by Marc Raimondi
Mark Kramarchuk was all but lost when it came to college soccer two years ago. He wanted to focus on academics and wasn’t sure what level he could play at. Around that time, his New York Cosmos (then Blau Weiss Gotschee) coach Dieter Ficken pulled him aside and told him he was a Division I player.
Ficken planted the idea and Kramarchuk has carried it out.
Shortly after the season, the Fordham Prep star sweeper committed to play men’s soccer at Bucknell, where he will not only be able to continue his illustrious soccer career at the Division I level, but he’ll also receive a top-notch education to go with it. Kramarchuk will sign early next month.
“After [Ficken] told me that, I was determined to work hard and play well,” Kramarchuk said.
The 6-foot-1 senior has all the tools to succeed at the next level. He has superior size, athleticism and skill coupled with his defensive abilities and being very dangerous in the air on offense. Kramarchuk was a driving force behind Fordham’s first-ever CHSAA Class AA state championship victory this season.
“He’s got clean skills,” Fordham Prep coach Pete McNamara said this season. “If he gets an open look, he’s gonna put it away almost every time. He’s always had that knack for goals. He doesn’t really panic in front of goal. He has a lot of composure on the ball, a lot of poise. He’s been in that situation so often. He has a soccer brain.”
Kramarchuk also uses that brain to be an exceptional student. Bucknell will not just be a soccer destination for him. Academics played a big role.
“I mean, Bucknell is a really good school academically,” he said. “It’s not too far away from home, the soccer is a Division I program and I knew I'd have a chance to play. Plus I loved the campus and small classes.”
Kramarchuk visited the Pennsylvania school during the soccer playoffs and committed two weeks later. Around that time, he also enjoyed the crowning achievement of helping lead Fordham to a state championship, which has been elusive for The Bronx school.
“Winning the state title and getting into the city championship three out of my four years on the varsity team will definitely be something [I leave] behind, but I think the team itself from this year will be what everyone remembers,” Kramarchuk said. “The group of guys and just everything we did, through all the injuries and adversity we went through – it’s something we all did together, as brothers and one team.”
He credited McNamara for his preparation and dedication. Kramarchuk clearly listens to his coaches. After all, Ficken had a profound effect on where he’ll end up playing in college.
“He told me Bucknell was a top-notch school and that I would fit very well in it,” Kramarchuk said. “Just to be able to play with some great athletes in a sport I love is something I really look forward to.”