By ROB JONAS
COLONIE – Four members of the Section 2 Class AA champion Christian Brothers Academy soccer team signed their National Letters of Intent at a ceremony Thursday, March 21.
Striker Brady Van Epps signed with Brown University, while midfielder Keegan Vedder chose Rutgers University. Midfielder Eli D’Onofrio will continue his soccer career close to home at the University at Albany, and defender Quinn Becker will be a couple of hours west playing for nationally-ranked Syracuse University.
“They’re hard working players, but they have a high level of soccer intelligence and that’s what makes the difference,” said CBA soccer coach Phil Farinacci. “They have the foundation they need to get to the next level.”
All four players said they only dreamed about playing at the Division I level when they first joined the varsity program.
“It kind of came out of nowhere. I started slow, but I worked hard to get better and it showed,” said Vedder.
“It was definitely a goal, but it was a dream,” added Van Epps. “I had to keep pushing and working hard.”
Becker was eyeing smaller Division I programs until Syracuse contacted him to offer a scholarship.
“I was looking at a lot of Ivy League schools, and then out of nowhere, a top 20 program came knocking on my door,” said Becker.
Van Epps said he chose Brown because it offered the best mix of academics and athletics.
“[I want to] excel in the classroom and excel on the field, and hopefully win an Ivy League championship,” said Van Epps.
Vedder saw similarities in Rutgers’ soccer program to when he joined CBA’s varsity team. At the time, the Brothers were struggling to win games within the Suburban Council following the dissolution of the Big 10. Vedder – along with Van Epps, D’Onofrio and Becker – helped turn CBA into a juggernaut, culminating in the program’s first Section 2 title in November.
“Their soccer program is kind of slow, so I want to help them get better,” Vedder said of Rugters, which finished 4-13-1 in 2018.
D’Onofrio was the lone player of the quartet to choose to stay within the Capital District, but he joins a UAlbany program that has been to the NCAA Tournament twice in the last three years.
“Just being around it my whole life and knowing their coaches and how they play [was important],” said D’Onofrio.
Six more CBA athletes signed their National Letters of Intent at the ceremony – baseball players Peter O’Toole (Dartmouth) and Mike Murray (Hamilton College), rowers Connor Toomey (Syracuse) and Justin Decker (Mercyhurst), and tennis player Michael Kendrick (Springfield College).