|Ian Pilcher is excited to be a Charlotte 49ers soccer commit|
|Center back is senior at Ardrey Kell High|
|Published Monday, February 22, 2021 1:10 pm|
The Ardrey Kell High senior, who plays for Charlotte Soccer Academy as a defender, will play for the Charlotte 49ers this fall.
“The main reason I chose Charlotte was the feeling it gave me when I went on the campus tour there,” Pilcher said. “The way the coaches, the players and all the other students invited me to be a part of their community even though I hadn’t really done anything there. They were just so kind and comforting. Even though it’s not a far drive for me, because I live close to Charlotte, it still felt like a home away from home already. It’s a place I feel like I could fit into easily on the field and in the classroom.”
Said 49ers coach Kevin Langan: “He is maturing and growing in our front of our eyes, which players certainly do at this age. He has incredible composure on the ball, and complete kind of mastery of the ball in the building phase. We are just excited to see him mature and develop as he goes through. He has all the tools to have a great career.”
Pilcher fell in love with the sport as kid, and his passion has only grown over the years.
“Someone once asked me, ‘why do you play soccer?’ and my response was, ‘the same reason why you breathe,’” he said. “It gives me life.”
Pilcher played up top and midfield when he was younger, but once he made the transition to central defender never looked back. Picher’s style of play is calm and composed, with the ability to play out of the back. He’s also not afraid to take risks.
“Ian makes a very difficult position in center back look very easy because he reads the game so well,” Langan said. “He uses his soccer IQ to cover spaces and angles to build out, rather than his brute strength to solve problems in front of him. It shows you a very good understanding of the game, which is kind of unusual for youth players. That is usually something we really work with them on.”
Pilcher has the ability to be a deep lying midfielder as well, based on his ability to handle the ball, but he also has the athleticism to make the transition to outside defender. Langan does not intend to confine him to singular role.
“That transition from youth soccer to under-23 soccer, as we call it, is exactly what he needs now,” Langan said. “He needs to be challenged. He needs to be pushed. He needs to be confronted with the rigors of playing with older players now.”
Pilcher’s first season with the 49ers will occur just before the inaugural season of Charlotte FC kicks off in 2022. He has more years of development ahead, but making it to the highest level is the goal.
“Playing professional soccer or getting into the MLS Superdraft or something like that would be great,” Pilcher said. “It’s definitely been a dream of mine since I was a little kid. It’s amazing to see in Charlotte that it’s grown so much as a sport and as a community. You can see that once we got Charlotte FC, everyone has been more appreciative and supportive of MLS soccer coming into Charlotte. It’s been nice to see, and hopefully it can continue that way no matter what happens.”
The growth of the game locally can only help the 49ers in recruiting. The goal is to bring in local players as often as possible.
“This is a huge soccer market, with lots of young players playing,” Langan said. “We are very fortunate now to have three elite club teams in boys soccer—Charlotte FC’s academy, Charlotte Soccer Academy and the Charlotte Independence. We are very spoiled that we get to see them week after week and watch their progress. With coach Jason [Osborne] being in the Independence and coach Brian [Edwards] being in the Charlotte FC group and with my connections to CSA, we really get a good chance to watch them develop over the years. We get a chance to coach them and see how coachable they are. We just get a chance to handpick who we think would be a great fit for our program, and these two young players are certainly that.”
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