James Wood soccer players Russell, Cornwell to play at Division I level

WINCHESTER — As good as the James Wood boys’ soccer team was last year, Wednesday was another indicator that the Colonels should be an even bigger force in the Class 4 Northwestern District once the spring rolls around.

soccerSenior goalkeeper Ethan Russell — who last played for the Colonels as a freshman — and senior center back James Cornwell, a transfer from Mountain View Christian Academy, each signed a National Letter of Intent to continue their soccer careers at the NCAA Division I level in 2019 during a signing ceremony at James Wood on Wednesday.

Russell will receive a scholarship covering about 90 percent of his expenses to play for Mount St. Mary’s, a Northeast Conference school located in Emmitsburg, Md. Cornwell will also receive a partial scholarship and will play at George Mason University of the Atlantic 10.

Russell and Cornwell — who spoke during separate phone interviews on Tuesday night — were each looking forward to sharing Wednesday’s ceremony with each other. On Wednesday, George Mason announced that head coach Greg Andrulis had resigned after 15 seasons, but Cornwell said in a text message Wednesday morning that move was not going to affect his commitment to GMU.

Russell and Cornwell first played together with Winchester United in fourth grade and they are currently teammates for Loudoun Soccer’s 01/02 team in the Elite Clubs National League. They’re also both trying out for James Wood’s boys’ basketball team this winter.

Cornwell said one of the reasons why he decided to transfer to James Wood this year was the chance to play sports with friends he had known for years, including Russell. The two will join a James Wood soccer team that will bring back eight starters from a team that went 10-6-1 and tied for the third in the district last year.

“I feel honored [to sign with Russell],” Cornwell said.

“It’s pretty awesome,” Russell said. “For him to come to James Wood, and for us to play our last year together is pretty cool.”

Russell stood out a freshman for the Colonels, leading the area with 12.1 saves per game and earning second-team All-Conference 21 West honors. Since then he’s focused on playing for the Virginia Development Academy before moving on to Loudoun Soccer this year, and now he’s added James Wood athletics back into the fold.

“It’s been pretty tough not having high school sports the last two years,” said Russell, who was one of the top people on James Wood’s regional-qualifying golf team this fall. “My freshman year was really fun, so I can’t wait to play again.”

Russell said he was first contacted by Mount St. Mary’s at the end of May, and he was offered a scholarship in early scholarship. Russell made the decision to accept it on Oct. 17.

The Mountaineers are led by third-year head coach Bryan Cunningham, who took Central Florida to the NCAA Tournament twice before coming to Emmitsburg.

“I like where it’s located,” said Russell of the school that’s 75 miles from Winchester and currently enrolls approximately 2,400 students. “It’s decently close to home, so my friends and family can come watch. And I like how small it is with the class sizes. I feel like I can really thrive in smaller classes and learn a lot more than in a big lecture situation.”

Russell also liked the appreciation Mount St. Mary’s expressed for his playing ability and how he could fit into its program. The Mountaineers (7-10, 3-6 Northeast Conference) currently list two underclassmen on their roster who combined to start all 17 games in goal.

“They said I have a chance to play all four years, and that’s all I really want to do,” Russell said. “I want to try and help out every year and not wait until junior or senior year to get some playing time.

“It’s been a childhood dream to play college soccer.”

Russell said he’s not sure what’s he going to major in, but he might go into the business field, possibly sports marketing.

Cornwell said he also had scholarship offers from Mount St. Mary’s and William & Mary, but he said things picked up with George Mason in the past two months.

Cornwell said he made a visit to the Fairfax school and watched the Patriots, who went 4-12-2 overall and 3-5 in the A-10, play Liberty on Sept. 14. He let George Mason know he was coming on Oct. 7.

“The guys were really cool when I met them,” Cornwell said.

Cornwell said George Mason’s strong cybersecurity program was a major reason for his decision to pick GMU over William & Mary and Mount St. Mary’s.

“George Mason has been known for its program for a few years now,” Cornwell said.

Cornwell said it means a lot to him to keep his soccer career going.

“I just feel really blessed to have this opportunity,” Cornwell said. “I didn’t really think about playing college soccer until my parents told me I should really look into it.

“That’s when I made the decision to go to Loudoun [in ninth grade], because the competition is a little better. I was blessed to have a really good coach in John O’Hara, who got me in contact with [college] coaches. I’m really excited to play the next four years and just to see where it goes. This has been my main sport since I was 4, so it feels really good to be where I’m at right now.”

James Wood soccer head coach Brian Sullivan said he’s happy about their college future, and their future at James Wood.

“Bringing in two Division I athletes is going to help us tremendously moving forward,” Sullivan said.

— Contact Robert Niedzwiecki at
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