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Union with strong ties in 2017 College Cup Tournament

The 2017 College Cup tournament is set to begin Thursday, which features 48 teams across Division-I men's soccer all competing for the College Cup. The champion will be crowned at Talen Energy Stadium December 10, and there's a decent chance the winning team could feature someone with close ties to the Philadelphia Union organization. 

Among the hundreds of players competing in the College Cup, 17 players rose through the ranks of the Union Academy before furthering their education in college, 13 of which graduated from YSC Academy. Those 17 players play for more 13 different teams, meaning there is a 27 percent chance a former member of the Union Academy hoists the College Cup on the field they aspired to one day play on. 

Perhaps the best team to win the College Cup with a former Union Academy player would be the top-ranked Wake Forest. But the Demon Deacons don't just feature one Union Academy product, but rather three; freshmen Mark McKenzie and Justin McMaster and sophomore Joey DeZart.

McKenzie made 13 appearances at defense for Wake Forest his freshman year, including two starts, playing more than 400 minutes. He was a part of the sixth-ranked defense in NCAA soccer, as his significant playing time with Bethlehem Steel FC and with the U-18 US Men's National Team made him an important part of the defense. 

McMaster and DeZart, meanwhile, was a part of the second-ranked offense in NCAA soccer. McMaster made 17 appearances for the Demon Deacons, where he scored two goals and three assists. As for DeZart, he also made 17 appearances, but made 14 starts on the midfield. He chipped in an assist in 207, his first collegiate point. 

Dartmouth and Virginia also boast having more than one Union Academy product on their team. Dartmouth, ranked No. 15 in the tournament, have freshman Dawson McCartney and Tiger Graham on their roster. McCartney made 16 appearances for Dartmouth, starting in 13 games, and made a significant impact on the team in his first season. He led the Big Green in assists, and had the most points of any freshman on the team. As for Graham, he also appeared in all four games, but started only four. He chipped in two goals, which tied McCartney for the most among the freshman class. 

No. 11 Virginia's Union Academy ties are through Raheem Taylor-Parkes and Jerren Nixon. Taylor Parkes, a sophomore, made 13 appearances for the Cavaliers, six of which were starts. He scored two goals for Virginia, including a game-winning goal. Nixon, a sophomore forward, made 11 appearances, all off the bench, and chipped in an assist. 

Another significant player on his team is Sebastian Enley, the junior forward for Maryland. The Terripan made 18 appearances for Maryland, starting in 17 of those matches. Enley was second in the team in goals with five, and chipped in two assists through the season. Enley and Maryland will face off against Albany in the opening round of the tournament.

Other YSC graduates in the College Cup include:

  • No. 13 Michigan features sophomore goalkeeper Andrew Verdi, who started all 13 games for the Wolverines, finishing with a 7-4-2 record and a .708 goals-against average.
  • Sophomore midfielder Mohamed Conde plays for FIU, who will face Omaha in the first round. Conde made five appearances for the Panthers this season.
  • Brandon Golden made eight appearances and one start for the Fordham Rams, who battle St. Francis (Brooklyn) in the first round of the College Cup. 
  • No. 3 North Carolina rosters freshman defender Will Campbell, who made four appearances for the Tar Heels.
  • Campbell's brother Robert plays for No. 8 Clemson, who also appeared in four games, while adding an assist in 2017.

While 13 players graduated from YSC and went on to play collegiate soccer, four players in the field played for the Union Academy, but attended school outside of YSC. 

Morgan Hackworth attends No. 5 Akron, where the junior defender appeared in all 20 matches, making four starts and playing nearly 700 minutes during the season. No. 6 Duke has senior midfielder Noah Snyder on the roster, who played four matches for the Blue Devils. Senior defender Patrick Berneski plays for No. 12 Notre Dame, where he started all 18 games for the Fighting Irish, playing more than 1,600 minutes and scoring one goal. The final Union Academy product is Andrew Aprahamian, who plays for No. 9 Stanford.

There are also significant ties to the Union first team, as John Yaro and Keegan Rosenberry's alma mater of Georgetown is No. 14, and Akron claiming Adam Najem as an alumnus. 

The Philadelphia Union's footprint is all over the 2017 edition of the College Cup, even outside of it being the host location for the finals. And when the tournament is all said and done, there may just be a Union Academy product holding the trophy. 

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