After Wrapping Up Superb Career for Vassar Men’s Soccer, PHS Alum Goldsmith Playing for U.S. in Maccabiah Games
GOING FOR GOLD: Andrew Goldsmith goes after the ball in a 2016 game during his senior season for the Princeton High boys’ soccer team. After wrapping up a superb career for the Vassar College men’s soccer team last fall, Goldsmith is currently in Israel playing for the U.S. open men’s soccer team in the Maccabiah Games. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Last fall, Andrew Goldsmith enjoyed a superb senior season for the Vassar College men’s soccer team.
The former Princeton High standout served as a team captain for the Brewers, helping the squad go 11-4-2, earning United Soccer Coaches Division III All-Region third team and All-Liberty League Honorable Mention honors in the process.
“It was my last season and it was definitely my favorite season; it was a combination of doing well record-wise but it was also the playing style,” said Goldsmith, a 6’0 defensive midfielder.
“It is keeping the ball moving, the one and two touch approach that fit my playing style. I was able to help the rest of the guys and we were all able to mold to that system and win games by playing the right soccer. That is the best feeling of it all. I have never been one to care for accolades but I felt like I had my best season and getting honored as an all-regional player was a great feeling as well.”
This month, Goldsmith is savoring another honor as he is playing for the U.S. open men’s team at the 21st Maccabiah Games in Israel to get his last taste of competitive soccer.
“To be able to wear the USA jersey and compete against other countries is a dream come true,” said Goldsmith. “It is something I have aspired to do for a while now. One of the reasons I chose Vassar was that I believed I would get a lot of playing time and be a leader right away. I got four years of playing soccer and I wanted to make the most of it. To be able to have this final encompassing soccer event is going to be an extremely incredible experience.”
In reflecting on his initial soccer experience at Vassar, Goldsmith faced some challenges in getting up to speed at the college level.
“I would say the biggest jump from high school or club to college is the physicality and athleticism of the competition,” said Goldsmith. “More so than that something I picked up on quickly is that technically your speed of play had to be very, very strong, especially if you are a player like myself who is not going to go out there and be the most athletic kid. I had to make up for that by being able to play extremely quickly with one and two touch technical ability. Also one of the main differences between the two levels is just being communicative with your teammates. Guys are keeping each other more accountable at the college level. You feel like there is more to play for when you are playing in that group.”
Goldsmith views his sophomore season for the Brewers as transformative.
“I grew into that role both as a player and as a leader,” said Goldsmith, who ended up serving as a team captain in both his junior and senior seasons. “I stepped into a massive leadership role. Even the seniors on the team were looking to me for advice where to go in terms of playing style and communication. Sophomore year was a huge year for me in terms of that.”
After taking leave from school in the fall of 2020, Goldsmith was fired up to return to the pitch last fall.
“I was looking forward to my last college season which I thought was going to have a year prior to that so the excitement was only pushed back farther,” said Goldsmith, who started all 17 games at the midfield in 2021, leading the team with 1378 minutes played, helping the defense to a league-low 12 goals against (0.71 per game), and scoring his first career goal on a penalty shot in the 1-0 win over New Paltz.
“Everyone else on the team had that same buildup and excitement and hunger for a season. To make matters even more intense, the majority of our team at that point had never played a college game and never been through a full season. My buddy Austin Lukasik and I were the only fifth year seniors so it wasn’t like we had a huge fifth year senior class who can kind of lead it. There was a good group of seniors as well as the juniors.”
While Goldsmith made a lot of progress as a player during his college career, he grew more as a leader.
“I think throughout my four years I realized that the best leaders are ones that can drive a team with their words, but also drive a team through their actions,” said Goldsmith. “It is being the first guy in the locker room, being the first guy in the weight room and being the last guy to leave. That was always something that I tried hard to do through my years there and really motivate guys. Whether it was in the classroom, or on or off the field, I always tried to be the best person and the best athlete for younger guys. I wanted them to be able to come to me for questions. I don’t think any college experience could be smooth sailing. You learn a lot and most about yourself when you go through the hurdles.”
In order to make the U.S. open squad for the Maccabiah Games, Goldsmith had to jump through some hurdles. The program held tryout camps on the East and West Coast last summer. The East Coast tryout was held as Drew University and Goldsmith showed up, figuring it was worth a shot despite stiff competition.
“It was definitely a very strenuous three days, the group was a wide array of D-I, D-II, and D-III players,” said Goldsmith, noting that there was one session on Friday night, two on Saturday, and two on Sunday.”
“There was good competition there. I knew I was in the top handful of guys but I also knew that this open team is always strong. We are coming in at the No 1 overall seed and we have won the Maccabiah Games the previous two times in Israel. It usually has professional or soon to be professional guys. It is majority of D-I players.”
In September, Goldsmith learned that he had made the squad.
“I got the email and I was definitely extremely excited,” said Goldsmith, noting that he is only one of three D-III players on the squad which includes D-I performers from such programs as Yale, Stanford, Fairfield, and Lafayette. “I knew I had proven I was a good player but this is a notch up from Vassar I would say. Many years ago I had the dream to do this.”
Over the last year, the U.S. squad has held Zoom meetings to bond and then held a training camp in Los Angeles last month to prepare for the Games, which are taking place from July 12-26.
“That was the first time I had met everyone, there were only two or three guys from the East Coast tryout who made it so there were a lot of guys from the West Coast and also some guys who weren’t able to attend the other tryouts because they are really quality players,” said Goldsmith.
“I was nervous leading up to the camp. When I got the camp, my nerves completely calmed. Sports is such a mental game. Once you can prove it to yourself, it is much easier to prove it to everyone around you. Just being in warmups and getting a few touches on the ball and passing with the other guys, my confidence just grew and grew throughout the week. To make matters even better. I really enjoyed being around everyone on the team. We had team meals together.”
Goldsmith has also enjoyed being around the U.S. team’s head coach, Michael Erush, who guides Cal State LA’s men’s soccer team.
“His coaching style seems similar to my college coach in the sense that he is a very communicative guy,” said Goldsmith, who sees himself filling a defensive midfielder role for the U.S. squad. “He is going to be very honest with you and tell you what he needs you to do to get playing time and help the team. We have had open conversations throughout this past year which has only helped me compete for a spot and help the team compete for gold as well.”
Competing in Maccabiah Games will also mark Goldsmith’s first trip to Israel and he is looking forward to the off-the-field activities, which features Israel Connect, a cultural and educational program for the athletes.
“Everyone who has gone there has the most
incredible things to say,” said Goldsmith, noting that the U.S. team will be based in Jerusalem during the competition which brings together 10,000 athletes from 85 countries taking part in 45 sports. “I know what an incredible experience it is going to be. I am not going to take it for granted, I am extremely excited.”
For Goldsmith, the journey to Israel is a natural outgrowth of his time at Vassar.
“I have loved my experience at Vassar and how much I have learned,” said Goldsmith, who will be starting a job with management consulting firm, ZS Associates, in New York City upon his return from the Games. “I have grown a lot. I have grown in the sense that I am much more aware as a person. One of the reasons I wanted to go to Vassar was its diverse environment that would allow me to gain an ability of being aware of my surroundings and get to know people of different backgrounds.”