The Naval Academy Gains Edmund Soeder
The Naval Academy gains an explosive athlete in Edmund Soeder, who commits to continue his academic and rugby career in Annapolis, Maryland. Soeder was a member of the State and National Championship Wildcats in 2022 and has proven himself as one of the top rugby players in class in 2023.
“I’m happy for Ed and his family. Coach Hickie is running a great program in Annapolis and Ed is going to play one of the toughest schedules in the country week in and week out,” said head rugby coach Dan Arbeznik ’00. “I am very pleased with the development of the relationship between Saint Ignatius High School and our Service Academies. Your head coaches have told me countless times that the children of the Jesuit schools know instinctively what it means to live a life of ministry. The curve is shallow as our boys have what it takes to be a man to others.”
“The Navy trainers contacted me after I took part in the summer tour with the U18 team,” says Söder. “This school checked all the boxes for me and I’m looking forward to going to Annapolis.”
Rugby has grown exponentially in the States over time. It has increased significantly at Saint Ignatius High School, where the program has won seven state championships and one national title. Soeder discovered a passion for the game at a young age and has blossomed into a solid forward for the Wildcats.
“It started with my cousin Sean Soeder in ’18; he introduced me to the game and with the help of my coaches and teammates I started to love the sport,” says Soeder. “I love the physicality and the mental aspect of rugby. There is nothing quite like playing and winning a full game of rugby.”
It was a memorable summer for Soeder when Team USA picked him to compete in their U18 team in the Netherlands. On the international stage, Soeder competed against the national teams of the Netherlands, Canada and Belgium while representing the United States. “This experience helped me a lot because it strengthened my confidence in my abilities,” says Soeder. “I’ve been able to play with some of the best and learn more about the game, which has made me better.”
“Of the 30+ players that Team USA took on tour this summer, Ed was just one of two selected for all three games. I think most of all Ed gained tremendous confidence knowing he had what it took to play at a level above what we are,” explains Arbeznnik. “That carries over to the rest of our guys . We’ll see constant improvement in our ranks when they can measure up to those standards and score those goals.”
Soeder is a dual sportsman at Saint Ignatius as he represented the blue and gold on the gridiron in the fall. The senior was a standout middle linebacker for defensive coordinator Ryan Franzinger ’02 in 2022. As quarterback on defense, Soeder was the team’s third-leading tackler at 48 and recorded three sacks for the season. “As a middle linebacker, you have to be physical when you hit a pulling lineman or run back into the gaps,” explains Soeder. “The physicality and team aspect of football careers through to rugby which has helped my development.”
The rugby forward was working to regain his strength after missing his entire junior football season towards the end of his sophomore year with a shoulder injury. After countless hours of recovery, Soeder returned to the football pitch and rugby field. “There was the mental side, where you worry about injuring your shoulder again,” says Soeder. “After undergoing months of physical therapy I gained confidence in my body and full confidence to keep playing.”
The 2022 rugby season was notable for the Wildcats as they won the programme’s first national championship after narrowly losing the previous season. Soeder played a key role in that roster as a forward for the Wildcats. “We had a lot of returnees this season and with our great team of coaches we were able to improve our game,” says Soeder. “It was an incredible experience. We’re a lot younger this year, but we want to go back-to-back with our talent.”
For the 2023 season, Soeder will be essential for the Wildcats to protect their national crown. One of our club’s four core values is humility. I think most people would be surprised to learn that Ed isn’t one of our “chiefs” (a sort of “captain”) in our system, but has a much higher role,” explains Arbeznik. “That doesn’t mean he’s not a leader. There is no ego with Ed. He goes out and performs and works his cock off. He’s a team first guy.”
Ever since Soeder stepped onto the Saint Ignatius campus, he has been committed to becoming the best teammate and player he can be and that was evident to coach Arbeznik from day one.
“Ed had to ride the waves of happiness during those four years. His freshman year was cut short by the COVID pandemic. He got a rare starting role in our first XV as a sophomore but had to miss the national championships when he injured his shoulder in the weight room,” says Arbeznik. “He comes back to us having just played in July Amsterdam has played overseas for the USA and with all the experience from last year’s national championship and three-game Tour of France, one thing that sets Ed (and a number of our other guys) apart is how versatile Ed is on the student council, played middle linebacker in football, and is an excellent student in the classroom.”
As the season approaches, the Rugby Cats are considered underdogs after a big senior class in 2022. For Soeder, however, this only strengthens the will to defend the national championship. “I’m looking forward to playing with a new group of guys and getting together with this group and learning about their skills,” explains Soeder. “We have a lot of young talent so it will be interesting to see who rises. We’re the underdogs this season, I enjoy that, it’s a motivating factor for us.”
Before Soeder competes in Division I with the Midshipmen, he and his boys will be looking to repeat themselves as state and national champions in 2023.