The senior defensive center back and co-captain is spearheading a Fords’ defense this fall that gave up the fewest goals in the Inter-Ac last year. Haverford School soccer head coach Dan Keefe said, “Kieran embodies the toughness and grit that should define our Haverford defense this year. As a captain, men follow him because they know that he’ll leave everything out on the pitch for his squad.” Off the pitch, the Drew University commit is a member of Haverford School’s Ultimate team and Student Council.
Q: How do you see your role as a team leader – on the field as a defensive center back, and off the field as a team captain in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: As a leader I feel that it is extremely important to lead by example both on and off the field. On the field I feel that I am able to give direction and command, while simultaneously creating a strong bond with my teammates that builds chemistry and leads us to success. During the pandemic it is certainly more challenging to create that sense of brotherhood from a distance, but I feel that my teammates and I have embraced the restrictions and are able to make the best of a bad situation.
Q: Tell us a little about your soccer training since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. What have you found to be the biggest challenge to your training during the pandemic, and how did you handle that?
A: Since the start of the pandemic, training has looked a little different. When we first started training, it was non-contact sessions with mainly individual ball work and fitness. It was difficult to create game-like situations in that environment, but fitness and individual ball skills are fundamentals of the game. The biggest challenge is definitely not being able to play as many games as we normally would. Practice is fun, but I always look forward to game day.
Q: Have you always played a back position? What sparked your original interest in the back position? Who have been your biggest soccer mentors, and what was the most important thing you learned from each one?
A: I haven’t always played in the back line. It was only a few years ago when I switched clubs to Penn Fusion SA did I start playing in the back. Before, I would play in the midfield normally as a 6 or an 8. I love getting stuck in for tackles, which is what initially sparked my interest in the back line. My dad, who was my first real soccer coach, taught me the fundamentals of the game from a young age, work ethic and a strong attitude. Zac Tassone, who is now the girls’ ECNL director at FC Delco, gave me my first leadership role as captain of our U-14 team. He set high expectations for me as a player and a person, and taught me how to be an effective leader. Finally Jonathan Rhodes, who now coaches at NY Red Bulls Academy, is a coach who really pushed me to my best. He always demanded 100 percent from all of his players, which truly pushed me to improve as a player.
Q: You are spearheading a defense that gave up the fewest goals in the Inter-Ac last fall. What do you think is the strongest aspect of your game? What part of your game are you working on the most currently?
A: I think the strongest aspect of my game is my knowledge of the game and my mentality when I play. I understand positioning and am able to give my teammates direction. As for my mentality, I feel that I am always willing to put my body on the line to stop a shot or make a tackle. I am always looking to improve, however. I am constantly working on my touch and my passing. I feel that it is extremely important to work on the fundamentals of the game before doing anything else.
Q: Tell us a little about your pre-game preparation the day of a game.
A: Every game day I always get a little anxious. I can’t help but get butterflies in my stomach. Unlike most people, I don’t put in headphones on the way to the game. Instead, I like to talk to my parents about anything and everything. I have found that this always puts me in a calm state of mind, and prepares me to perform at my best. I always treat warm-ups like the game. I believe that a strong team warm up will lead to a strong team performance. This always puts me in the right frame of mind.
Q: You wear uniform jersey No. 16 for Haverford School – why did you pick this number?
A: This number is very important not only to myself, but to my whole family. Each one of my siblings wears No. 16 when they play. I think we all got inspiration from watching our dad’s games growing up, who would always wear No. 16. He got his inspiration from the great Roy Keane, former Manchester United captain, who also wore No. 16. Keane was tough and gritty, and never accepted anything less than one hundred percent. He has many great leadership qualities that I admire, and I can see why he inspired my dad so much.
Q: What particularly attracted you to Drew University? What do you think you might want to major in at Drew? Is there a career field that particularly interests you at the present time?
A: What attracted me to Drew University from a soccer aspect was the team dynamic, the style of play, and the success of the program. After talking to coach Lenny Armuth, he highlighted how much they value possession and good style of play, which immediately attracted me to the program. I was able to contact one of the current players and he talked about how great the team dynamic is, which is also super important to me. I am planning to major in Molecular Biology, which has always been an interest of mine. At the present time I am interested in attending medical school and becoming a doctor.
Fun facts – Kieran Bradley
Favorite TV show: Peaky Blinders.
Favorite movie: The Shawshank Redemption.
Favorite athlete: Cristiano Ronaldo.
Favorite pre-game pump-up song: Whole Lotta Rosie – AC/DC.
Favorite team: Manchester United.
Favorite place to visit: Ireland.
Favorite pre-game meal: Bacon, egg and cheese Sizzli from Wawa.
Person I most admire, and why: “I admire Cristiano Ronaldo because he came from so little but was able to make a life for himself and his family through hard work and dedication. His passion and love for the game is something I admire as well.”
Family members: parents Ben and Ann Marie, sister Deirdre, brothers Brendan and Stephen, dog Faelan.
(To be selected for Main Line Boys Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by his coach.)