Before taking over the Jamestown Community College men's soccer program nearly five years ago, Pat Anderson often found himself perturbed by its seeming inability to draw from a major resource: local talent.
"I've always believed that this area has had soccer players," Anderson explained Thursday evening, "and for a long time it disturbed me that we weren't getting those guys to come play soccer (at JCC). I'm glad that, in the last three or four or five years, we've been able to convince those really good players that JCC is a great option for them."
True to his aim, Anderson reeled in a pair area soccers' proverbial big fish this week, as Justin Loverme and Erik Olson signed letters of intent to play for the Jayhawks in the coming season, which is set to begin in August.
Erik Olson and Justin Loverme, seated from the left, will be taking their soccer talents to Jamestown Community College in the fall. Joining them in the photo, from the left, are Beth and Bob Olson, JCC coach Pat Anderson, and MaryAnn and Joe Loverme.
P-J photo by Rob Tucker
"Every year we always make a real effort to try to heavily recruit the best players in our area," Anderson said, "and these two guys are definitely among the very, very best."
For followers of local high school soccer, the names should be familiar.
A Post-Journal all-star, Loverme was the defensive anchor - especially when teammate Bryan Calimeri was injured midway through the season - for the eventual Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association Division 1 champion Southwestern Trojans, and was later named the league's defenseman of the year.
With Loverme patrolling the back line, Southwestern surrendered just six goals in 18 games.
"Justin is a very, very high-quality defensive player," Anderson said. "He's an intelligent player, and you can't beat intelligence when it comes to soccer."
Loverme, meanwhile, is thrilled to be continuing his soccer career.
"After our last game (Southwestern lost in overtime, 1-0, to Tonawanda in the sectional semifinals), I just thought to myself, I don't want this to be the end. I want to keep playing as long as I can."
Whereas Loverme stops goals, his future teammate, Olson, another Post-Journal all-star, scores them.
Olson netted a CCAA-high 21 goals last season to go with seven assists for the area's lone Section 6 championship-winning squad, the Maple Grove Red Dragons. He tallied both goals, including the game-winning header in overtime, against I-Prep to clinch the sectional title, and scored eight of his team's 13 goals during four postseason contests.
"Erik has all the skills up front, and he's big and he's strong," Anderson said. "You can tell both of them have a really high-quality work ethic, and that matches everything that we would like to get from them.
Olson, like Loverme, is looking forward to joining the Jayhawks.
"It's a great program," he said, "and I've always loved soccer, so I wanted to keep playing."
Anderson is hoping the pair, along with a solid group of international recruits and a core group of returners, can help lift the Jayhawks to another level in the tough NJCAA Region 3 Division III.
"These guys really fit in well with the guys coming back; they're nice additions," Anderson said. "We're hoping that we'll be able take the program and move up a level from where we've been. We've been very solid, we've been very good and our region is the best college soccer in the nation. It's difficult to move up, but we're going to have good, high-competitive soccer and these players are going to compete, for two years, against some of the best national and international talent there is."