Villanova vs. Georgetown Tickets
By Mike Sheridan
Villanova Media Relations
For Conor and Shane Bradley, sons of suburban Philadelphia whose soccer skill earned them a place in the Union Academy by the time they reached high school, Talen Energy Stadium always loomed large on the horizon. The sprawling edifice in Chester, Pa., overlooked not just the Delaware River, but the hopes of every soccer savvy teen who played on its surrounding fields.
On Friday night this pair of sophomore twin brothers, each of whom plays an integral role in Villanova’s defensive success, will get their first crack at playing upon the pristine grass pitch when the Wildcats host No. 9 Georgetown at 7 p.m.
Adult tickets for this unique night of soccer are $15 and children will be admitted for $5. Parking in the stadium lot is free. Tickets may be purchased by clicking the link above this story.
“This means the world to us,” states Conor Bradley, a versatile performer who is usually stationed in the defensive midfield. “We were part of the Academy and we were always on the practice fields. The stadium was the goal. The feeling now is hard to explain.”
“I remember playing with the Union (Academy) in my senior year of high school,” adds Shane Bradley, a starter at center back since entering the lineup in 2016. “All of us were itching to get on that field. They told us ‘one day you’ll be there.’ When we found we would be playing a game at Talen Energy Stadium this year, we were just so excited. Words can’t describe how excited I am about this.”
The connection between the twins is, as you might expect, strong. In fact, it’s not uncommon for one brother to help complete the other’s thought.
“Just being around the sport for so much of our lives kind of ,..“, offered Conor before pausing briefly. “Shaped us and helped us learn to love it so much,” added Shane to complete the thought.
That bond has been a constant thread through their lives. Each describes the other as his best friend and when you see one on campus, chances are the other isn’t too far behind.
“We always do things together, have the same friends,” notes Shane. “We’re kind of a package deal.”
There was never a doubt that the duo would share the same address when they reached college. Fortunately, both had the kind of skill and academic credentials that made them an appealing option to a host of Division I soccer programs. Villanova, though, always had a leg up in the minds of the twins.
“The main thing that stood out to us about Villanova was its culture,” stated Conor. “When we came here we noticed that it really was a family. There was this camaraderie that you could feel instantly. I think we thrive in places where we feel at home.”
Villanova’s proximity to their Havertown home – approximately 20 minutes from campus – didn’t hurt the Wildcats’ chances. Shane Bradley recalls a standard line they shared as children with a close family friend.
“We used to say that we were going to commit to Villanova to play soccer at a very young age,” Shane added. “It was always kind of a dream for us.”
Added Conor: “The coaching staff really had a lot to do with it. You could tell they had a plan for this program and what it could become.”
The pair made the decision near the end of their junior year in high school. When they officially enrolled in August of 2016, they were part of a Top 20 recruiting class that was immediately tasked with bolstering matters at the defensive end. The Wildcats would go on to open the season with a trio of newcomers in the starting lineup: Shane Bradley, Nikkye DePoint and Andres Camacho. (Sean Teixeira, also a rookie, would ultimately shoulder a starting role on the outside after Camacho went out with an injury).
“It wasn’t easy,” Shane said of that period. “But I will say that the experience with the Union did prepare me for it. I felt I could keep up from a skill standpoint and the physical part has always been one of my strengths. Once we got through the preseason, it felt more comfortable. The captains, Will Steiner and everyone, really helped with the transition.”
Conor Bradley made steady gains over the course of his first season on the college level. A versatile performer, he was used in several roles before settling into a spot in the defensive midfield that became his in the second half, as VU made its push toward its first NCAA Tournament berth. He started 12 games on the season as he steadily settled into his spot.
“As the season went on,” Conor noted, “I kind of figured it out and fought for that position. The help from the upperclassmen, guys like ‘Dre (Andreas Bartosinski) taught me a lot. I kind of grew into it.”
The two are again mainstays for a Wildcats side that is 6-6 overall, 2-2 in the BIG EAST heading into Friday night’s match against the Hoyas, who are atop the conference with a 3-1 mark in league play (8-2-1 overall). Shane Bradley has started all 12 games in the central defense while Conor Bradley missed four September games with an injury but has been in the thick of things since returning on Sept. 30 at DePaul.
Villanova posted a huge 2-1 win over Xavier last Saturday to snap a three-game losing skid and feels as though a corner has been turned after a tough patch.
“Saturday was huge for us,” added Conor. “Scoring, being on our front foot, gave us a little momentum to take with us for the rest of the season. The work rate we showed Saturday has kind of been the theme of our practices and can be for the rest of our season.”
The six days between games – spread over fall break, no less – has been a boost in the players’ view. Now they must find a way to move past the Christmas morning feel that the run-up to Friday night’s opening whistle may create. Of course, that won’t stop the twins from spreading the word prior this week.
“We’ve been telling everyone we know to come out, family, friends, everyone in the Irish community,” Shane added.,
And why not?
After all, it’s not every day when you get to take your first step on to your own Field of Dreams.