Bucknell had been leading since the end of the first half. With mere minutes left of game time, Eagles fans began to zip up their bags, collect their belongings and make plans for the rest of the afternoon, walking away from an expected loss. But for sophomore forward Jerry Zouantcha, it wasn’t over. After a few dribbles, he shot and scored, tying the game.
After he scored the goal on Sept. 29, Zouantcha was filled with emotion as he ran to the crowd of fans off to the side of the field to celebrate with ecstatic alumni.
Zouantcha's story is unique. His family moved to the United States from Cameroon when he was just 6 years old, though he still remembers Cameroon well. Compared to the United States, he said that “the lifestyle difference is black and white.” He started playing competitive soccer when he was 8 years old, he said.
"In Cameroon, [soccer] is actually part of the culture,” Zouantcha said. “It’s an every day thing. There’s no basketball, there’s no football, there’s no swimming. Either you play soccer or you don’t.”
He kept his roots, sticking to playing only soccer as he grew up in the Washington area. Zouantcha chose to play at AU because he had already known the coaches from youth soccer, saying that he “respected the way that they trained [him].” The proximity to home was an added bonus.
Zouantcha didn’t play high school soccer, choosing to play academy soccer instead. Academy soccer is a league for top-tier youth soccer players, with teams from around the country. He said that collegiate soccer is much more physical, though there are little differences between the two.
“I consider myself pretty physical enough, so it wasn’t too bad,” he said.
His tough, physical play has been visible throughout his collegiate career. Last season, he received four yellow cards total, and he’s already racked up three yellow cards and one red card in the first few games of this season. Zouantcha is constantly hustling and battling for the ball against the opposing team’s defenders.
But Zouantcha’s freshman year season didn’t go the way he wished. Of AU’s 17 games last season, he started in seven. He attempted a total of 15 shots with eight of them on goal, but none of them found their mark, making his first season scoreless.
“Freshman year was a little hard because I couldn’t get any goals,” Zouantcha said. “I was always so close, so close, so close.”
As seen from the early games of this season, his sophomore year is already different. He’s made four goals out of his nine shots on goal and 17 total attempts.
“This year, when I finally got my first [goal], I knew it was going to be a different year,” he said, noting that he now has more confidence and feels more comfortable taking shots.
Zouantcha is now seeing success on the field and enjoying his courses as well, majoring in biology and health promotion.
“I love biology and the study of the human body,” he said.
His favorite moment so far with the team was scoring that clutch goal against Bucknell in front of the team alumni.
“It was nice to take the relief off and kind of break our loss,” he said. “It felt great.”
The excitement of the moment was evident as he was greeted by a swarm of cheering fans and friends.
“I made a couple of agreements that I’ll score some goals for some people, and it happened,” Zouantcha said.
When asked if he would want to continue playing soccer after college, Zouantcha smiled and responded with only two words: “For sure.”