By Tim Goodenow for MSNsportsNET.com
September 6, 2009
Throughout the 2009 season, MSNsportsNET.com will get to know the nine freshmen on the West Virginia women’s soccer team. Today’s edition features forward Nicolette DeLaurentis.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Life is all about decisions. And the older one gets, the more complicated they tend to become. So, when it came time for women’s soccer standout Nicolette DeLaurentis to pick a school to continue her playing career, it must have been stressful on the Sicklerville, N.J., native right?
Well, not exactly.
It was actually the opposite for DeLaurentis. The 5-foot-3 forward needed just one visit to the Mountain State to find a place called home over the next four years.
DeLaurentis visited Morgantown with her teammate and best friend Sara Keane, along with their fathers. The enjoyable recruiting trip led to a second visit, this time with the company of their mothers.
“I had great visits and kept smiling with Sara as we toured campus,” recalled DeLaurentis. “I remember sitting in the locker room and knowing right away that West Virginia University was the place for me.”
As for the connection that the three-time all-state player had with West Virginia coach Nikki Izzo-Brown - it was an instant one.
“We drove home and I called Nikki that night,” laughed DeLaurentis. “It was only a couple hours later and I committed. I told her I was sold and wanted to be a Mountaineer.”
Having pledged her affection for the Old Gold and Blue, DeLaurentis prepared herself for a grueling preseason camp.
“It was definitely as tough as advertised. No matter how many camps you’ve gone to or how many hours you’ve put in preparing for this, it didn’t even come close,” shared DeLaurentis. “The intensity level, day in, day out, was probably the biggest difference. I knew quickly that I was playing big-time Division I soccer.”
DeLaurentis adapted, perhaps large in part to an early arrival on campus over the summer.
“I thought coming in early would allow me to get a head start on fitness and to get a few credit hours in by taking a class,” said DeLaurentis, who guided her Gloucester Catholic High to a pair of state championships. “My previous trips to campus were really hectic but being here for a few months in the summer let me settle in without all the craziness going on.”
The head start allowed her to take reps with returning Mountaineer soccer players, all in an effort to learn the WVU system and try to earn playing time as soon as possible.
“I want to contribute in whatever way possible,” said DeLaurentis of her expectations as a rookie. “I’d like to score some goals and help our team win the BIG EAST and make a postseason run. Nikki has this program on the verge of winning a national title and I want to play a role in accomplishing that.”
All newcomers must adjust to the collegiate style and speed of the game. For DeLaurentis, those modifications are well underway.
“It was definitely an adjustment but something I am getting better with each day,” said the forward. “And I think I have embraced that challenge. The speed of play is so much quicker but also manageable.”
It’s just a matter of time before DeLaurentis finds the back of the net for WVU. Her goal-scoring mentality was on display earlier this week against Duquesne, where she logged 30 minutes off the bench to provide an offensive spark.
The average student on campus struggles to decide where to live, what classes to take and how much time to study for their first exam. The mature-beyond-her-years DeLaurentis is eager to learn and has already settled on a major.
“This might sound a little nerdy but I don’t mind school,” said DeLaurentis of handling the work load of school and soccer. “I have always liked the challenge of doing well in both.
"I want to be a physical therapist and I know what kind of effort and commitment it takes to get there with being a student-athlete. It will be tough at time but I know the end result is worth it.”
It’s clear DeLaurentis has her priorities in order and possesses the rare ability to make tough decisions look easy. And by making the right choices and cultivating the right habits, DeLaurentis is setting herself up for success both on and off the field.