Alex Kapp really loves soccer.
He’s carried a ball around with him ever since he was young. He’s tried other activities, but hasn’t found that same level of comfort that he has on the pitch. Quite simply, for Alex Kapp, soccer is everything.
It’s not hard to immerse yourself so deeply into a sport when your father was one of the best to play it.
Erhardt Kapp was an All-American defender at the University of Connecticut in the late-1970s, going on to play for the world-famous New York Cosmos and even make a few appearances for the U.S. National Team. Kapp was a starter on the American Olympic squad in 1984, a team that failed to make it out of the group stage. With his father’s fame came certain perks, and the younger Kapp has been able to meet with and speak to some of the all-time greats.
“The Cosmos have had a couple reunions and I’ve gotten to meet Franz Beckenbauer, Giorgio Chinaglia, Pele and a few others,” Kapp said, referring to the superstars of years past. “I’ve been able to grow up in a soccer culture and pick these guys’ brains, get some information from them. Soccer is very mental, so any kind of advice you can get from those who have been there before you is great.”
Injuries hampered Erhardt at the end of his career, but the fact that he could not play any longer did not prevent him from teaching his son the game.
“We started early with a club team in my town, and he was always my coach,” Kapp said. “He established a really good background for the game and gave me the tools at an early age to become what I am today.”
Today, Kapp is a standout goalie in one of the premier athletic conferences in the country.
Kapp performed admirably early in the 2014 campaign for the Eagles, making save after big save to keep his team in games. Despite underwhelming play from the rest of the unit at times, Kapp’s potential for soccer stardom has shone through time and time again.
Coming out of Iona Prep, Kapp was recruited by Boston College, the University of Notre Dame, and the University of Louisville. The deciding factor to stay closer to home for the Amawalk, N.Y. native was the ability to receive a BC degree with a finance major in the Carroll School of Management.
“At the end of the day, if soccer doesn’t work out, or if you become injured, you have to make sure you love the school as much as you love soccer,” he said. “When I came here, I just fell in love with the school.”
The goalie has been one of the few positives for a team that seems overmatched at times in the incredibly powerful ACC. Despite padding its record with a few easy wins early in the year, BC sits at 3-4-1 following losses to conference foes Clemson, Louisville, and Duke, as well as crosstown rival Harvard.
Echoing the sentiment given by teammate Phil Sandgren following the home loss to the Cardinals, Kapp said that the Eagles have deserved better than what the scoreboard has been showing.
“We played pretty low-caliber teams in the beginning of the season, but now that we’ve hit this stretch of ACC teams, we’ve done well and we’ve been playing nice soccer but we’re not getting the results that we need,” Kapp said. “I wouldn’t say we deserved to lose all three of those games, because we were the better team in at least one of those three.”
Kapp said he and the back defensive four respect when the other team is just scoring impressive goals, but there have not been many this year.
“Our mentality all the time is ‘no goals, no goals, no goals.’ We aim for a shutout every time,” he said. “But if they score a nice goal, we clap it up and say there’s not much you could do about it. But unfortunately there haven’t been too many of those, and going forward we need to tighten up on our set pieces.”
With perennial powerhouse and rival Notre Dame next up on the schedule, Kapp and the Eagles have a chance to define their season with a USC-esque win on the road in South Bend. A groundbreaking victory over the Fighting Irish could be just what the doctor ordered for an ailing BC squad.
“We need that big win that will just put our season over the top,” he said. “And we’re confident that we can get that.”
Much of Kapp’s individual development this season can be credited to associate head coach John Murphy, who was hired last March. Murphy’s expertise is goalkeeper training and mentoring those who currently play his former position. The local product made history in 2009 when he became the first American citizen to coach a British professional team when he was hired by Livingston F.C. in Scotland, eventually rising through the ranks to become manager. He brings over 20 years of collegiate and professional coaching experience to the table.
“The coaches have been by my side the whole time, and Coach Murph coming in this year has been a huge boost,” Kapp said. “His background as a goalkeeper definitely helps me. They’ve made me tougher mentally in terms of not dealing with the criticism and just not letting little things bother you.”
Despite only being a junior, the rumor mill concerning Kapp’s potential ability to go professional, whether at home in the U.S. or abroad, has already started churning. While he’s not ready to think about that right now, citing making the NCAA Tournament as his only focus presently, he might know a person who he could go for advice.
“Right now, I’m just focused on doing everything I can for the team. I’m sure my play will speak for itself and hopefully down the road something can happen,” he said.
Should things unexpectedly fall through, Kapp has plans to carve out a career for himself in real estate, listing that as a hobby outside of soccer. Admittedly, though, he doesn’t have much interest in anything other than the sport he so dearly loves.
“Soccer is life, definitely,” Kapp said.
Featured Image by Emily Fahey / Heights Editor