Hammerheads add goalkeeper, drop preseason opener to Tar Heels

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Wilmington Hammerheads FC announced the signing of goalkeeper John Smits to the 2016 USL regular season roster.

Smits is joining the Hammerheads after a successful four-year career with FC Edmonton in the North American Soccer League (NASL). Smits proved his worth early, having a shutout game in his pro debut against the Atlanta Silverbacks.

John Smits signed with the Wilmington side last week. Photo courtesy- Wilmington Hammerheads FC
John Smits signed with the Wilmington side last week. Photo courtesy- Wilmington Hammerheads FC

In 2014, Smits became the starting goalkeeper for Edmonton and was awarded the NASL Golden Glove award for lowest goals against average in the league that season.

“This year, I’m excited to be working with this bright young group and I’m anticipating a positive work environment within the team,” said Smits. “I’m ecstatic for the challenge ahead and can’t wait to get to work to achieve our goals this year.”

Prior to his professional career, the six-foot, four-inch native Canadian was already dominating the field within the ranks of the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS).  Smits was a three-year starter for the University of Toronto Eagles, where he set the record for 12 shutouts in 15 games and only 3 goals against in 2011.

“John is a great addition to our roster,” said Head Coach Mark Briggs about the 27-year-old goalkeeper. “He brings good professional experience and will solidify our back line.”

Wilmington kicked off its 2016 preseason slate on Sunday, dropping a 2-1 match to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Wingate University will host the Hammerheads on Wednesday, March 2, followed by a match at Elon University on Saturday, March 5. From there the team will travel to MUSC Health Stadium to take on The Charleston Battery on Wednesday, March 9.

There will be an intersquad game at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 12 at the Cape Fear Regional Soccer Park, followed by a match at Coastal Carolina on Tuesday, March 15.