GK coach at Lenoir-Rhyne University in North Carolina.
The Otters will also return goalkeeper Tim Trilk. Serving primarily as the Otters #2 goalkeeper last season, Trilk made two appearances, including a 3-3 draw on the road at the Carolina Dynamo. That was only the Otters third-ever road result at the time. At Western Illinois this past season, Trilk started every game in goal for the Leathernecks. He recorded four shutouts and made 53 saves, fourth best in the Summit League.
George Stanley returns to Johnson City after a very strong 2018 season with the Otters. The English centerback played in 11 games for the Otters, logging over 800 minutes as the anchor of the backline. Stanley was also able to record six shots on goal off of set pieces. After the season with the Otters, Stanley went on trial with USL Championship side North Carolina FC.
Another returner on the backline, Diego Thielen provides versatility to play both fullback or centerback. Thielen made 12 appearances (tied for fourth-most in a season) and scored the game-tying goal at West Virginia in last year’s miracle two-goal comeback in extra time. He just completed his senior season at Ohio Valley where he made 15 appearances and scored one goal.
On the left side, the Otters will again have Blake Barribeau to do what he does best and influence the game offensively and defensively from the LB spot. Barribeau also made 12 appearances last season, logging 1,075 minutes and three assists, both in the top five for an Otters season. He returned to school in the fall and played a vital role for the Palm Beach Atlantic Sailfish, playing in 18 games with 11 starts and recording four assists for the 19-1-1 Sailfish.
Teammate James Scasserra will also return to hold down the right back spot. For the Otters, Scasserra played 600 minutes over ten games and used good instincts to time his interceptions and spark the counterattack. Scasserra chose to redshirt this past season at Palm Beach Atlantic.
The Otters will continue with player announcements every day at noon all throughout this week, as well as other announcements about the upcoming season! Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to be up to date on all things Otters as we prepare for the 2019 season! Individual and season tickets will be available for purchase through the HappsNow app. #FearTheFur