Cullop has exceeded expectations, reached his goal|Former Terra Ceia star ready to occupy the net at Waldorf

Published 7:04 am Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Staff Writer

When Stephen Cullop transferred from Terra Ceia to Blue Ridge School in St. George, Va., before his junior year of high school, he was told his chances of playing college soccer were slim. Area coaches said he needed to play more club soccer, and focus less on varsity soccer.
Two years later, the 20-year-old tough-nosed goalie from Washington is about to travel halfway across America to prove the nay-sayers wrong.
Cullop signed with Waldorf College, in Forest City, Iowa, in late-March, and leaves for the private, four-year liberal arts college on Aug. 16. Cullop, who received a 55 percent scholarship, will major in secondary education with a concentration in history.
And Cullop better come ready to play.
The Warrior soccer team opens up its 2009 campaign on Aug. 29 as Dordt College comes to town.
Waldorf head coach Fabio G. dos Santos has promised Cullop he will see plenty of time in the net.
"If I do well the first couple of weeks, I will probably start," the eager goalie said.
Cullop has gotten used to starting over the years.
He joined the Terra Ceia soccer team in seventh grade, and quickly made a name for himself. After his sophomore year at the private school, Cullop made the move to the reputable Blue Ridge School, where athletes are groomed and grown.
"That's the best two years of high school I had," said Cullop. "And the level of play was a lot better."
Blue Ridge was also where the goalie was first scouted.
"(Coach dos Santos) emailed me and said he received a good scouting report on me," Cullop said.
Coach dos Santos said he wanted Cullop to be a Warrior. The young goalie said he wanted to visit the school before making any rash decisions. After taking a tour of the campus with Coach dos Santos, Cullop realized he should sign.
According to Cullop, he is joining a young team with a lot of potential.
"They're rebuilding right now, but in the near-future we're going to be very good," he said.
Cullop admits that he's nervous to leave Washington, the place he's called home for 18 years of his life, but is excited about the opportunity at Waldorf.
"I'm nervous, but it's just the first year and we're just rebuilding," he said. “It's not going to be that big a deal if we don't do well."
The solid goalie expects the competition to be tougher at Waldorf, a member of the Midwest Collegiate Conference (MCC). The MCC belongs to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).
"I think there are going to be a lot more people shooting at me a lot harder, and I'm just going to have to deal with it," Cullop said.
The goalie isn't too concerned about attackers squaring up the goal on breakaways. He's just happy to be where he is.
"Anybody can do what they really want to do if they push hard enough, because I was told I wouldn't play college soccer because I didn't play club," he said.