Brandeis men's soccer senior Andrew Allen has been part of the Judges' family for his entire life. His father, Greg, Class of 1986, was a Hall of Fame player for coach Mike Coven, who went to a Final Four as a junior. After Greg graduated, he always brought Andrew along to alumni games. The Brandeis connection doesn't stop there, as Greg met his wife Grace '86 on campus, and Andrew's older sister, Elizabeth, is a member of the class of 2014.
With all that history, Andrew almost went in another direction.
"I didn't want to end up in my dad's shadow, but coach [Mike] Coven ended up convincing me that it would be the right decision, and I'm glad he did," Andrew recalled.
Coven, the 44-year head coach who retired at the end of the 2016 season, was the master of the hand-written note and of letting prospective players known that he personally wanted them to come to Brandeis. Andrew took that feeling to heart and decided to follow in the rest of his family's footsteps, and not just on the soccer field.
Andrew picked computer science for a major, as his father did, though it took him a while to come to that conclusion. Andrew decided on Brandeis over a more technically-focused school because of the many educational options open to him.
"I liked math, I liked physics, but I wasn't sure what it was I wanted to do," Allen said. It wasn't until he actually enrolled in intro math and CoSci courses that the decision to start down a similar academic path to Greg was made.
"I really feel at home at Brandeis. It's really a special campus. I'm never unhappy when it's time to come back to school," Andrew said.
Andrew has tried to spread that feeling to his fellow student-athletes, getting involved with the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) as a sophomore and rising to co-president of the organization as a senior. Men's soccer coach Gabe Margolis is the SAAC advisor on staff, and he recommended Andrew to get involved two years ago. He joined his coach and two others on the annual University Athletic Association (UAA) SAAC conference at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. There, Andrew got to meet with other UAA representatives and share ideas from around the league, bringing them back to Waltham to share with his classmates, teammates and other student-athletes with the idea of promoting greater fellowship amongst Judges of all sports.
Back on the field, Andrew has been able to one-up his father on a couple of fronts. Where Greg went to one Division III Final Four, in 1984, Andrew has been to two, in 2016 and 2017. Where Greg was kept off the board in his Final Four berth, Andrew gave Brandeis a 2-1 lead in last year's double-overtime semifinal match with Messiah (which the Judges, unfortunately, found themselves on the wrong end of).
Andrew asked his dad for some advice on what to expect when the Judges went to their first Final Four. "He told me to enjoy it because you never know when you're going to get back again," Andrew recalled. "The hotel, the special treatment by the NCAA, the experience and knowledge that you're among the elite teams in Division III is a special feeling."
After falling 1-0 in the semifinals to Calvin during his sophomore season in Salem, Virginia, the team was better able to focus on the task at hand in last year's trip to Greensboro, North Carolina. Though they were on the wrong end of the score again, the team was as prepared as they could have been and played an outstanding game against the preeminent program in Division III.
Andrew has been having fun with soccer for as long as he can remember, and he's even become a bit of a minor celebrity in Major League Soccer. During the summer before his senior year of high school, Andrew and a teammate wore a couple of horse masks to a New England Revolution game. When the ball traveled to the right-hand corner of Gillette Stadium, Andrew and his pal found themselves displayed prominently on the Jumbotron. MLSSoccer.com wrote about him and a legend was born.
"It was a really funny thing that I didn't expect to take off, but it took off!" Andrew remembered. Now, the camera guys know him, and whenever he gets back, he knows the spotlight will be on.
The spotlight will be on Andrew and the Judges this weekend, as they take on the University of Rochester on Friday night at 5 p.m. and Emory University Sunday at 11 a.m. The games are the first of doubleheaders with the women's team. Friday's contest will be a Parent's Weekend featured event, while Sunday's games will honor the Brandeis seniors during the pregame ceremonies.