Dudek, a senior forward/midfielder and captain of the Episcopal Academy boys’ soccer team, is leading the Churchmen (13-5-3, 5-2-1 InterAc as of Monday) in scoring with 12 goals. Dudek scored the winning goal against Haverford School Oct. 18 – it was the first time in approximately 10 years that the Churchmen had beaten the Fords. Outside of EA, the Davidson College-bound senior plays for the highly-successful Penn Fusion soccer club program. EA boys’ soccer head coach David Knox said, “Quinn is a worker who makes good things happen all over the field, and inspires those around him with his work ethic. He shoulders a lot of responsibility and has very high expectations of himself and what others need to bring not only to games but to practice. In his four years on varsity he has seen a lot and knows how special and important this year is. He takes the responsibility of captain very seriously and wants to bring the Inter-Ac League title back, which we last won in 1995, 21 years ago.”
Q: You mentioned that scoring the winning goal against Haverford School is the highlight of your EA soccer career to date, as the Churchmen had not beaten the Fords in approximately 10 years. Can you describe how the play unfolded, and your role in it?
A: My teammate Nick Wallick cleared the ball out of our half and over Haverford’s back line, which I read well and was able to use my speed to get past the center back and arrive to the ball first. I hadn’t taken my first touch yet when I realized the goalie was off of his line, and I took a huge risk and half-volleyed it over the keeper from 30-35 yards out instead of dribbling the ball closer to the net to get a more high percentage shot. It paid off and dropped into the back of the net.
Q: Playing both midfielder and forward, what attributes do you feel you have that make you best suited to each position?
A: The position I play for each game depends on what injuries we have sustained and what style of play we need to play to win the game. At center midfield it gives me more ability to set the tempo and take control of the game because I play both sides of the ball, defense and offense. Every part of the field is more accessible as a center mid fielder. I have a wide range of passing that is crucial to be successful as a center mid fielder and I can join the attack very well in this position because of my experience as a forward. As a forward, my speed and agility are huge parts of my game. I love to take people on, especially in 1 v 1 situations, and get a shot off. Also, my technical ability, my dribbling, is what shines the most for me at forward, as many of my goals and assists began with me beating people off the dribble.
Q: What aspect of your game are you currently working on the most?
A: I am working on my free kick as Coach Knox has given me the important responsiility of taking those kicks. I have had a few opportunities to take free kicks around the box but I have not put one in yet, but each time I take one I get closer and closer to finishing one. I have never really taken free kicks before this season, but I will take what I have learned to Davidson College next fall and continue to grow.
Q: Tell us a little about your experience with Penn Fusion soccer. What has been your most memorable experience with Penn Fusion?
A: Participating in the Penn Fusion Club Soccer program has been clearly my greatest experience. I play alongside some of the most talented youth soccer players in the country, pushing me to be the greatest I can be on the soccer field. I don’t have a most memorable moment with Penn Fusion because my whole career has been so much fun. We have been an exremely successful club team over my time with them, winning five state cups in a row, two regional championships, and going to the US Youth Soccer National Championship Series twice, receiving third place one of those two times.
Q: Tell us a little about your pre-game preparation the day of a game.
A: Before every game, the team, along with the coaches, discusses what strategies we will use and what weaknesses we want to exploit for our opponent. We do most of our mental preparation there where we get fired up and think about our roles in the upcoming game. After that, for warm ups on the field, we do the same thing for every game, a long stretch, possession games, and then shooting. Then, just before the game, we huddle up and put our arms around each other and Coach Knox and Coach Hark gives us one more little pep talk to get our heads straight and to get our energy up.
Q: You wear uniform jersey No. 2 for EA soccer. Is there a reason you chose that number?
A: I wear No. 2 becuase, first, I prefer small numbers, and second, becuase I use to wear that number when I played basketball. I had to quit [basketball]; however, because playing for Penn Fusion is a big committment and takes up much of my time. Basketball is my favorite sport along with soccer so wearing No. 2 represents my past with basketball.
Q: Who is your favorite soccer player? Is there a player whose game you try to emulate?
A: Although it may be a little cliché, Lionel Messi is my favorite soccer player, and I try to emulate his game. He has an amazing range of passes he showcases every game along with his incredible dribbling skills. It seems like Messi never does any flashy moves like rainbows or scissors because he uses his speed and agility to his advantage, whereas doing these flashy moves may slow him down because he is already quicker than everyone else on the field. Although I don’t have Messi’s quickness, that is how I view myself on the field.
Q: Who have been your biggest soccer mentors, and what was the most important thing you learned from each one?
A: My biggest soccer mentors are my club soccer coach Mark Thomas and my dad. Coach Mark deserves almost all the credit regarding my touch and dribbling as he developed my technical ability over the past 7-8 years. Coach Mark always keeps me up to date about how I am playing and what I can do differently and what I can work on. He was one of the few people I called for advice before I verbally committed to Davidson. My dad also is a big mentor because, although he never played soccer, he understands the tactical side of soccer. He helps me understand where I want the ball at specific times, who I want to give the ball to and what I should do with the ball in tough positions. I also owe a lot to Coach Knox and Coach Hark, my coaches at EA, because in addition to my athletic style of play, they helped me learn how to play as a leader. Hopefully I can finish my EA soccer career with an Inter Ac chamipionship because Coach Knox and Coach Hark deserve it.
Q: Why did you choose Davidson – what other college were in the running? What do you think you might like to major in? Is there a career path that particularly interests you at the present time?
A: I chose Davidson for a variety of reasons. Davidson is a great academic school, so being able to play Divison 1 soccer while attending one of the best academic schools in the country will be an amazing experience that I believe will put me in the best position for success in the future. Besides Davidson, the schools that I strongly considered for college soccer were Washington University in St. Louis, High Point, University of Mary Washington, and Virginia Tech. I plan on majoring in finance at Davidson, as well as minoring in computer science. Davidson is just a half hour from Charlotte, a major financial center, with many banking institutions located there. Hopefully, I can land an internship in Charlotte during my time at Davidson and then continue my career there after I graduate.
Q: Do you participate in any other sports or extracurricular activities at EA? What sparked your interest in each of these activities?
A: In the past I played lacrosse, basketball, and track for EA, but I am undecided at the moment on whether or not I will play any of these sports during my senior year. I joined the astronomy club last year which was fun because we talked about a lot of very intriguing hypotheticals and theories about space and extraterrestrial life.
Fun facts – Quinn Dudek
Favorite book: Liar’s Poker.
Favorite author: Michael Lewis.
Favorite TV show: Game of Thrones.
Favorite movie: The Big Short.
Favorite athlete: Kyrie Irving.
Favorite pre-game pump-up song: X by 21 Savage.
Favorite team: Philadelphia Eagles.
Favorite place to visit: Avalon, N.J.
Favorite pre-game meal: Peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Favorite color: Orange.
Person I most admire: “My Dad because he sets the perfect example for me as the hardest-working person I know. He is relentless with his work ethic and provides everything I need in terms of support, guidance and feedback.”
Birth date: Oct. 1, 1998 in West Chester.
Family members: Parents Colleen and Rich, brothers Clay, Tristan and Brock.
(To be selected as Main Line Boys Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by his coach.)