WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ - Former Monmouth University men's soccer player Anthony Vazquez (Belford, NJ/Middletown North) has signed a professional contract to play for the Puerto Rico Islanders of the North American Soccer League (NASL). Vazquez has already played in several games this season, including his April 7 debut against the Tampa Bay Rowdies and an appearance in front of 13,151 fans against the San Antonio Scorpions.
"Overall, my experience with the Islanders has been great," said Vazquez. "The training has been very competitive and I am quickly adjusting to the level of play. In 2008, I was contacted by Puerto Rico's men's national team general manager, Rene Echevarria, to participate in a game against the Dominican Republic for the 2010 World Cup qualifiers. The coach of the national team at the time was Adrian Whitbread, who is presently the coach for the Islanders. Ever since 2008, he has expressed an interest in the way I played."
Vazquez was a highly-decorated defender in his three years with the Hawks. He was twice named to the All-North Atlantic Regional Team, as well as two All-Northeast Conference honors.
"We are very happy for Anthony," said Monmouth Head Coach Robert McCourt. "He is living the dream of playing professional soccer. Being that his family is originally from Puerto Rico makes this opportunity even better. We wish him all the luck and success with the Islanders."
Vazquez helped the Hawks to three-straight Northeast Conference Regular Season Championships, as well as three-straight NEC Tournament titles. Twice, Vazquez helped Monmouth advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
"Being a former player at Monmouth with a great coaching staff and group of teammates has helped me get to where I am today," said Vazquez. "Not only have I become a better player, but I have also become a better person since attending Monmouth."
Vazquez helped the Hawks' defense limit opponents to a skimpy 0.64 goals-against average while recording 13 clean sheets to earn his second-straight Regional All-America honor in 2011. He moved from the All-NEC Second Team last season to the first team this year. The versatile senior also scored a goal and added two assists in his senior season. Vazquez was also part of a trio of Hawks named to the preseason Hermann Trophy Watch List. His penalty kick decided the shootout victory over Stony Brook in the NCAA First Round on The Great Lawn.
"Puerto Rico is a beautiful island with great weather all year round," said Vazquez. "I am currently living in an apartment overlooking the San Juan beach. It is something that most players would love to experience and something that I am extremely grateful for. The club has great fan support, making it a great atmosphere to play in front of each game."