Academics help Routch choose Duquesne

For Hollidaysburg Area High School senior girls soccer standout Sydney Routch, academics is even more important than athletics.

“I try to put my academics before my soccer,” said Routch, who carries a perfect 4.0 grade-point average in the classroom and who scored 80 goals and 30 assists as a four-year starter at forward for the Hollidaysburg girls soccer program. “Soccer is just an added bonus. Soccer will just get me through college, but academics will get me through the rest of my life. Academics is a very important part of my life.”

While Duquesne University offers outstanding Division I women’s soccer as a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference, it was the school’s academic curriculum — small class size and a positive learning environment, coupled with a strong program in her physical therapy major field of study — that swayed Routch to pick Duquesne as the place where she will continue her academic and athletic careers.

Routch will sign a national letter of intent to attend Duquesne this morning at 9 a.m. in the Hollidaysburg Area Senior High School gymnasium lobby. Another Hollidaysburg athlete, football kicker Vlad Hilling, will also be signing a national letter of intent as a preferred walk-on at Penn State University this morning.

Routch said that Duquesne — located in downtown Pittsburgh — provides the atmosphere of a small campus in a large city.

“I love the atmosphere of Pittsburgh and being in the city, but the school is also away from the city,” Routch said of Duquesne. “It’s not like it’s a huge college, but it also (carries with it) the sense of a big city. The small classroom size will provide a good learning environment, and I loved the coaches and felt that I would fit in perfectly with the campus and the team.

“They also have a very good program for my major, which is physical therapy,” Routch said.

Duquesne offers a six-year doctoral program in physical therapy which was very appealing to Routch. The Duquesne women’s soccer program has also experienced recent success, having won the Atlantic 10 Conference championship in 2015 and having reached the conference semifinals last season.

“It’s pretty competitive,” Routch said of the Atlantic 10 Conference. “I’m looking forward to being part of that conference.”

Hollidaysburg coach Dave Soellner feels that Routch’s best days on the soccer field are ahead of her.

“In the four years she played at Hollidaysburg, she brought a lot to the table,” Soellner said. “She scored a lot of goals and a lot of assists, and each year, I think she grew as a player. But I don’t think we’ve seen the best soccer out of her yet. I think in the next four years of her college career, we will see her best soccer.”

Routch believes that she can be an impact player as a freshman at Duquesne next fall.

“I played forward at Hollidaysburg, but I’ll most likely play outside back at Duquesne,” Routch said. “I’ll be able to help the team both offensively and defensively, and as long as I work my way up, they say that I should be on the field as a freshman.”

Routch — who also considered Seton Hall, DePaul, Temple and St. Francis — played on back-to-back District 6 Class 3A championship teams at Hollidaysburg in her junior and senior years.

“It was awesome to be able to play with some of my best friends, and it was an amazing feeling to win back-to-back championships with them,” Routch said.