Former Connecticut College men’s soccer goalkeeper AJ Marcucci ’21 is the first-ever Conn athlete to be drafted into Major League Soccer. Marcucci was selected by the New York Red Bulls in the third round of the 2021 MLS SuperDraft in January.
“It was amazing,” Marcucci told the The Delaware County Daily Times. “It was stressful until I saw my name put up there, but I’m excited. Every emotion that you can think of, I’m feeling right now. It’s one of my dreams so I’ve just got to prove myself in New York. New York’s a great organization.”
Marcucci is now the first Division III player to be drafted since midfielder Marshall Hollingsworth of Wheaton (Ill.) was selected with the 41st pick by the Columbus Crew in 2016.
“Our program is so proud of AJ and his family,” said men’s head soccer coach Reuben Burk. “I know this is a dream come true for him. He has earned this opportunity, and we couldn’t be happier and more excited for him.
“AJ is a true example of how dedication, commitment and self-belief can open up doors that others might say can’t be opened. We all look forward to watching AJ seize this opportunity.”
As a Camel, Marcucci started in 54 of the team’s 55 matches between 2017 and 2019 and helped the team post a combined 35-10-9 record in that span. He finished his career with a school-record 25 career shutouts to go along with an .887 save percentage and an 0.50 goals against average.
Among his many accolades, Marcucci earned a place on the NCAA All-America First Team as the nation’s top Division III goalkeeper twice, named by both the United Soccer Coaches and D3soccer.com in 2018 and 2019. He was also named the 2017 NESCAC Rookie of the Year and the 2018 NESCAC Player of the Year.
“This is a tremendous achievement for AJ and is a reflection of the broader excellence of our student athletes at Conn,” said Mo White, director of athletics. “The College is incredibly proud of AJ and looking forward to seeing what he’ll do next as a New York Red Bulls soccer player.”
The Camel men’s soccer team had its most successful three-year run with Marcucci between the
posts from 2017-19. The program became Conn’s first sport to qualify for three straight NCAA Tournaments, which included being chosen to host the opening two rounds for the first time in school history in 2018. In 2019, the team finished with a 13-4-3 record, and advanced to the “Elite 8” at NCAAs. Only the 1998 women’s soccer team and the 1998-99 men’s basketball program previously advanced to
the national quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively.
Marcucci’s senior season in 2020 was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, according to the Daily Times, he returned home to play for West Chester United SC.
“We were able to play,” Marcucci said. “We used guidelines for when it got shut down, and we couldn’t play for a little. But playing really helped prepare me going into the [MLS] combine.This week has been a whirlwind of emotions.”