Finding His Way: Poon-Lewis Finds Success Far From Home

named to the Northeast-10 Conference’s All-Rookie Team

 

November 2, 2017

By Tyler Aragao, Staff Writer

For Jadel Poon-Lewis, the path to college soccer wasn’t as smooth as one would think. A phenom in his freshman season, Poon-Lewis took Franklin Pierce by storm. He started in all 17 games for the Ravens, winning 11 while boasting a 1.31 goals-against average and three shutouts. Poon-Lewis was named to the Northeast-10 Conference’s All-Rookie Team at the end of last season. However, for the Trinidad and Tobago native, playing at Franklin Pierce wasn’t a part of his initial plan. Not even close.

“It didn’t work out as expected and was a much more difficult process,” said Poon-Lewis, who hails from Diego Martin, an urban city on the small island nation. Soccer presented Poon-Lewis with opportunities, including the chance to play for his home country, which was not only an honor, but the gateway to college soccer in America.

Like most young athletes, Poon-Lewis had high aspirations, with Division I NCAA schools being the target. To his surprise, the interest wasn’t there. Poon-Lewis’ luck turned when an opportunity at the University of Tampa opened up. His head coach for the Trinidad and Tobago national team had a connection with the school, and it appeared Poon-Lewis would be taking his talent to western Florida. Poon-Lewis’ coach had played at the University of Tampa, where he took the field alongside current Franklin Pierce head coach Roy Fink. The connection resulted in Fink seeing Poon-Lewis play and, not long after, Poon-Lewis was on his way to New England. Franklin Pierce, and its rural New Hampshire setting, represented a stark difference from tropical Trinidad. “It’s not something I planned, but it happened,” said Poon-Lewis

Transitioning from the tropical climate of Trinidad to the variable climate of New England was a difficult adjustment for Poon-Lewis. During his freshman season, the Ravens were playing against Saint Rose in cold and damp conditions. “I was freezing, my hands were going numb and I couldn’t feel the ball,” he said. The adjustments were constant, on and off the pitch, however, Poon-Lewis found a similarity between the small community feel at Franklin Pierce and the island lifestyle. “There is more to do in Trinidad, unlike Rindge, but on campus, the environment is like that of home.” Finding those positive aspects helped Poon-Lewis settle into school, and he hasn’t looked back since.

Now, Poon-Lewis has completed his sophomore season at Franklin Pierce, and he has seen his own mindset take a step forward. A more mature and composed keeper now than last year, Poon-Lewis credits his international experience for it. “Competing with the best in the country elevated my confidence,” said Poon-Lewis. After competing in the 2017 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship, Poon-Lewis’ confidence took to new heights coming into his sophomore season.

Since arriving in Rindge, Poon-Lewis has taken a stranglehold of the net, as he has made 33 consecutive starts and played in every game since he arrived on campus. With 18 wins through two seasons, Poon-Lewis has quickly established himself and could be on track to finish as one of the best keepers the program has ever seen. His 1.18 goals against average puts him third in program history, while his .757 save percentage puts him just outside the top-seven with still two more seasons left to play, and his seven shutouts put him ninth in program history.

Poon-Lewis never envisioned coming to Franklin Pierce. Like many others, he didn’t know where Rindge was, yet by some force he found his way here. He hasn’t looked back since.


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