Growing up in Dublin, Ireland, soccer is not only embedded into most kids from a young age, it is a way of life. Vanguard University’s junior forward, Kevin Cornwall, started playing at the age of four years old and since then, knew that it would continue to be a part of the equation. As he got older, he continued to play for both school and club teams. Cornwall’s list of achievements began to stack up once he hit high school, when he became the teams’ top goal scorer. While playing for Belvedere College in Dublin, he was MVP.
In 2006, at the age of 17, Cornwall joined St. Patrick’s Athletic, a professional Irish League team.“When I first came on [the team] I felt nervous, but soon adapted. The skill level and intensity of those games were far superior to what I was used to so I had to adjust fairly quickly. It was an amazing experience,” Cornwall said.
Although Cornwall enjoyed the three years he spent in the Irish league, he knew he wanted to experience something different.
“I always knew I wanted to come to America and experience the life and culture here,” he said. “So I started applying to schools in California because I knew that this was where I wanted to be.”
Initially, Cornwall applied to several NCAA Division I schools but quickly found out that because he had played professionally in Ireland, NCAA rules deemed that he was ineligible for a scholarship and would have to sit out two years before being allowed to play.
He knew that wasn’t what he wanted.
“I started to write to many different NAIA schools in California because I knew the rules were more lenient and that I would only have to sit out for one year. After writing and explaining my situation, I was able to catch the eye of Vanguard, and they gave me the best offer. That’s how I ended up here,” he said.
Cornwall had to make an adjustment when he switched from Irish League to American soccer.
“It’s much different from back home; it has a lot more to do with the physical here, rather than the technical. Back home, things are much more fast-paced and technical.”
After sitting out of the 2009 season, Kevin was then allowed to play in 2010 and quickly established himself on the team, solidifying a starting spot as a sophomore. The 2010 Season was one of the most successful seasons in Vanguard History. The Lions went 9-1 in conference play, won the GSAC Championship, and even went onto compete in NAIA National Tournament.
Kevin played an instrumental role in making this happen, leading the conference in 16 goals and 8 game-winning goals. This earned him the honors of not only being selected as a First-Team All American but as the GSAC Player of the Year.
After such a successful season last year, Cornwall has high hopes for this year’s team.
“For my junior year, as far as the team aspect goes, I would love to win back-to-back GSAC titles and make it back to Nationals. We lost a lot of players from last year, so we are basically a new team, just trying to get it together and play well. For myself, I hope to most importantly stay healthy, and perform and give it my all, 100 percent, every game.”
Cornwall has considered whether or not he wants to play after college.
“I want to play soccer as long as I can,” he said. “If I got the opportunity to play professionally I would love it, but that’s not all I want to do. I would love to be a teacher and a coach, give back what soccer has given to me, and show kids the fun aspects of the game.”