It’s not often that a Division III athlete finds themself being broadcast on a nationwide network in front of millions of viewers. But last Wednesday, Sept. 21, that is exactly what happened to Eujin Chae ’25.
In the dying embers of a match against Framingham State University, Chae lined up a corner kick on the far end of South Street Field. The game was 3–1 in favor of the Panthers and the clock showed just forty seconds remaining, meaning a Middlebury win was all but certain. But Chae, who had already assisted a goal earlier in the second half, wanted to put the exclamation mark on the win.
In a way that can only be described as David Beckham-esque, Chae curved his corner kick into play, over the crowd of players waiting inside the six-yard box, and into the top right corner of the net. The next morning, he awoke to find his goal had been named the fifth best play of the day on ESPN’s SportsCenter Top 10.
“It was a surreal feeling,” Chae said after learning of his achievement. “I did not expect my goal to go this viral and be on a platform that can reach millions.”
His goal from the corner spot, often referred to as an Olimpico by avid soccer fans, is one of the more difficult skills to master. For Chae, it was simply a matter of practice.
“I have practiced this type of corner a few times,” he said. “But I did not expect that I would be able to do it in a game.”
Like most college athletes, the sophomore from South Korea has taken notes from watching some of the greats of the professional sport.
“My biggest role model in soccer is Andrea Pirlo,” Chae said. “Growing up, I really admired his calm and creative playing style. His playing style is something I try to replicate when I play.”
However, although players like the World Cup winning Pirlo are certainly inspiring figures, Chae says he finds his main source of inspiration much closer to home.
“My biggest influences in the sport are my teammates. Playing the sport I love with the people I love is the reason I’m able to continue this sport with the same passion I had as a kid,” he said.
Despite his newfounds virality, Chae remains humble in his approach to the game, already looking to the rest of the season ahead.
“My individual goal is to become a more improved player than last season,” he said. “Our team goal this year is to build upon last season’s ambition, which was to win the NCAA championship.”
Chae and the men’s soccer team will next be in action this Saturday, Oct. 1, in an away game at Wesleyan.
Charles Crounse '24 (he/him) is the senior sports editor for the Campus. He has previously worked as a writer and staff editor for the section. Charles is pursuing a major in environmental policy and a minor in French, and in his free time he enjoys biking, hiking, and exploring Vermont. He is also a member of the club soccer team on campus.