After a three-year absence from postseason play, the Patriots look to gain a boost next year from incoming freshman soccer recruit Julius Rosa-DiStefano. Rosa-DiStefano committed to George Mason University in August 2011 and has since been utilizing his experience as a two-sport athlete to prepare for the upcoming challenge of being a Division I college athlete.

“I’m really looking forward to playing in college,” Rosa-DiStefano said. “I look forward to playing with players who are better than me and getting better as a player. Hopefully, I will get to start and earn some playing time.”

Throughout high school and his earlier years, Rosa-DiStefano participated in both club soccer and basketball. During his high school career, Rosa-DiStefano played soccer for Southwestern Youth Association.

He also made the freshman, junior varsity and varsity basketball teams for Westfield High School in Chantilly. Rosa-DiStefano enjoys the diverse attributes that the two sports add to his overall athleticism.

“Playing basketball and soccer helps me since they both bring something different,”Rosa-DiStefano said. “Soccer helps with my endurance and speed, as basketball works with my jumping and athleticism.”

Courting Rosa-DiStefano was not an easy task for Mason. Rosa-DiStefano was aggressively recruited by many Division I schools for his soccer skills.

Over the course of the recruiting period, Rosa-DiStefano was contacted by schools such as University of Richmond, University of Massachusetts, Mary Washington and University of North Carolina. Mercer University also contacted Rosa-DiStefano due to his talents on the basketball court.

Despite the interest other schools showed, Rosa-DiStefano was enamored with the Patriots program from the start.

“Mason was really appealing to me first of all because of the soccer program,” Rosa-DiStefano said. “I liked the coaches and the style of play. I like the campus and the size of the school, and one thing that really drew me in was the diversity.”

While some Division I college soccer players are discovered competing with their high school team, Rosa-DiStefano’s high-profile club team allowed him to be recognized and scouted in a different setting. While the team is based in Clifton and Centreville, the squad reaches out to a wide demographic in order to develop the best team possible.

The program is currently ranked 130th in the nation and 11th in the state of Virginia.

The program’s busy schedule of league games and tournaments brought  Rosa-DiStefano to the attention of scouts.

But the time-consuming nature of the soccer program, combined with a desire to continue playing basketball, left Rosa-DiStefano with a difficult choice to make.

“Originally, I was leaning toward playing more basketball. I was going to play AAU basketball my sophomore and junior year, but that ended up running into soccer season,” Rosa-DiStefano said. “So it really got complicated, but I ended up deciding on soccer this year.”

After committing to play soccer at Mason last summer, Rosa-DiStefano continued to play basketball at the high school level. He made the varsity team for the second year in a row and was part of a successful senior year campaign that earned the Bulldogs the Northern Region Championship and a trip to the Virginia State Championship tournament.

“Each sport helped out with each other in a way. I had to learn to balance my time more,” Rosa-DiStefano said. Despite Rosa-DiStefano’s colorful and storied high school career in soccer and basketball, the incoming freshman is not in the habit of living in the past.

Rather, Rosa-DiStefano is already looking forward to the next chapter in his life and readying himself to make an impact on the new program anxiously awaiting his arrival. He is also anticipating the new experiences college life will bring.

“I’m looking forward to playing,” Rosa-DiStefano said. “I think I can bring some speed and goal-scoring to the team. I am also looking forward to living on my own and experiencing the college life while taking different courses. Hopefully, I can become a leader later in my time at George Mason,”