Andrew Harris, 2012, Gilman School
by Derek Toney
Andrew Harris’ introduction to goalkeeping started with a simple hand raise.
“Our goalie couldn’t get a ride and the coach asked ‘who wants to jump in?,’” recalled Harris, who was on the Howard County-based Thunder Soccer under-12 club team. “I like jumping around…I figured I had more of a future as a goalie than a field player.”
Harris found his niche and became one of the area’s best. The Gilman School grad is VSN’s No. 1 Boys Soccer Goalie of the Decade.
Harris helped take the Baltimore City private school, known for its successful football and lacrosse programs, to new heights in soccer. The Greyhounds reached the MIAA A final in 2010 and 2011, winning the crown in the latter.
Harris was VSN’s inaugural Boys Soccer Player of the Year in 2010.
He’s widely regarded as the gold standard for net minding in the area’s best conference.
“He really didn’t have any weaknesses. He was good low (stopping the ball), he was good high,” said Greyhounds coach Jon Seal. “His distribution was unbelievable, he could dropkick the ball 80 yards.”
“He was the best goalkeeper I’ve ever seen or coached,” said Loyola University men’s coach Steve Nichols. “He changes your program.”
Nichols, who made McDonogh School the preeminent force in the MIAA A for two decades before moving to the college ranks, coached Harris on the Baltimore Bays under-18 national championship team in the summer of 2011.
Nichols remembers the Seattle Sounders dominating the Bays in shots in the title match, on a 100-degree day in Texas. The Bays won 2-0.
“He was good as anybody in the country,” said Nichols. “Guys would die for him. It’s very rare.”
Harris and his Gilman mates stopped Nichols’ McDonogh squad, 1-0, in the 2010 MIAA A final. Harris sealed the Greyhounds’ first league championship since 1995, getting his hand on Malcolm Harris’ deep laser to the corner in the final minute.
“I really didn’t processed it in my brain and my body just reacted,” said Harris, who posted a school-record 13 shutouts in his junior season. “I’m not really sure how I got to the ball.”
Harris got the Greyhounds back to the MIAA A final in 2011. He was again invincible, keeping McDonogh at bay with several acrobatic saves. After 88 minutes, the Eagles finally got the ball past Harris for a 1-0 overtime win.
Current McDonogh school Brandon Quaranta said Harris, who rewrote the Gilman record book with 15 shutouts his senior season, is the only goalie he’s seen that had to be prepped for.
“You knew goals would be at a premium, you were going to have to defend and that’s huge amount of pressure,” said Quaranta, who was previously an Eagle assistant. “A tremendous leader who inspired confidence.”
Harris credits Seal for putting him “in a lot of good situations where I had a chance to help motivate the team.”
“We were a lacrosse team playing soccer,” said Harris, who was a forward his freshman season. “We had guys doing an incredible job filling a role. We were such a tight knit group.”
After playing on the highest levels in the MIAA A and national club circuit with the Bays, Harris went to Wake Forest University and the nation’s best Division I collegiate league in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Harris played in more than a dozen games for the Demon Deacons. He was redshirted his junior season (2014).
Harris, a two-time NSCAA All-American and the Maryland Gatorade Player of the Year in 2012, admits his college playing years paled to his prep days, but he discovered balance.
“You go through adversity and it develops another side, being able to support the team and be a good teammate,” said Harris, who graduated from Wake Forest in 2016. “For so much of my life, I was defined as a soccer player. It was time in my life find other words to describe, finding a weird confidence.”
Harris, who now lives in Chicago, carries that confidence in his professional life as an enterprise partner for Uber Eats.
He still plays soccer where he’s come full circle.
“I’m a liability on the left wing,” laughed Harris, “but I got to tell you, it’s a lot more fun than playing goalie.”