A dangerous left foot has made its way to Rhodes Field.
Forrest Clancy chose to play soccer at Penn despite growing up in London.
Born to two American parents, Clancy said he had always been looking to play at an American college.
“I never really looked at England that much, especially because of how seriously they take soccer out here at the university level,” Clancy said.
His brother went to Brown, so his college search had an emphasis on the Ivies. Of those that he visited, Penn was his top choice.
In adjusting to the collegiate level, the biggest difference for Clancy has been the time and physical commitment.
“It took a lot of work to get in shape for preseason,” Clancy said. “I’ve never had to be that fit in my life.”
James Kershen, Clancy’s coach at Westminster School — an all-boys boarding and day school in London — began working with him when he was 14. Kershen said the commitment for the school team was about seven or eight hours a week, consisting of two-hour practices twice a week and matches on Saturdays. But for the motivated Clancy, it was often more.
Clancy lettered three years at Westminster and was captain in his final season.
“[Being captain] seemed to galvanize him into more of a team player than he might have been in previous years,” Kershen said, adding that Clancy’s year as captain turned him into a good motivator.
“When he made captain he would often take separate team talks on his own and galvanize the troops at halftime or before we started,” Kershen said. “He took his football very seriously, obviously, playing after school as well quite a bit.”
Outside of high school play, Clancy was selected for the U18 All-England private school team, was a youth player for the Queens Park Rangers and earned one full cap with the English Football Association.
“I’ve worked at the school nearly 20 years now, and he is undoubtedly one of the most skillful, if not the most skillful, player we’ve had come through the school — one of the very few to represent the full England independent school side,” Kershen said. “He undoubtedly has the sweetest left foot that we’ve had out of all the players that have come through and [he’s] scored the most amazing long-range shots, either from dead ball or open play.”
Mindful is a word Kershen used often to describe Clancy.
And Clancy was mindful of what needed to be done in his final year to get in the physical shape necessary for American college-level soccer.
The recruitment process began after Clancy sent a YouTube video of his game highlights to Penn coach Rudy Fuller.
The video piqued the interest of the coaching staff, so they invited him to one of Penn’s camps in the spring.
“We thought he did well over the course of the weekend and told him we wanted to continue following him,” Fuller said. “He came over for another camp in the summer, so we were able to get a second look at him.”
Clancy attended the Penn Elite 300 camp. During his time in the United States, he and Fuller discussed recruitment more seriously, finalizing it via phone early in the fall of his senior year.
“He has some special qualities to him,” Fuller said. “His left foot is first-class. He sees the game well and he has a maturity to him on the field that’s good to see.”
Though Clancy tore his ACL two weeks ago in the match against Villanova and will be out for the rest of the season, his first five games showed promise for the next three years.
“[Getting in shape] was rewarding, and I got to play in the five games that I was fit, which was really really fun,” Clancy said. “So it was a bummer to get injured, and to miss the rest of the season was very disappointing.”
Even with the setback of his injury, Clancy is still enjoying his freshman year.
“I’m taking four really good classes. They’re all really interesting, apart from Math 104, which is not,” he said. “I’m having a really great time. Living in the Quad is incredible.”
But his mind is still set on soccer, and he remains in high spirits about his next three years. Though he has some individual goals, the majority of his ambitions exist at the team level.
“In the next three years, I’d say making the NCAA tournament [all three] years is my priority because that’s what I want to be part of, and winning the Ivy League,” Clancy said. “Those are the two things that come immediately to mind.”
Clancy remains optimistic about the remainder of his time at Penn, and Fuller believes he will be a very dangerous opponent.
“He doesn’t get flustered and he’s comfortable with the ball on his left foot,” Fuller said.
Soccer has been such a large part of his life, and his maturity and confidence on the field at such a high level show that.
“[I got into soccer] as soon as I could walk,” Clancy said. “In England it’s the only sport to play as a kid growing up, so I just played it my whole life.”
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