M Soccer 1.24.18

Senior Spotlight: Men’s Soccer Midfielder Colin Stripling

The college soccer career of senior midfielder Colin Stripling came to a close as he and the Monmouth men’s soccer team ended their season with a 4-0 win over Niagara at Hesse Field on the Great Lawn on Nov. 1.

Stripling finished his time at Monmouth having played in 71 matches and starting in 67 of them, accumulating 15 goals and nine assists along the way. He also collected a host of individual awards, such as being named in the 2013 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) All-Rookie Team, the 2016 All-MAAC Second Team, and the 2017 Preseason All-MAAC Team.

In addition, the 2015 season saw Stripling earn MAAC Player of the Week, Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Offensive Player of the Week, and College Soccer News National Team of the Week recognition for his efforts in Monmouth’s 4-1 win over Seton Hall on Sept. 22. This past season, Stripling added a final MAAC Offensive Player of the Week honor to his resume on Sept. 25 for his two goals against Hartford.

However, Stripling’s thoughts on his individual accomplishments serve as an excellent summary of who he is as both a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I soccer player and as a person. “It is always great to be recognized, but I would not have been a recipient of any of those accolades if it wasn’t for the other ten players next to me on the pitch,” he said.

Stripling’s desire to put his teammates before himself was just one of many qualities that attracted Monmouth Head Coach Robert McCourt to recruit the midfielder to join the Monmouth soccer program. “We saw Stripling playing with his club team that one of my friends was coaching at the time,” said McCourt. “We loved his hard-working, blue collar, everyday approach. He is a bit of a throwback in terms of his work ethic and commitment to doing the little things.”

While Stripling was initially noticed by McCourt while he was plying his trade with the PDA Harkes Club Team, the New Jersey native played a key role on his team at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School. He finished his senior year of high school as a 2012 National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) First Team All-American and as the Star-Ledger New Jersey State Player of the Year. He was included in the 2012 Star-Ledger First Team All-State and led Scotch Plains-Fanwood to a No. 5 ranking in The Star-Ledger Top 20 that year.

“I decided on Monmouth because of the location. I wanted to be close enough to home so that my parents would be able to watch me play,” Stripling said. “The coaching staff here at Monmouth also made it very desirable to continue my soccer career.” Stripling’s favorite non-soccer related quality about Monmouth is how close it is to Asbury Park.

Stripling’s position on the pitch is in the center of midfield. He is what is known as a box-to-box midfielder, a player who has a high work rate and is equally adept in dropping back to help his teammates defend as he is at creating attacking chances on the other end of the field.

“Stripling’s style of play is to outwork and outcompete every player that he is playing against,” said McCourt. “He is great at going forward, taking players on, and getting into dangerous positions in the attacking third. He is a tremendous ball-winner when he is defending and he is an aerial presence on both sides of the ball.”

Stripling’s transition from high school/club soccer to Division I college soccer as a freshman was not as tough for him as he initially expected. “However, the competition went from kids my age to grown men. This forced me to have to play quicker,” he said.

The midfielder was selected to be in the starting lineup for 18 games during his freshman campaign. Stripling attributed his quick successes to the high level of soccer he experienced while playing for Scotch Plains-Fanwood and PDA while in high school.

During the summer going into his sophomore year of college, Stripling broke a bone in his left foot while playing club soccer in an attempt to keep himself fit ahead of the upcoming fall season at Monmouth. He said, “I did not realize that my foot was in fact broken, so I kept trying to play on it until I realized that I needed rest if I wanted to get better.”

Stripling went on to make five appearances for the Hawks early on that season before he was faced with a big decision. “I was not able to compete at a level that I knew I was able to perform at, so talking with Coach McCourt we made the decision it would be best for me to take the year off,” he said. Stripling became a redshirt athlete and watched from the bench as his teammates won the 2014 MAAC Championship Final over Fairfield.

The following season the Hawks, this time with Stripling in their ranks, made it to the MAAC Championship Final once again, but fell in defeat to Rider.

While Stripling’s final two seasons did not consist of as much success as the previous few, he was named captain of the team ahead of the 2017 term.

Senior defender Joey Gudzak, who played alongside Stripling for four years, believes that the midfielder displayed all of the essential qualities of a captain. “Strip is always bringing the intensity and holds himself accountable to play at a high level. He plays with that 110 percent attitude that makes you want to go just as hard as him,” he said. “Strip knows how to keep us together and focused by not only saying what the team needs to hear but also by playing his heart out.”

“Strip was an off-the-radar recruit who came in and earned everything he achieved,” said McCourt. “He broke into the lineup as a freshman unexpectedly and became one of the better players we have ever had. He is a fantastic student, which comes first, and a fantastic role model for those looking to make their way in college soccer.”

Although Stripling has majored in business finance with a minor in leadership communication during his time at Monmouth, he hopes to take his soccer career beyond college. He said, “I want to be able to wake up every morning to say that I kick a soccer ball for a living.”