Springdale’s Zolnierczyk ready to begin next chapter at Robert Morris

Friday, May 31, 2019 | 5:32 PM

Mike Zolnierczyk graduates Friday from Springdale High School.

One chapter will close while another continues to build for the Dynamos soccer and basketball standout who will continue his soccer pursuits at Division I Robert Morris.

“I’m extremely blessed to be in the situation I am in, being able to play the sport I love and get a great education at Robert Morris,” said Zolnierczyk, who chose the Colonials from offers that included Harvard and Duquesne.

“All the hard work has paid off, and there are so many people who did so much for me to get me to this point.”

Zolnierczyk, a four-year starter and All-WPIAL performer at goalkeeper for the Dynamos, surrendered just eight goals as a senior last fall and helped Springdale reach the WPIAL Class A semifinals.

He posted 14 shutouts and was voted the Class A Player of the Year.

As a junior, he recorded 12 shutouts and guided Springdale to the WPIAL Class A title game at Highmark Stadium and the second round of the PIAA playoffs.

While Zolnierczyk was producing in his final season with the Dynamos, he also was working through the final stages of the recruiting process.

Playing for the renowned Beadling Soccer Club also helped him get connected with the coaching staff at Robert Morris.

“I was an extremely late case for playing club soccer there, starting my sophomore year,” Zolnierczyk said. “A lot of the other kids who played out of Beadling had been playing since they were 7 or 8 years old. Jumping in that late, I was really fortunate it worked out that way.”

Zolnierczyk started talking to the Robert Morris coach after he saw him perform at a showcase.

“I contacted them and then went for my visit,” he said. “From the start, I felt like it was a great fit.”

Another Beadling alum and former Quaker Valley standout Winter Fondi wrapped up his RMU soccer career last fall and finished with 50 starts over three seasons for the Colonials.

Zolnierczyk said he is looking forward to what he feels is a good opportunity to compete for playing time right away.

“With the next two months to get ready, I want to work as hard as I can to make sure that happens,” he said.

Zolnierczyk plans to take a class or two this summer toward a business management and information systems course of study while continuing to train for the start of preseason camp in early August.

The hard work put in over the past several years is a byproduct, Zolnierczyk said, of the dedication of his father, Mike, a 1970 Springdale graduate who went on to play football at Saint Vincent.

“My father has done so much for me,” Zolnierczyk said. “He was my first coach for basketball, one of my coaches for soccer, and he coached baseball and flag football. He coached me in about six different sports. He always wanted to be involved and right there helping me become the best player I could be in whatever sport I played. He has supported me every step of the way, and I wouldn’t be here without him.”

A friendship between the elder Zolnierczyk and former Springdale goalkeeper Dave Fortun helped the latter connect with the younger Zolnierczyk as a volunteer mentor and coach on the pitch the past six years.

Fortun returned to Springdale 50 years after his time as a player for the Dynamos, and he said he’s excited to continue to work with the program for as long as possible.

“At 6-4 and about 195 pounds, Mike has the physical stature to go along with the athleticism,” said Fortun, the starting goalkeeper for Springdale’s second of two WPIAL boys championships in 1965.

“He always aspired to play Division I soccer, and now he’s going to get his opportunity. With his physical talents and his attitude towards sports, he has a great chance to do well at the college level.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .


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