Eric Beiersdorfer / Lantern photographer
As children growing up in Silver Spring, Md., Chris and Parnell Hegngi were inseparable. The now-junior forward and senior midfielder were also, in many ways, typical brothers.
“We were really competitive,” Chris Hegngi said, smiling. “In our basement at home we would always play one versus one and the loser would have to do something embarrassing in front of the other.”
Parnell Hegngi added, “Like do the other person’s chores for the week or something like that.”
Their competitive nature carried over into high school.
Only a year apart in age, the brothers played soccer together at DeMatha Catholic High School. Over their three years together, the Hegngi’s helped lead the Stags to a 56-1-5 record and a No. 1 national ranking among high schools during Parnell Hegngi’s senior year.
“We had a pretty successful run in high school,” Parnell Hegngi said. “It was pretty fun playing with (Chris).”
Following his senior year, Parnell Hegngi enrolled at St. Francis University and joined its soccer program.
Chris Hegngi scored 25 goals and tallied five assists his senior year at DeMatha and was named an ESPN Gatorade Player of the Year Candidate.
When Ohio State men’s soccer coach John Bluem recruited Chris Hegngi prior to the 2009 season, he knew he would be improving his team’s scoring ability. But he didn’t know that he would eventually be adding two offensive players.
“Chris was a very sought-after recruit when he was coming out of high school,” Bluem said. “We were fortunate to get him.”
Chris Hegngi started all 21 games as a freshman while tallying three goals and four assists in helping the Buckeyes earn an NCAA tournament berth.
Following his freshman season, Chris Hegngi began talking to his brother about transferring to OSU as well.
“After the season was over and I thought about it, I saw our numbers would be a little low,” Chris Hegngi said. “I saw that Parnell was a player that could fit in really well with our team.”
Bluem said he hadn’t considered recruiting Parnell Hegngi.
“To be honest with you, I didn’t even know that Chris had an older brother,” Bluem said. “We were just recruiting Chris … and by that time Parnell was already at St. Francis, so we didn’t really know about him.”
With Chris Hegngi already at OSU and their sister Beatrice Hegngi studying at Capital University, Parnell Hegngi transferred the next year after talking the move over with his parents.
“(Chris) gave me a really good recommendation to the coaches and they told me to come out to preseason,” Parnell Hegngi said.
“Parnell was a bonus,” Bluem said. “I think the family knew all along that we would take him. He’s been a nice addition.”
During their first collegiate season together, the Hegngi’s agree that their game against Akron was their most memorable game together.
“We were losing 2-1 and we were down a man,” Chris Hegngi said. “We both came in and I think we had a pretty positive impact on the team.”
The game was the first action for Parnell Hegngi in an OSU uniform and the duo helped to force an eventual tie against the Zips that day.
This year, the brothers have combined for 10 goals and three assists for the Buckeyes. Chris Hegngi is the team leader in goals scored and Parnell Hegngi ranks second in assists.
“I keep kidding (Chris) that I want to see a hat trick out of him,” Bluem said. “I think he’s got the ability to be one of the top scorers in the country.”
The brothers say that they are still competitors, but focus on upstaging other teams instead of each other.
“At this stage of our lives, it’s more supportive; there’s no need to be competing,” Chris Hegngi said. “I just want him to succeed.”
Bluem said the pair plays well together, but he doesn’t think of them as brothers.
“I don’t even think about it,” Bluem said. “I just think of them as players. That’s Chris and that’s Parnell.”
The brothers are even living under one roof once again after Parnell Hegngi moved in with Chris Hegngi earlier this year, but do they still hold mini-competitions to do each other’s chores?
The brothers laughed.
“No, not anymore,” Parnell Hegngi said.