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Four Tigers to play semi-pro soccer

Dakota Wesleyan University goalkeeper Alex Nelson throws the ball to a teammate during a men's soccer game. (Brook Woehl/Dakota Wesleyan University)

Four of Jeremy Tosaya's players are getting the opportunity to improve their skills this summer by playing semi-professional soccer.

"This is a big deal for the Dakota Wesleyan University soccer program," Tosaya said in an email.

Tosaya, who is in Argentina recruiting, said the Tiger men's program has had players join semi-professional teams in the past but there has never four in one summer. One former player who made past semi-professional rosters was Mitchell native Jordan Werner, who played with the St. Louis Lions and Nashville Metros.

The four players representing DWU in the semi-professional leagues this summer are junior goalkeeper Alex Nelson, sophomore center back Blaine Bacon, sophomore center midfielder Peter Wartenberg and senior center midfielder Adhemar Lino Cortez.

Cortez signed with the Eau Claire Aris Futbol Club in Wisconsin. Eau Claire Aris FC is a member of the National Premier Soccer League, which is sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation.

Nelson, Bacon and Wartenberg all signed with the Chicago Inferno, a member of the United Soccer Leagues' Premier Development League. The PDL features 64 teams within four conferences throughout the United States and Canada.

"The league has proven to be a stepping stone for top professionals now playing throughout the world, with 70 percent of all (Major League Soccer) draftees having PDL experience," Tosaya said.

The NPSL and PDL compete in the fourth tier of the USSF, where collegiate players can compete at a semi-professional level and still maintain amateur status and college eligibility. The top three tiers of the USSF are professional leagues, which includes the MLS.

Bacon, a Spearfish native, said players sent videos and tried out for the teams.

"We sent about 10 or 11 hours of video of our games from the last couple of years," said Blaine, who joined the Chicago team Sunday. "I've been thinking about playing at this level since I got to DWU. Some other guys got interested, and they're some of the more dedicated guys who wanted to play this summer."

Bacon said the Tigers will be playing against other college players from around the country.

"It's going to be incredible, playing throughout the summer at the highest level I can play at right now," he said.

Brooke Cersosimo
Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.