From Prospect to Pro: Matt Vowinkel ’17 Selected in MLS Draft

By Jack Terry ‘21

Former Flyer Matt Vowinkel ’17 was drafted by professional soccer team FC Cincinnati with the second pick in the third round of the MLS Superdraft, which took place on January 21 of last week.  Vowinkel, who enjoyed a very successful collegiate career at Hofstra University, joins an upstart franchise in FC Cincinnati, a club that joined MLS in 2019.

Matt was a scintillating player throughout his four years at Chaminade.  During his tenure with the Flyers, the speedy striker was a two-time NSCHSAA player of the year, two-time All-American, and was named Gatorade New York Player of the Year.  During his junior year, Vowinkel led the NSCHSAA with 26 goals scored. 

After Vowinkel was named an All-American during his junior year, assistant varsity coach Mr. Matthew Chicavich ’98 noted, “Matt has a natural goal-scoring ability that can’t be taught.  It’s just a vision and hunger that he was born with.  He’ll score every type of goal: righty, lefty, with his head, penalties.  He’s a constant goal-scoring threat.” 

Don Corrao, an assistant coach from rival St. Anthony’s, added, “[Vowinkel]’s got good size, good pace, a nose for the goal, and he can crush the ball.”

Vowinkel’s prowess on the pitch led to more than just individual accolades.  Starting on varsity since his sophomore year, Vowinkel led the Flyers to two NSCHSAA championships and back-to-back state championships in his junior and senior years. 

Vowinkel’s state title with the 2016 team sealed the team’s place in history as just the second to win back-to-back state crowns.  Perhaps Vowinkel’s most glorious moment was the overtime goal he scored against St. Anthony’s to win the 2016 NSCHSAA title.  On a brisk November evening in Vowinkel’s senior year, the rival Flyers and Friars played through 100-plus minutes of fiercely competitive soccer.  It was Vowinkel’s stunning strike of a finish in the second half of overtime that gave the Flyers the win and the title.

When asked for his favorite memory of Vowinkel, soccer coach Mr. Gabriel Ramos ’04 made no mention of Matt’s killer right foot or his keen awareness for astute defenders.  Instead, Mr. Ramos thought back to a conversation he had with Matt during his senior year when they were discussing various colleges at which Matt could continue his soccer career.

Mr. Ramos encouraged Vowinkel to attend several high-level Division I schools that have a track record of sending players to Major League Soccer.  Matt, with his impressive scoring abilities and personal accolades, could’ve played soccer at many schools, but he quickly made a decision to join Hofstra.

At the time of his decision, Matt stated, “I will prove myself to be valuable at Hofstra, and I’ll work hard to be identified to play in the MLS.  I want to play my college years locally so that my family is able to come and watch.” 

“His confidence in his own ability and loyalty was admirable,” recalled Mr. Ramos. “That particular memory serves as a wonderful example of the type of young man Matthew is.”  

Matt’s talents both on and off the field served him well on his journey to Major League Soccer.  His being drafted is a testament to his focused attitude, talent, hard work, and dedication. 

“Matt has always led by example,” Mr. Ramos added. “His work ethic, dedication, and commitment to continuous development helped create a positive atmosphere.”

Matt always wanted to become a professional soccer player, and now, his goal has become a reality.  Drafted with the second pick in the third round, Vowinkel has a very real chance to be rostered next season by FC Cincinnati. 

“I found it particularly fascinating that Matthew, as a freshman, knew the difference between a goal and a dream,” said Mr. Ramos.  “A goal is something that you plan and work towards, while a dream typically lives inside your mind and does not produce tangible results.” 

Indeed, Matt’s results speak for themselves.

A complete archive of Tarmac Online’s coverage of Matt’s career can be found here.