Entering his fourth year at the helm, Heat men’s soccer coach Dante Zanatta has again gone south of the border to recruit for his budding program as they embark on transitioning to Canada West.
UBC Okanagan’s latest addition is 6-foot defender Hans Kogan from Bellingham who will join fourth-year Jorden Leib as the team’s second player from the state of Washington.
It was Leib, a former high school class and teammate to Hans, who helped in connecting the centre-back with Zanatta about opportunities to continue playing soccer and attend a top University.
“He was just saying that I should shoot Dante an email, and I did,” explains Hans on his conversation with Lieb.
After turning Dante’s and his collective coaching staff’s heads in March at the Heat’s Spring ID Camp with his potential, then receiving an offer to be part of the team, it became an easy choice for Kogan.
The decision was made even easier with a friend in Lieb and a sister already attending students at UBC’s Okanagan campus.
“I like the area a lot,” Kogan said of the Okanagan, “and also the size and the resources that UBC has here … (I also like) the team—talking to Dante about what he wants to do with the team, and how he likes to play defensively and building out of the back. Being a defender I really like that.”
Kogan hopes his athleticism and work ethic will be a good fit in Zanatta’s style and system.
“If you look at our defensive record last year, too many goals went in the back of the goal,” Zanatta said of Kogan’s potential contributions. “We weren’t athletic enough…so between him and Sean (PIicher) who signed earlier, as another centre-back, I think we’ve solidified our centre-back for the next few years.”
Kogan played out his high school career with the Squalicum High School Storm. He has played for his club team the Whatcom Rangers for the last six years, with the squad making the quarterfinals at the State championships in the last three years.
He was the high school All-Conference No. 1 pick for the Northwest Conference in Washington.
“We worked in a one-on-one session with him and it was quite good,” continued Zanatta on his evaluation of Kogan. “Hans can play wide too, so it’s going to be a very interesting preseason camp this year with some of the returning guys, and with Ryan Jerry who recently signed, there’s one or two guys at the camp here that have done well as a fullback, so it’s going to be very interesting.”
Zanatta has high hopes for Kogan’s ability to adjust to CIS level of play as the team enters its new league this fall.
“Athletically, I think he has the ability to play at that level. He’s going to be a green first-year player that’s going to get beat sometimes on the fact that he’s running around instead of thinking a bit, but as we’ve always said it’s about building the program long term.”