St. John’s checks all boxes for Pine-Richland soccer standout Stephanie Cornelius

Sunday, July 31, 2022 | 8:47 PM

A couple of years ago, the coaching staff at Beadling SC told Stephanie Cornelius and her parents that she had the potential to be a future NCAA Division I soccer player.

“At the time, we were blown away and really didn’t believe it,” said Cornelius, an incoming senior at Pine-Richland.

It may have been a surprise, but it was also a motivator and Cornelius poured her efforts into soccer.

Sure enough, the offers came and Cornelius found her college home, committing to St. John’s on July 9.

“It’s really exciting,” Cornelius said. “I had just a couple criteria. I wanted to be near a city and play in a good conference. I thought the Big East was a good conference, so I was looking at a couple of schools there. When I was on my visit to St. John’s and talked to the coaches, it just felt like the right environment for me. I got to meet some of the players and watch a spring scrimmage game, so it was a good experience that solidified my decision.”

Cornelius is one of three girls from Pine-Richland committed to play Division I soccer. Ava Boyd (Michigan State) and Gianna Koss (Kentucky) are also D1 bound. Boyd and Koss made their commitments in the winter.

Cornelius’ commitment capped off a year-long recruitment by St. John’s. The staff scouted her at a national showcase in California last year.

“Last year on our California trip is when I first heard from them and then I talked to them throughout the year,” Cornelius said. “They came to a couple more showcases and were in California (in July) to see me most recently. That showcase in California last year was an important one for me. That’s where I was first able to generate some interest.”

Cornelius is a defensive midfielder for Beadling. She said she’ll be a midfielder at St. John’s but is unsure what her exact position will be.

She’s found a home in the midfield, which has allowed her to blossom as a player.

“A couple years ago, I hadn’t found my spot, but now that I’ve been playing the six, I feel like I’ve been doing a good job of connecting lines, advancing the ball, switching the field and playing long balls,” Cornelius said.

Cornelius, Koss and Boyd opted to forgo their high school seasons with the Rams last year to focus on club soccer and college showcase camps, but all three are slated to play this season.

They’ll provide a boost to a team that finished 5-10 last season but qualified for the postseason, falling 4-0 to Peters Township in the first round.

“I’m really excited for the fall,” Cornelius said. “Ava and Gianna are both really good players. Gianna is on my cup team (Beadling), so I’ve been keeping up with her process. Once we get everyone together, I think we’ll have a really solid team.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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