January 18th, Waltham, MA, 2019; Following a wonderfully productive freshman campaign, GPS MA alumni Andrew Stevens has been named as captain of the Columbia Lions for the 2019 season, for his Sophomore season.
The 6’2” Marshfield native made 15 total appearances on the season, starting 13 of those, as the Lions went on to finish with a 10-5-1 record, only one result short of an Ivy League title and a NCAA D1 Tournament berth.
“Before a session a few weeks ago our head coach called me and two other guys into his office,” says Stevens of the day he found out he was a captain. “He sat us down and then tossed an armband to each of us. It was a really awesome moment.”
During his time at GPS, Stevens would bring home three MA State Championships and the 2015 US Club Soccer National Championship. He would also spend his final 5 years at the club captaining his side.
He credits this plethora of experience gained at GPS with setting him up to be successful in almost every facet of life.
“My long time GPS coach Matt Hardiman gave me the armband back in the 8th grade and I was fortunate enough to wear it from then on for GPS,” explains Stevens. “He always emphasized leading by example. when the games got tough, he would always challenge me to be the one to try and raise it. This pattern of him challenging me to change games and lift our team went on for many years. Having those experiences and lessons have and will continue to serve me well.”
Stevens joined the program at Columbia knowing he would have the chance to exhibit the talent and leadership GPS staff had come to know but that hard work was needed.
“I felt confident going into preseason,” say Stevens. “I trained really hard over the Spring and Summer, and was ready to go in and work my hardest to contribute to the team.”
This ‘team first’ mentality is what drives Steven’s game. To him, everything is done for the betterment of the team and it didn’t take long for those around him at Columbia to notice.
Columbia Head Coach Kevin Anderson got to witness this dedication during Steven’s first two appearances for the Lions, two appearances which helped cement his place as a starter for the rest of the season.
“I came off the bench in the first two games,” says Stevens discussing his breakthrough into the lineup. “In the second game I came on in the first half and within the first two minutes of being out there I made a crunching tackle. I always prided myself on winning my individual battles, and I think just being willing to fight for the team and to lay it all on the line really helped get me in the squad.”
Stevens would assume the starting role in midfield for the Lions following that second game and start the next 13 straight games he appeared in (missing the 10/30 matchup against Hofstra).
His performances would earn him postseason recognition as well earning a spot on the All Ivy League 2nd Team and while that would be enough to satisfy many, Stevens has his eyes set on higher goals.
“It is cool to be acknowledged with this award but we ultimately didn’t win any championships this season,” explains Stevens. “We were sent home after our last game. I am most hungry for an Ivy League Championship and an NCAA Tournament run.”
The Lions were on the cusp of both heading into the final game of the season against Cornell. A win against Cornell and a draw/loss for Princeton would have seen them claim the Ivy League title and earn that NCAA tournament run but an OT goal for Cornell crushed that dream.
While the fixture against Cornell ended the season on a sour note for Stevens he is not dwelling on the result and instead has turned his vision towards the next campaign.
“The way it went was cruel,” admits Stevens in regards to the game against Cornell. “We are already looking to next season, training and working really hard to be as ready as we can. The games are marginal. One extra run, pass, tackle can be the difference. Having that extra gear where, in the most critical moments of the game, you can find that extra bit of quality that is needed is crucial.”
With a leader like Stevens at the helm the Lions will be looking forward to the 2019 season with an eye on capturing their 1st outright Ivy League Title since 1993.