posted on: Thursday February 13, 2020
By Liam Tormey ’22
Three Providence College men’s soccer players are now professional soccer players. Danny Griffin ’20 and Austin Aviza ’20RS are now both part of Major League Soccer (MLS) teams, while Tiago Mendonca ’20RS has signed in the United Soccer League (USL).
The 2020 MLS SuperDraft took place on Thursday, January 9. In the draft, Aviza was selected in the second round, number 44 overall, by Orlando City. Griffin was also selected in the second round, just five spots after Aviza in the number 49 spot overall, selected by the Columbus Crew SC. Mendonca has signed a professional contract with the New England Revolution II in the USL League One.
In the 2019 campaign for the Friars, Aviza, from Medway, MA, featured in all 23 games as PC’s goalie. Aviza was also honored to the Big East Weekly Honor Roll twice along with being awarded All-Big East Third Team honors. After their second round win in the NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament against Penn State University, Coach Craig Stewart credited Aviza, saying, “I think he’s been steady all year and very consistent as a goal keeper,” and a large part of the comeback win against Penn State was because of Aviza; as Coach Stewart mentioned, “We don’t win that game without him.” In the 23 games Aviza played this season, he posted a 16-7 with 56 saves and recorded nine shutouts.
Griffin, one of the captain midfielders from Wethersfield, CT, had the same profound impact for the team in his time spent at Friartown. In his career, Griffin recorded 32 points with 13 goals and six assists. Griffin has been named to the Preseason All-Big East Team in 2018 and was also a unanimous pick into the Big East All-Freshman Team. He played and started in all 80 games during his career. In the 2019 campaign, Griffin had eight points and one game-winning goal this season against the University of Villanova in a 2-0 victory. He was also awarded All-Big East Third Team Honors this past season.
Mendonca, from Faro, Portgual, was another captain for the Friars this season. He started all 23 games and was an integral part in the midfield. He was crucial in helping the team reach the third round of the NCAA Tournament. In his time at PC, Mendonca recorded 26 total points with 11 goals and four assists. Before the season’s start, Mendonca was named to the Preseason All-Big East team and then was named to the All-Big East First Team and Big East All-Tournament Team to round out the season. In the second round game against Penn State, Mendonca scored the equalizer with just under five minutes remaining in regulation before the Friars would go on to win in overtime.
After PC’s heartbreaking loss to Clemson Unversity in double overtime in the third round of the NCAA Tournament, Coach Stewart commended his senior captains, saying he “couldn’t be more proud for the work that they’ve contributed towards the program.” Stewart said they were both “fantastic footballers but also human beings.”
In the same press conference, Griffin spoke of his time with the Friars and said, since freshman year, “The community, the coaches, the staff, the trainers, it’s been a family and it’s meant everything to us.”
Aviza, Griffin, and Mendonca all played crucial roles in the big success PC had on the pitch this past season. They were role models for the organization and have left their mark on Friar history.