OHIO CITY, Oh - Fresh off a State and National Championship season, Ed Soeder will be representing the United States and Saint Ignatius High School in the Netherlands in July as he is a member of the USA Men's U18 National Team. Soeder will travel to Amsterdam for three matches over the course of a week that will feature teams from the Netherlands, Canada and Belgium.
"I found out a month ago that I made the team and was overcome with honor," says Soeder. "I have the good nerves with butterflies and am ready to play."
The call for Soeder came soon after May's National Championship victory over Gonzaga (DC). Assistant coach Robert Voth '88 got the news from the Team USA scout that Soeder made the National team roster. While the Wildcats were competing in Elkhart, Indiana, there were Team USA scouts at Moose Rugby Grounds analyzing the tremendous amount of Rugby talent.
"Couple of weeks after nationals, coach Voth gave me a call," explains Voth, "I don't think I have had a better phone call in my life; I was speechless. I feel so honored to be able to represent my country as an athlete and Saint Ignatius High School. I am beyond grateful for my coaches and teammates pushing me to get to this point."
"Ed's selection is a testament to his work ethic and grit. He was forced to miss the National Tournament in 2021 when he suffered an injury in the weight room that kept him out for the following football season," explains Head Rugby Coach Dan Arbeznik '00. "Ed has worked hard to get himself fit to get back on the field. When you have some of those injuries, there's as much of a psychological toll that one takes as much as the physical. Ed has pushed through all those obstacles and become more assertive on the other end."
Soeder will be heading to the Netherlands on Saturday, July 2 and will have a week of practice until the matches begin on July 9. Team USA will hold two-a-day style practices for the players to become acclimated to one another and understand the game plan before matching up with some of the world's best.
"As kids, we all dream of representing our country one day. Growing up watching the Olympics or a Soccer World Cup, there's that desire to be connected to something much bigger than oneself," says Arbeznik. "Playing for your country is about as big as that can get. It's an unbelievable honor and opportunity and I'm personally thrilled that Ed will be representing our school and our club when he's donning the Red, White, and Blue."
Not only is he representing his school and his country, but Soeder will also be representing Ohio, the only Ohioan to make the roster. Soeder will play alongside players from California, Connecticut, Texas, Utah, etc., including Gonzaga's Joseph Ries, who the Wildcats played in the 2022 National Championship. The full Team USA Roster can be found here.
"I am planning on taking notes on everything the Team USA Coaches teach us," Soeder says. "I hope to develop my game a ton for next season, learning the skills from other players internationally to make me and my teammates better for next season."
International play will begin on July 9 as Team USA will open against the Netherlands. On July 13, they will take on Canada and wrap up on July 16 vs. Belgium.
"On the selfish end of the spectrum, our club will be gaining a kid who's been exposed to some of the best players in the world. The speed, physicality and rugby IQs will be at a different level and we're looking forward to getting that injection of perspective into our ranks," Arbeznik explains. "Looking at this much wider lens, our coaches are our kids' biggest fans. Even if Ed never makes that leap to play professionally or go on to the Men's Senior Team, he will 100% be playing with and against kids who one day will. These relationships form who we are as people and get us out of our little bubbles and silos. This will be a remarkable experience that will play an enormous role in Ed's life. I couldn't be more excited for him and his family."
Soeder will continue as a dual-sport student-athlete when he returns from the Netherlands, as he is a member of the Saint Ignatius Football team in the fall. Soeder, who missed all of last season due to an injury, is primed for a return at the linebacker position for the Wildcats. Congratulations and safe international travels to Ed!