While a local team will not even have a chance of making a run to the College Cup at Talen Energy Stadium this year, there are still a number of players with ties to the area who have a chance to come home for college soccer’s final four next month.
Nearly half of those players spent time in the Philadelphia Union Academy system prior to heading off to college.
This includes the trio of Mark McKenzie (Bear, Del.), Justin McMaster and Joey DeZart at top overall seed Wake Forest. McKenzie is coming off a strong performance in the ACC Tournament that saw him named to the all-tournament team. He’s only appeared in 13 of the team’s 20 games this season - making his first start in the conference semifinal against Clemson - but has done well with the opportunities. DeZart, a sophomore, has an assist in 17 games playing in a holding midfield role and McMaster has a pair of goals and three assists in 17 games.
Sophomore forward Raheem Taylor-Parkes was on the losing end of a penalty kick shootout with Virginia to Wake Forest on Sunday but he’ll look to make an impact in another tournament run for a Cavaliers team he’s scored twice for as a sophomore in 13 games.
Dawson McCartney (Voorhees, N.J.) has been a steady contributor in his first season at Dartmouth with a pair of goals and eight assists in 16 games and 13 starts while fellow academy grad Tiger Graham (Malvern, Pa.) has a pair of goals in 16 games and four starts for the Big Green while YSC Academy grad Aaron Schwartz (Bryn Mawr, Pa.) is a reserve goalkeeper.
North Carolina midfielder Jack Skahan has a goal and a pair of assists in 18 games and 13 starts for the Tar Heels, the third overall seed in the tournament field. Teammate Will Campbell has played just 38 minutes this season.
Sebastian Elney and Maryland will have to go the long route if they are to return to the College Cup the program lost to Notre Dame when it was last in Chester in 2013. Elney is the second-leading goal scorer on the Terps with five goals and a pair of assists in 18 games.
Michigan is in the tournament for the first time since 2012. Goalkeeper Andrew Verdi (Ivyland, Pa.) started the first 13 matches but hasn’t seen the field in the last six for the Wolverines, which face the winner of Colgate and UMass.
Other Union Academy grads in the tournament include Akron defender Morgan Hackworth, Clemson defender Robert Campbell, Duke senior midfielder Noah Snyder (Warrington, Pa.), Notre Dame defender Patrick Berneski (Warrington, Pa.), FIU midfielder Mohamed Conde (Philadelphia, Pa.), Colgate defender Brandon Golden, Stanford defender Andrew Aprahamian (Malvern, Pa.) and Virginia forward Jerren Nixon.
Several other players on tournament teams have ties to the region.
Former Continental FC forward and YSC Academy grad Diallo Simon-Ponte picked a great time to score his first collegiate goal, scoring the lone goal in a 1-0 win over Rider that booked Fairfield a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011. Fairfield will face New Hampshire in the first round. PA Classics alum Nick Miller (Lebanon, Pa.) has made five appearances and a start for New Hampshire this season.
Virginia Tech goalkeeper Ben Lundgaard (Greenville, Del.) will look to keep his stellar college career going against Air Force in the first round with Michigan State awaiting the winner. Lundgaard was recently named first team all-conference in the ACC and will be a name to watch in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft in Philadelphia.
Another local star and name to watch in the draft is seeking his third College Cup title: Stanford midfielder Drew Skundrich (Lancaster, Pa.). The PA Classics alum has five goals and four assists for the nine-seed Cardinal this season.
PA Classics alum Sean O’Hearn (Lancaster, Pa.) has been a steady presence, starting all but two of Georgetown’s games in his freshman season while defender Chris Le (York, Pa.), defender/midfielder Austin Riddick and reserve goalkeeper Maurice Coyle (New Hope, Pa.) add to the overall 14th-seeded Hoyas local connection. Georgetown will play the winner of Central Arkansas and SMU, which has former Pennsylvania high school player of the year Colten Habecker (Douglassville, Pa.) on its roster.
Hans Kroschwitz (Pipersville, Pa.) and Old Dominion face NC State in a first round match. The freshman has a goal and five assists in his first season with the Monarchs while Zach LoBasso (Yardley, Pa.) is still awaiting his college debut.
In addition to Berneski, Notre Dame has sophomore defender Senan Farrelly (Havertown, Pa.) and freshman midfielder Aiden McFadden (West Chester, Pa.) on its roster. Farrelly, a Continental FC alum, has made four starts and 10 appearances for the Irish while it appears as though McFadden, a former Penn Fusion star, has not seen the field.
William & Mary defender Tanner Shane (Macungie, Pa.) has appeared in all 20 of the Tribe’s games so he’ll likely be featuring in a first round match against Columbia. If they win, top-seeded Wake Forest will await.
Other rostered players from the area include Mason Miller (Berwyn, Pa.) and Jerry Karalis (Bryn Mawr, Pa.) on Colgate, Duke reserve goalkeeper Erik Hanson (Mechanicsburg, Pa.), Fairfield reserve goalkeeper Liam Dougherty (Wayne, Pa.) and midfielder Joseph Meyer (Wilmington, Del.), Fordham duo Matt Miller (Hershey, Pa.) and Dan Miklos (Manheim, Pa.) and Virginia forward Leon Maric (Gilbertsville, Pa.) and defender Spencer Patton (Morrisville, Pa.).