The senior striker tallied two goals in a recent 3-2 win against a powerful Lower Merion team that returned nine of 11 starters after a trip to the state quarterfinals last fall. Miller has been a productive scorer for the Raiders this fall, as they have posted a 7-0 record as of Nov. 8. Last fall, Miller was a key offensive component on a Radnor squad that posted a 13-3-3 record and received second team All-Main Line honors. Off the pitch, Miller is a sports writer for Radnor’s school paper, is a member of the school’s academic quiz team in the topics of sports and American history, and participates in Speakup, an organization that discusses timely, relevant topics, including mental health. Radnor boys’ soccer head coach Joe Caruolo said, “Matt has come a long way since his freshman year. Matt was always a very thoughtful and skilled player, but with his physical and mental growth combined with a coming to understanding about the importance of grit and resilience, he is now a weapon. Matt will only continue to grow.”
Q: Tell us a little about those two goals against Lower Merion and how those plays developed. What is your most vivid memory of that game?
A: My first goal was a classic high school soccer scrap goal. We were given a throw-in in a dangerous area after I failed a 1-on-1 move and the ball was poked out of bounds. I simply read the flight of the ball, and the flick and pounced on the back post for the goal. It truly was a team goal, which included our coach, Joe Caruolo, who yelled me to the back post before the play. My second goal came off my own corner kick. I had practiced corners earlier that day with some teammates and in warmups and was striking the ball horribly. After telling some teammates I wouldn’t take any corners, the adrenaline of the game pushed me to step to the spot. I served the ball in, it eventually popped back out and I took a touch to the top of the box and curled it into the far corner. My most vivid memory of the game happens to be the celebration of that second goal where I sprinted to the corner and was swarmed by all my teammates and the entire bench – a moment I will remember forever.
Q: How do you see your role as a team leader – on the field as a forward, and off the field in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: My role as a team leader and captain is even more important this year, dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. I try my best to cultivate a cohesive team leadership group, where anyone can step up and lead if their moment arises. I think mainly off the field, just advocating for our program to have the best possible season has been big. On the field, as a forward, leading the attack and just giving our team opportunities to put the ball in the back of the net. None of my individual success would be possible without the incredibly talented group of attackers we have this season.
Q: Tell us a little about your soccer training since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. What did you find to be the biggest challenge to your training during the first months of the pandemic, and how did you handle that?
A: Training with my club team was difficult as field availability was rare and everything was shut down. Being forced to stay home and get creative with my training fueled my urge to improve. My garage became my favorite part of the house, as I would train in there at least once a day. Whether it was soccer training, speed training or strength training I was always doing something. Additionally, my older brother, a very talented soccer player himself, helped motivate me to keep getting better and continue working.
Q: 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 part of my game is my ability to break down a defender off the dribble. I like to think no one can guard me one on one whenever I play in a game, which obviously isn’t true but it helps with my confidence. There are a lot of parts of my game that could use improvement, but I would say consistency is what I am working on most. Both on and off the ball, I would like to be more consistent in my level of play and effort.
Q: What are your soccer goals for the rest of the Radnor soccer season? What are your thoughts about Radnor’s abbreviated season (Central League-only competition, no PIAA postseason – Districts, States)?
A: I have always believed in the potential of this year’s team and I think if we keep playing well, and everyone stays bought into the process that the sky’s the limit. We stand at 7-0 in central league play, and I think there is nothing stopping us from running the table as long as we stay consistent and work harder every day. I was really disappointed in the Central League’s decision regarding playoffs. When 11 of 12 leagues participating in District 1 decide to go for playoffs, you have to question whether or not their decision was really the best thing for the kids. I also thought Radnor would take initiative and offer our team the best opportunity to succeed and make memories, but that failed to come to fruition as well. That being said, we really have made the most of our season.
Q: Have you always played forward? What sparked your original interest in the forward position?
A: I played center attacking midfielder for most of my soccer career due to my natural ability of setting my teammates up and playing through balls. I still have that ability, but as I improved as an athlete and got faster I became more valuable in the front 3. Putting the ball in the back of the net sparked my interest in playing forward, so I had to adjust my mindset from setting my teammates up to scoring goals.
Q: Who have been your biggest soccer mentors, and what was the most important thing you learned from each one?
A: I have had several soccer mentors, one being my dad who was the first to put my foot on the ball at a very young age. I have had the pleasure of many high level soccer coaches during my career. My current high school coach, Joe Caruolo, has taught me the importance of working hard on defense and scrapping in order to be around the ball to make plays. My club coach, Tom Carlin, has shown me the importance of playing a role on a successful team. Our club team is like a machine that only works if every part of the machine is on point, and seeing that side of soccer, where I’m not necessarily the guy, has been eternally valuable to me.
Q: Tell us a little about your pre-game preparation the day of a game.
A: I usually listen to a lot of music on the day of a game, along with stretching and drinking a lot of water. What I do on the day of a game isn’t as important whether I’m playing FIFA or watching The Office as long as I stay mostly isolated from distractions. I barely eat leading up to a game, as I like to feel light and it’s a bit of a superstition. When in warmups I make sure to stay isolated and locked in, often picturing what I need to do out on the field. No matter how warm or cold it is outside, I always pour water on my head and face to wake myself up right before I go out on the field.
Q: You wear uniform jersey No. 9 for Radnor. Why did you pick this number – was there a particular reason?
A: No. 9 is a classic striker’s number and makes me feel like a real striker, and other than that I have always just been drawn to the number itself. I wore No. 10 for most of my childhood mainly because of my favorite player, Lionel Messi, who is someone I admire. The only other number I would consider wearing is 14 because of Arsenal legend and my favorite player of all time, Thierry Henry.
Q: What is your favorite course at Radnor High School? What do you think you might want to major in at college? Is there a career field that particularly interests you at the present time?
A: My favorite course at Radnor High School is any English course. When I’m not on the field, one of my favorite things to do is write, whether it’s an essay for school, an article for the paper or I am just free writing. I have always had a passion for writing. I would like to major in Journalism or English and eventually become a journalist, potentially in the field of sports.
Fun facts – Matt Miller
Favorite author: Franklin W. Dixon.
Favorite TV show: The Office.
Favorite movie: Cars 2.
Favorite athlete: Lebron James.
Favorite pre-game pump-up song: Saint Pablo, by Kanye West.
Favorite team: Pittsburgh Steelers.
Favorite place to visit: Turks and Caicos.
Favorite pre-game meal: Pasta with pesto.
Family members: parents Dean and Allison, older brothers Jack and Peter.
(To be selected as Main Line Boys Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by his coach.)