Mark Forrest’s statistics for his Hill School soccer career are impressive. Actually watching Forrest play is even more impressive.
Forrest is the type of player who is instantly noticeable on the soccer field, partially because of his 6-3 frame, but mostly because of his immense talent and tireless work rate. The Hill boys’ soccer team experienced unprecedented success throughout the past four seasons, with Forrest making significant contributions to the team’s accomplishments.
Lehigh University will be the next beneficiary of those talents after Forrest recently signed a National Letter of Intent to play for the Division I Mountain Hawks.
“It felt great to finally sign my NLI, as it was a goal of mine since I started playing soccer,’ Forrest said.
Though he has lived in Douglassville for several years, Forrest spent his early childhood in England. As is the norm in England, Forrest began playing the game at a very young age alongside his brother, Jamie, who graduated from The Hill in 2013. Shortly after his family settled in Douglassville, Forrest joined the Berks Soccer Academy and played up two age groups. During this time Forrest also attended The Wyndcroft School, a local K-8 school that sends many of its students to The Hill.
When Forrest arrived at The Hill as a freshman in the fall of 2011, his talent was slightly hindered by the physical immaturity that most young players face in varsity competition. Despite being undersized, Forrest played in all but one of the team’s matches that season and performed admirably in the midfield. He returned to campus the next fall noticeably bigger, and over the next three years Forrest developed into a player that possesses a rare combination of speed, skill, and strength.
During Forrest’s junior year, Hill head coach Chris Drowne paired him at striker with Colten Habecker, the 2013 Mercury Player of the Year and the Gatorade Pennsylvania Boys’ Soccer Player of the Year. The duo combined for more than 50 goals and helped lead the team to arguably the best season in program history, finishing 19-1 and winning both the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) and Pennsylvania Independent School Athletic Association (PAISAA) championships.
Many key players from The Hill’s 2013 team graduated, leaving some uncertainty about the team’s potential for success heading into the 2014 campaign. If Hill was going to win, it was going to have to come from a collective blue-collar work ethic rather than pure talent. Forrest, a team co-captain, rose to the challenge of insuring the team would continue its recent success. Despite often being shadowed or double-teamed, Forrest netted 18 goals and had 12 assists and either scored or assisted on 13 of the team’s 16 game-winning goals. The Hill won its second-consecutive PAISAA title and Forrest was named the Mercury’s 2014 Boys Soccer Player of the Year. Forrest finished his Hill career third in all-time goals with 50, first in assists with 29, and second in points with 129.
“Mark graduates as one of the most impactful players in program history,’ Drowne said. “Utilized in multiple areas of the pitch throughout his career, Mark can individually influence a match’s pace and outcome in a sport in which that is very difficult to do — this ability was especially evident this past season. As the truly great players do, Mark made all of his teammates better each day, in both practices and in matches, throughout his storied Hill career. He has the tools to succeed at the next level, and we look forward to tracking his college career.’
During Forrest’s four year career, The Hill registered 67 wins, 11 losses, and four draws, including three MAPL championships and two PAISAA championships. Forrest shared the first two league championships in 2011 and 2012 with his brother, Jamie, a special experience that he treasures.
“To win two championships with Jamie was great,’ Forrest said. “The second time around he was a team captain and held me to a pretty high standard, so it was definitely a good experience.’
In both of Forrest’s first two seasons, The Hill fell to Haverford School in the PAISAA championship game. The teams met for the third consecutive season in the 2013 PAISAA final and needed penalty kicks to decide a winner. Each of The Hill’s first three shooters scored and Hill goalkeeper Shaun Quinn stopped Haverford’s first and third shooters, meaning The Hill could win on its fourth shot. Forrest stepped to the spot with the PAISAA title on the line and delivered to give The Hill its first Independent School state crown.
“To be honest, I didn’t realize that my penalty could win the game until right before I was about to take it,’ Forrest recalled. “I just trusted my gut and shot the same way I had all year. To finally beat Haverford in the final was an unbelievable feeling.’
Outside of The Hill, Forrest plays for the Allentown-based Lehigh Valley United club team, a program that competes in several national tournaments throughout the year and is well-known amongst college coaches. In addition to Lehigh, Forrest considered several other Patriot League schools including The College of the Holy Cross, Bucknell University, and Lafayette College. Forrest knew Lehigh was his top choice after his visit.
“I knew Lehigh was where I wanted to go after my visit,’ Forrest said. “I like the school’s combination of strong academics and athletics, plus I loved the campus.’
Forrest was accepted into the university’s business school, though he has not officially decided whether or not he will pursue a business degree.
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