Lou Rabito: Conestoga's Gonzalez twins to go separate ways - to Lehigh and Lafayette

Posted: October 21, 2012

Andrew and Danny Gonzalez, senior soccer players at Conestoga, are very much what you'd expect identical twins to be.

They have been best friends since they were born, as Danny put it. They have the same friends. They do everything together, Andrew said. They have the same car. And they've been playing soccer, always on the same team, since they were 4.

They even took recruiting trips together to Lafayette and Lehigh.

So when Danny Gonzalez committed in the spring to Lehigh, and Andrew Gonzalez was down to two finalists, Lehigh and Lafayette, the older-by-a-minute brother had a decision to make - a virtual 50-50 ball in the game of life.

He could head his future toward Lehigh and continue to be teammates with his twin. Or he could head it toward Lehigh's chief rival, about 15 miles to the northeast, where he thought the curriculum better suited his needs.

Andrew Gonzalez made his choice one day after Danny, and thinks he nailed it.

"I definitely thought about it," Andrew Gonzalez said of joining his brother, "but it had to be a decision for myself, so I decided Lafayette was a better fit for me. He thinks Lehigh is better for him. Whatever, to make us both happy."

"In the end of the day," Danny Gonzalez added, "it's what's best for us as individuals, because we're individuals, and it just didn't end up going to the same school."

The next one to four weeks should be extra special for the brothers, part of the defending state champions in Class AAA, as they count down their days as scholastic teammates.

Conestoga finished an impressive regular season Thursday, going 15-3 overall and winning the Central League with a 9-2 mark. The Pioneers are hoping for a high seed when the District 1 Class AAA bracket is announced Sunday. The playoffs will begin Tuesday.

The Gonzalez twins, 18, started in soccer when they lived in Fairfax, Va., taking up the sport that their father, Carlos, competed in at Winthrop College and their older brothers, Carlos and Michael, also played.

They continued playing when they were in the fifth grade and their family moved to this area. Also members of the FC Delco club team, they have been on Conestoga's varsity since their freshman year, starters since they were sophomores.

They have competed against each other on some basketball teams, in one-on-one hoops in the yard, and in video games. But never, they said, in soccer.

Andrew Gonzalez, who is 5-foot-11 and 150 pounds, leads the Pioneers in goals with 12 - despite playing a defensive position, center back - and has added two assists.

Danny Gonzalez, who is 5-10 and 150 pounds and wears his hair slightly longer, has four goals and five assists as a center midfielder.

They are among four senior captains on Conestoga, with Sean Tait and T-Ben Donnie.

"The twins are surprisingly different," Conestoga coach Dave Zimmerman said. "You'd expect identical twins to kind of be the same. Andrew is much more social. Danny is, I think, more responsible, hardworking. I don't know if they intentionally have drifted in that direction to set themselves apart.

"My analogy is, if you had a restaurant, Andrew would be like the front-of-the-house guy, schmoozing with all the customers and right out there with all the people, and Danny would be running the business in the back, the back of the house, making sure everything is getting done."

The two weren't aiming to go to rival colleges. It just worked out that way academically.

Andrew Gonzalez wanted a liberal arts college where he might major in economics, and he liked the economics program at Lafayette. Danny Gonzalez is leaning more toward accounting, and picked Lehigh with that in mind.

"Definitely it was a little weird thing at first, going to rival schools, but I'm sure it'll be a fun rivalry and be fun games to play against him," Andrew Gonzalez said.

Added Danny: "We've been competing our whole lives, although we've been on the same team. There's always been like a competition between me and him, so going to rival schools is somewhat justified, I guess."

The decision to go their separate ways surprised Zimmerman at first.

"But I think what they've set up for themselves is a situation where they can kind of be on their own but still close enough that it wouldn't be hard for them to get together," Zimmerman said.

And, of course, they will see each other when Lafayette plays Lehigh. Their parents, the boys said, are already prepared for those games.

Showing equal allegiance to each twin, they plan to sit in the middle of the stands.

Contact Lou Rabito at 215-854-2916 or rabitol@phillynews.com.

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