After winning college soccer’s biggest prize in 2015 and 2016, Lancaster native Drew Skundrich is back in Pennsylvania with Stanford this weekend aiming for a third straight title.
“I’m super excited for the opportunity, very thankful to still be playing and get back to the third final four,” Skundrich said in an interview at the Talen Energy Stadium with Brotherly Game and Dillon Friday of Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer on Thursday.
Skundrich, who graduated from Hempfield High School in 2014, is expecting a number of friends, family and former teammates to be at the game tonight. His dad has rented a large van for the 90-minute trek.
“It will be really cool playing here, hopefully I’ll have a bunch of family and friends come out to support, some of them that haven’t been able to see me play live,” said Skundrich, who played two seasons of high school soccer and played in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy with PA Classics throughout high school.
The central midfielder has been a key part of the Cardinal’s success over the last three seasons, as a right back on the first championship team in 2015 and as a playmaking midfielder and captain the past two seasons. He has five goals and five assists this season, nine and 13 for his career.
“It feels a little bit different, last ride, different roles obviously being a leader compared to sophomore year,” he said.
Coming home for the final four has been an added bonus, after playing in College Cups in Kansas City, Kansas and Houston, Texas the past two Decembers. In addition to playing possibly two more games, he has final exams scheduled for Monday and Tuesday to complete his degree in human biology.
Beyond that he hopes is to continue playing at the professional level, as his former teammate at Stanford and PA Classics, Brian Nana-Sinkham, has with Seattle Sounders 2 in USL after graduating in 2016.
In making the jump to the next level, Skundrich would join a number of players from Central Pa. to rise to the professional ranks in recent years. Several, like Skundrich, Nana-Sinkham, Connor Maloney and Keegan Rosenberry, were part of a Philadelphia Union youth team Jim Curtin led to a Generation adidas Cup title in 2012.
“There have been a ton of good players (from Lancaster County) like Andrew Wenger, Russell Canouse, Zarek Valentin, Keegan, a ton of good players,” Skundrich said. “I think the similarities (are) just we were raised to work hard whether with our family, our coaches, alongside our friends. We were always doing something and just being competitive with each other and working as hard as we could.”
Stanford play Akron tonight in the first of two semifinals kicking off at 6 p.m. in a rematch of a game the Cardinal won en route to their first championship in 2015 in a penalty shootout.
Check out the full transcript of Thursday’s interview at Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer’s website.