Transfers play an increasingly important role at major college programs, in particular as they seek to fill gaps left by the early departure of stars to the pro ranks. St. John's, Maryland and North Carolina, which aim to dethrone Wake Forest at this weekend's Men's College Cup at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas, all have transfers in prominent roles.
(NEAL KITSON, St. John's).Kitson won a national title -- NCAA Division II -- as a freshman at Dowling, but he then transferred to nearby St. John's, where he redshirted in 2005, played one game in 2006 and split time with incumbent Jason Landers in 2007 before taking over as the No. 1 keeper in 2008. Kitson ranks fourth in the country with a 0.466 goals-against average. His dream is to play pro soccer in his family's native England.
NELSON BECERRA (St. John's). Peruvian-born midfielder started out at Division III Centenary College after playing for prep New Jersey prep power St. Benedict's. Started 16 games as a sophomore for the Red Storm and is its leading scorer in 2008 with eight goals and seven assists. His penalty kick won game against Indiana that sent St. John's to College Cup.
RICH COSTANZO (Maryland).Costanzo was Big Ten Freshman of the Year as a forward at Penn State in 2004 but was then injured and sat out the 2005 season. He was brought in by Maryland to help in the rebuilding after losses following the Terrapins' 2005 national championship. Costanzo started 17 games in midfield in 2006 and then was converted to a defender. He's been the Maryland right back for most of the last two seasons and developed into one of the ACC's top outside backs. "He is one of the toughest and most competitive players you will ever see," says Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski. "He has a great combination of defending skills and valuable attacking skills."
GARRY LEWIS (North Carolina).The Floridian began his career at St. John's, where he made 21 starts as a freshman and was named to the Soccer America all-freshman second team. He left for Chapel Hill shortly thereafter, though, and has started 50 games in midfield for the Tar Heels over the last three seasons. He's enjoyed his best season in 2008, scoring four goals. The biggest was his golden goal, a header at the far post, that gave Carolina a 3-2 win over UIC in the third round of the NCAA Tournament.
RYAN ADELEYE (North Carolina).Adeleye was a two-year starter as a defender at Davidson before moving upstate to UNC, where he has started on the backline for two seasons. He's started 35 games in two seasons with the Tar Heels. The product of New Jersey's PDA program hopes to pursue a pro career.