Competition runs in the Zouantcha brothers’ veins
Men’s soccer’s latest set of siblings hope to bring home another championship
Soccer is the world’s pastime, and the love of this beautiful game is often passed from generation to generation. For brothers and men’s soccer forwards Jerry and Dilane Zouantcha, that isn’t any different.
Jerry and Dilane found their love of soccer at a young age. Jerry, a fifth-year senior and team captain, remembers first playing games on the streets in Cameroon before coming to the U.S.
“We lived in a very small community, all the kids and adults would play soccer on the dirt road that we had in our neighborhood,” Jerry said. “So I was 4 or 5-years-old when I would run outside and everyone would be playing soccer with a sock or a tennis ball; it usually wasn’t a soccer ball which was the funniest part.”
Dilane, a freshman, was too young to experience this in Cameroon, but developed his love of soccer through his family.
He said that his family has always had a love for soccer, his father and mother playing in their younger years and then all three of his older siblings picking it up as they grew.
Jerry and Dilane’s older brother, Wielfried, who played as a defender with Loyola Maryland in 2015, helped to instill a competitive spirit into the two brothers.
“I was always trying to outdo him, always trying to outperform him,” Jerry said. “He was a defender and I was an attacker, it was perfect for us training because we would attack and defend each other nonstop.”
However, Jerry and Dilane’s competitiveness with each other didn’t start until Dilane was late into his high school year, according to Jerry. The two started to go head to head against each other as Dilane got older, each trying to outdo the other.
The brothers’ competition with each other has translated well to the American University field.
“Being on the same field, having the same coach, it’s a dream come true for sure,” Dilane said. “It’s a big reason why I came to American University and as you can tell we are similar players, and what is better than learning from someone who plays just like me.”
Jerry echoed the sentiment.
“It’s different because there is a level of respect I have for him,” Jerry said. “Not that I didn’t respect him before, but now I look at him as an equal. I have to trust him to be my teammate on the field and it’s deeper because he’s my brother, I sometimes will care more about his performance than I will my own.”
The Zouantcha brothers are just the latest in a long line of siblings to bring their talents to the Eagles. Notably, the three Kuykendall brothers, who helped lead AU to the NCAA tournament 2001, 2002 and 2004.
The brothers aren’t the only sibling athletes active with the Eagles too. The Schaen twins, Jennifer and Morgan, along with the Harkins sisters, Haley and Casey played together on the women’s lacrosse team. The Petronis twins, Jaime and Kate, also joined the team this year as freshmen. The women’s soccer team also has a set of siblings: Jordan and Olivia Mahony.
But, this is the first set of siblings for third-year head coach Zach Samol. When it comes to coaching these two, he said there is no difference between them and the rest of the team.
“They’re different people,” Samol said. “Jerry responds to things differently than Dilane does and vice versa. They are brothers, but you’re treating them like a normal player on the team where you are handling guys appropriately given who they are.”
Samol also said Jerry has matured into a leader for the team during his time there, especially with his ability to bring the team together. Samol said that Dilane has a lot to learn at the college level as a freshman but praised his athleticism, one on one ability and physicality on the field.
While the brothers are different in many ways, the two are united in their goal of winning another Patriot League Championship.
“We won the Patriot League with maybe six or seven freshman starters,” Dilane said. “People may think it was a fluke, or whatever… [but] I think we have a bigger chip on our shoulders because of our past. Winning the Patriot League again is going to be the standard honestly, that’s what I’m here for.”