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Norse Sign 2 More Soccer Stars for Next Year's Team

The Northern Kentucky University men's soccer team has announced the signing of two more student-athletes, bringing the 2014 signing class to a total of eight.

Kobie Qualah – Qualah is one of five in-state recruits for the Norse this year. He is a striker from Trinity High School in Louisville, Ky. He scored a combined 50 goals during his junior and senior seasons, leading the Shamrocks in that category. He led his team to an appearance in the state championships during his senior year, and he was also named to the all-state first team. He played club level soccer with the River City Rovers.

Diego Martinez – Martinez is the first international prospect to sign with the Norse for the 2014 season. The attacking midfielder comes to Highland Heights from Barcelona, Spain. In Spain, he played club soccer with Club Esportiu Mataró in Catalonia.  The club competes in the Liga Nacional and was the youth club of current FC Barcelona star Cesc Fàbregas. He is only the second Spaniard to compete in a Norse uniform, following Jorge Villalba. 
 
"Kobie and Diego bring a piece of the puzzle that we are certainly looking to build on in the attack," said head coach John Basalyga. "Kobie is a big, strong, athletic forward and Diego is a player that has the ability to not only score goals but set other guys up. Both are excellent students and they will be competing with the other incoming players in for quality playing time this fall. We hope this class will set the new foundation for the future."

The news comes just under two weeks after the Norse announced the signing of four other players.

Dylan Carss – Dylan joins NKU from Mercer County High School in Harrodsburg, Ky. He plays as a defender, predominantly as a center-back. He and the Titans were two-time state finalists in 2010 and 2013. He received an honorable mention to the 2012 All-State team and was named second-team All-State as a senior. He was named to the All-Region team his senior year, helping guide his team to regional championship. He scored seven goals and notched eleven assists throughout his high school career. He represented Lexington FC at the club level.
 
Ryan Payne – Payne heads to NKU from Trinity High School in Louisville, Ky. He was a three-year varsity athlete with the Shamrocks, playing as a full-back and midfielder. He scored 19 goals and added 32 assists during his career at Trinity. He captained the Shamrocks as a senior and took them to the state championship. He was named first team academic All-State as a senior. At the club level, he played for 5-time state champion River City Rovers.
 
James Morris III – Morris is a graduate of Male High School in Louisville, Ky. He played primarily as a full-back and outside midfielder. He was a four-year varsity athlete and was a Kentucky 2013 Gatorade Player of the Year nominee. He scored 53 career goals, including a team record 27 during his senior season. He also added 30 assists during his time with the Bulldogs. He was named first team All-State as a senior and was an honorable mention as a junior. Like Ryan Payne, he also played club ball with the River City Rovers.
 
Christian Carey – Carey joins the Norse from Harrison County High School in Cynthiana, Ky. He is the only goalkeeper to sign for NKU in the 2014 class. He was a four-time academic All-State student-athlete, as he played varsity for four years. He complied a 50-29-5 overall record during his career with the Thoroughbreds. He helped guide his school to their first ever regional title in 2012. In 2012, he had a 0.7 goals against average, which was the fourth lowest in the state. He is the third student-athlete in the 2014 class to have played club soccer at River City Rovers.
 
"These players all come from strong high school and club programs in the state of Kentucky," said head coach John Basalyga. "Their competitiveness and high work rate on and off the field will be welcome additions to our program this fall and for the next four years. "
 
The additions of Qualah and Martinez will add some quality depth to the Norse attack during the 2014 season. For updates on the team throughout the spring season and summer offseason, follow @NKUNorseMSOC on Twitter.

Photo: Diego Martinez