âIs that a freshman playing?â could be heard multiple times on the sidelines of the Harvard menâs soccer teamâs home opener on Sept. 1, as several of the teamâs newest members either started or were substituted into the game. It has been clear from the start of the season that Harvard (1-5-1) has a talented set of freshmenâone of the strongest classes in program history.
This strength can be attributed, in part, to the atypical pre-college experiences of some of the players. While many student athletes dream of playing for professional or national teams after graduation, midfielder/forward Paolo Belloni-Urso and midfielder Cornelius Bencsik have already done so.
Belloni-Urso has had quite the international soccer career, playing for clubs in three countries.
âOverall, Iâve gotten different experiences in different ways of playing because Iâve played on…different teams,â Belloni-Urso said. âSo Iâve learned from playing in different countries and with different people, their perspectives.â
Prior to his arrival at Harvard, the midfielder played for youth clubs in his native Honduras before moving to Florida. During his time there, Belloni-Urso attracted interest from the national level. In 2013, he was invited to the U.S. U14 national teamâs training camp.
Bellon-Urso then caught the eye of Genoa F.C., a club in Italyâs Serie A league, where he would spend the next few years playing on the youth team. He captained the U16 and U17 teams, and helped his team win four Serie A national championships.
Bellon-Urso was named to the Honduran U17 team before making the American U18 team, for which…