PHILADELPHIA – The University of Pennsylvania men’s soccer team will have three captains leading the way this fall with the announcement of Alec Neumann, Matt Poplawski and James Rushton as tri-captains by head coach Rudy Fuller.
“Alec, Matt, and James are great representatives of Penn Soccer. Each of them is fully committed to our team’s success on and off the field,” said Fuller. “They are young men of high character, a strong work ethic, and a passion for the Red and Blue. When the time came to determine our team captains for the 2015 season, our team spoke loud and clear, and I couldn’t agree more. I am confident that these three will serve our program well and lead us to great heights in the year ahead.”
Alec Neumann, a two-time second-team All-Ivy selection, has appeared in 35 matches through his first two seasons with the Quakers, making 30 starts. He has scored 13 goals and added nine assists through two seasons at forward for the Red and Blue, leading the Quakers with 21 points in 2014. In 2013, he led all Ivy League rookies with 14 points.
“Alec made an immediate impact on our program when he arrived in 2013, and he has continued to develop on and off the field over the past two years,” Fuller said. “He has established himself as a key member of our team and has earned the respect of his teammates through his strong work ethic, his will to win, and his goal scoring ability.”
Neumann sees his selection as a great opportunity to carry on the tradition of the program.
“It is a privilege and an honor to be named a captain of the Penn Soccer program,” he said. “This is such a historically strong soccer program that has had many quality players chosen as captain. I am confident that James, Matt and I can honor the tradition of this program and help lead the team to a successful season.”
Matt Poplawski has appeared in 34 matches over his two seasons at midfield for the Quakers, recording 24 starts. A central midfielder, Poplawski logged 1,426 minutes in 2014 – going the distance in 12 of 16 appearances. In 2013, Poplawski was named honorable mention All-Ivy, tallying two goals and two assists while seeing time in all 18 matches – including starts in all seven Ivy contests. In addition to his soccer efforts, Poplawski is a member of the men’s basketball team where he has appeared in 21 games and made three starts at guard.
“Pops is a winner,” said Fuller. “He is the consummate competitor in whatever he is doing. He sets a tremendous example for his teammates in the locker room, during training sessions, and in games. His tireless approach and unending energy are infectious. He instills confidence in those around him and leads from the front by setting a standard for others to follow.”
Poplawski is thankful for the opportunity to don the arm band for his club this fall, saying, “I’m very humbled to be selected as captain for the upcoming season. I am extremely happy for James and Alec who are quite deserving of their selection. It means a lot to me that my teammates and coaches see me as one of our leaders and I can’t wait for the season to begin.”
James Rushton has appeared in nine matches over his three seasons with the Quakers. In 2014, Rushton was having his finest season as a collegian – appearing in six matches with two starts while recording an assist from his midfield spot – before a season-ending injury at Cornell halted his campaign.
“Despite seeing limited time on the field to this point of his career, there can be no denying James’s importance to our team,” said Fuller. “He is the quintessential leader. He expects a great deal from himself and never shirks responsibility. He cares deeply about our team and his teammates have the utmost trust in his leadership. His impact on the field isn’t captured in the stats, but one look at our record before and after his injury last year tells the story.”
The lone senior among the three captains, Rushton appreciates the opportunity to leave his mark in his final season.
“It makes me very proud to be named a captain of the Penn soccer team,” Rushton said. “Knowing the history of the this team and all of the impressive captains who have come before me, I feel fortunate to be able to serve as captain during my last season. I am looking forward to joining Pops and Neumann to form a strong leadership group as we strive towards another Ivy title.”
The Quakers begin the 2015 season on September 4 against Washington at Rhodes Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.