The Hermann Trophy is a big deal. Given annually by the Missouri Athletic Club to the nation’s top collegiate soccer player of each gender, past winners include Claudio Reyna, Alexei Lalas, Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly – prominent fixtures on the U.S. soccer scene and some of the nation’s most prominent faces in the sport.
Being considered for the honor, then, seems like it would be a fairly big deal in and of itself. Thirty-eight men’s players were named to the award’s watch list this month, and as such were acknowledged by the award’s committee as being worthy of nomination for the sport’s top individual honor.
But GW senior Andy Stadler, one of those 38, has a bit of a different perspective on things.
“It’s all right, I guess,” said Stadler, who scored 14 goals last season and enters this season 10th in school history with 22. “There’s a lot of players on it, so I don’t look into it that much.”
Thirty-eight players may seem like a lot, but considering the thousands of players spread across Division I and its nearly three dozen conferences, it’s still pretty select company. But even winning the award – and thus appearing on the all-important list of one – isn’t much of a goal for Stadler.
“If we don’t win, then it doesn’t mean anything,” the Wisconsin native said. “I’d rather win games than win (the Hermann Trophy).”
Classic athlete-speak, sure, but it’s hard to hear Stadler say it and not believe him. He and his fellow seniors on the team have yet to reach the Atlantic 10’s postseason in their GW careers, a fact they are all too aware of entering their final season as Colonials.
“I’ll be really, really angry and disappointed if we don’t make the A-10 Tournament,” he said. “We came so close the past two years, especially last year.”
That, they did. Needing only a draw at home in their season-ending Senior Day match against St. Bonaventure last fall, GW fell 2-1 after surrendering a goal in the game’s 76th minute and failing to retaliate. The loss and its consequences have provided an added sense of urgency for the Colonials’ senior players, Stadler said, adding that he and his teammates have been playing together for the last few weeks to rekindle their chemistry and prepare for the upcoming season.
“We’re all used to each other,” he said. “So we know what we want to do.”
As for his individual goals, he stressed the importance of staying healthy. He said he has been running distances of two to three miles two or three times a week since last season’s conclusion in November, hoping to enter this season in better condition than he had in seasons past.
His offseason included two months training with teammate Nikolay Aleksandrov and other college standouts at a youth soccer program in Michigan. Local favoritism limited his playing time, he said, but it only drove him to work harder on his own accord.
While those running the Michigan camp may not have taken notice of his skills, opposing teams have certainly come to notice the threat he provides on offense. But will his placement on the watch list do him more harm than good, prompting extra attention from those charged with defending him?
If it does, it won’t be anything new.
“At the end of last year, people started man-marking me, they started playing differently,” Stadler said. “So I don’t think anything’s going to change really.”
“I’ll be the same,” he said. “Just go out there and try to win and score.”
Stadler and the Colonials open their season next Wednesday against American in the D.C. College Cup, hosted by George Mason in Fairfax, Va.