It can be tough sitting on the sidelines watching your team play, unable to be on the pitch. That competitive spirit makes you wish you could be out there, getting stuck with your teammates and fighting for a win.
But Union Academy product Andrew Aprahamian is taking his redshirt freshman season in stride, doing everything he can to grow his game at the collegiate level.
"This year, for me, has been a huge learning experience," Aprahamian said. "With the intensity and work rate these seniors show, it's obvious why the success has come."
Stanford is in the midst of a rarely-seen College Cup run. The Cardinal have won back-to-back national championships, and are now in the semifinals and just two wins away from a third championship. If that goal is achieved, Stanford would become the first team to three-peat since Virginia won four consecutive titles from 1991-1995.
That kind of excellence has made Aprahamian's redshirt season one to remember. While he can't play in games, Aprahamian can practice and travel with the team, which has allowed him to adapt to the college game easier and improve his soccer skills.
"It's been amazing to watch the guys," Aprahamian said. "They come out no matter what game it is, no matter what team it is, with the same preparation, same intensity level. With that hard work and leadership they've shown, it's really given me a template I can build off of for the future."
By redshirting his freshman season, Aprahamian has been able to slowly transition into college soccer and give himself plenty of time to get game ready for next season. However, Aprahamian says his transition has been easier than expected because of his time at the Philadelphia Union Academy.
"The Union, for me, really the professionalism in the facilities and the coaching staff prepared me really well for this environment," Aprahamian said. "It really prepared me equally for the preparation we do at Stanford. It's a very similar environment."
Aprahamian competed with the Philadelphia Union Academy for four seasons, playing from the U14s to the program's U18s squad. During his time with the Academy, Aprahamian was a team captain for three seasons, with the U14s, U16s, and U18s. He also competed in the Generation adidas Cup, went to the US Soccer Developmental Championships, and competed in the id2 International Tour de Spain, where he competed against academies such as Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Now with Stanford, Aprahamian returns back home for one of his biggest tournaments to date. While he won't be playing, Aprahamian still will train at in the facilities he dreamed of playing at when he was in the Academy just a short time ago. When he walks through that tunnel and out to the bench at Talen Energy Stadium, it won't be a memory he soon forgets.
"This is something that in the beginning of the year, I saw it was planned out to be in Philadelphia for the final four," Aprahamian said. "This opportunity is something I'm going to cherish for sure, seeing family a little sooner than expected. Growing up with the Union, it's going to be something special."