LEWISTON, Maine -- Bates soccer players may play at an elite Division III level during the season, but in the offseason, they have the opportunity to compete at an even higher talent level. Over the past summer, Bates men's soccer players John Murphy '13 and Nick Sorice '15 became the first ever Bobcats to play in the USL Premier Development League (PDL).
The PDL is the highest level of soccer a college player can compete in without signing a professional contract and losing his eligibility. Division I powerhouses such as North Carolina, Notre Dame, Maryland, Duke and Ohio State all had players compete in the league this past summer.
Murphy played four games for the MPS Portland Phoenix in Maine, including a two-assist performance in a 5-0 regular season win over Boston Victory. Murphy also played in Portland's 3-2 playoff defeat against eventual Eastern Conference finalist Ottawa Fury. The Phoenix has had eight players turn professional over the last three seasons, including Bryan Gaul of the Los Angeles Galaxy and Aaron Schoenfeld of the Columbus Crew in Major League Soccer.
Sorice played four games for the Westchester Flames in New York state. The sophomore defender started in Westchester's regular-season finale at the Bermuda Hogges.
Both players went on to post excellent seasons in the Bates uniform. Murphy ranked second in the NESCAC in scoring and earned all-conference honors for the second straight year. He was also selected to play in the NEISL Division III All-Star Game, to be played Nov. 25 at Harvard, and in January he will participate in a pro combine.
"We're proud of the level John and Nick reached over the summer," said Bates head coach Stewart Flaherty. "The PDL is a proven conveyor belt to the professional leagues of American soccer. Experiences like what they've gone through only add to the elite athletic and educational experience offered to student-athletes at Bates."