Stanford midfielder Drew Skundrich has won cup finals before in Seattle, Kansas City and Houston, but becoming a third-time champion with the Cardinal on Sunday was extra special because it was his first time celebrating a title in his home state.
“It feels absolutely amazing,” Skundrich said after the win Sunday. “I just want to thank all my teammates for an incredible four years at Stanford. Nothing could have been possible without them, my coaches are amazing, (head coach Jeremy Gunn) has been incredible throughout this whole ride. I’m just very thankful we’ve been able to win three straight and hopefully they can continue the tradition in the future.”
A former PA Classics standout, Skundrich played two seasons at Hempfield High School and was also part of the Philadelphia Union Academy when it was made up of players from local youth club affiliates. Sunday’s national championship was actually Skundrich’s fourth major amateur trophy if you count the Generation adidas Cup trophy the Union youth team coached by Jim Curtin won in Seattle in 2012.
The Union U17 team won that game on penalties after a 2-2 draw with Toronto FC as the Cardinal did to capture their second title last year after a scoreless draw against Wake Forest. Skundrich missed his penalty attempt in 2016, but thanks to Sam Werner’s 102nd minute goal penalties were not needed to settle an evenly played match between the top two defenses in the nation.
Werner’s goal was just the seventh conceded by the Hoosiers in 25 games while the Cardinal allowed just nine goals in 22 games while keeping alive an NCAA Tournament scoreless streak that dates back to the quarterfinals in 2015.
“I was definitely thinking (it was going to go to penalties),” Skundrich said. “Indiana was tough to break down, but you always have in the back of your mind you want to end the game in regulation or overtime if that’s what it takes and Sam did that for us so fortunately we didn’t have to go to PKs.”
Though he didn’t receive one of the accolades handed out at the end of the match, Skundrich got a shoutout during the post-game press conference from fellow senior Tomas Hilliard-Arce, who was named the competition’s Defensive Most Valuable Player.
“Someone that is really important on our team but might not get a lot of the publicity is Drew Skundrich,” Hilliard-Arce told the media. “He's our captain and kind of our rock and he's someone that we always look to when we need that mental boost or that energy. So I think he's someone that although he's not up here, he's probably the biggest reason why we're three-time national champions.”
Skundrich didn’t have long to linger after celebrating this one, rushing off to the airport to fly back to California for two final exams he had scheduled today to complete his degree.
“I’ll be seeing (family and friends) over break and thank them for their support and everything,” Skundrich said.