Peachtree City Sign George Mason Forward Tolunimi Ibikunle and Midfielder Zion Gray
Regardless of how well a team can defend their side of the pitch, if they cannot put the ball in the net, they will never win. That has been one of MOBA's biggest struggles over the last two seasons, as goal totals have been less than impressive. That is not for lack of talent, however, as MOBA have seen some very skilled scorers come through including Todd Fidler, Edmundo Robinson, and Santiago Moore, but nobody has truly been able to be a consistent target. 2018 is a prime season to reverse those fortunes, as former Puerto Rico Islanders great Nicholas Addlery has joined the PDL coaching staff as an assistant, and he brings with him a wealth of goal-scoring experience. All that remains is to start building up the attack, and MOBA have just announced their first offense-focused signings of the off-season.
Tolunimi Ibikunle - Forward - George Mason University
A native of Philadelphia, Tolunimi Ibikunle featured as part of a well-developed Philadelphia youth system. For three years from 2008-10, Ibikunle played for the Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer Association Olympic Development team before joining FC Delco Academy under head coach Jonathan Rhodes in 2012. Ibikunle played high school soccer at St. Joseph's Preparatory School, where he was named to the All-Catholic Second Team. Ibikunle comes from a very soccer-driven family, as both of his brothers played Division 1 college soccer, with Olutomi Ibikunle going to the University of Pittsburgh before playing professionally in England and Italy, and Olutolani Ibikunle going to Wake Forest before being drafted by Colorado Rapids in 2014 and going on to play in Finland.
Tolunimi committed to play college soccer at West Virginia after high school, where he played thirteen matches his freshman season, scoring just one goal, a match-winner against High Point. Following the season, Ibikunle transferred to George Mason, and after red-shirting his first year, he saw decent action during his sophomore season. Ibikunle made six starts in twelve matches for the Patriots, scoring two goals and picking up an assist in an early season match against Cornell. 2017 saw a drop off in numbers, however, as a lack of playing time resulted in a goalless season. As a senior in 2018, expect to see Ibikunle have a significantly increased role at the front for head coach Greg Andrulis, as his presence could certainly help George Mason's performance on the pitch following a 5-9-2 season.
Zion Gray - Midfielder - George Mason University
Out of Snellville, Georgia, Zion Gray took one of the best paths through youth soccer. Playing club soccer for Concorde Fire early on, Gray featured as one of the premier scorers for the team, as one of his goals was nominated for US Youth Soccer Goal of the Year in 2012. Gray attended the prestigious IMG Academy during his high school years before committing to West Virginia for the 2015 season. Gray did not see much playing time for the Mountaineers, playing in just six matches with only one start over two seasons. Gray went back to IMG during the summer of 2016 to play for the academy PDL club, and after the 2016 college season, Gray transferred to George Mason. During his junior season with the Patriots, Gray only made two appearances, but that was mostly due to the wealth of seniors playing ahead of him. With a large portion of the George Mason team graduating, Gray, alongside Ibikunle, can expect to see a significantly increased role as long as he can stay healthy.
Both Tolunimi Ibikunle and Zion Gray are very talented, offensively-minded players who have the potential to bolster the MOBA attack under Nicholas Addlery. There are still more offensive signings to come, but having Ibikunle and Gray to lay the foundation is a great sign going forward, and it only helps to build the anticipation for the upcoming season. Slowly but surely, the big picture of MOBA's 2018 roster is coming together, and with the final session of PDL tryouts officially wrapped up, the next stop is pre-season friendlies, and then regular season kick-off on May 12th.
Photo Courtesy: George Mason University