Published: April 28, 2009
Rachel Nuzzolese thinks she remembers her uniform being green, but she’s certain she was four years old.
It was a quick move in the box, a 10-yard strike that found the upper corner and an indelible moment that set into motion a chain of other moments along with the player who produces them with startling regularity.
Nuzzolese, a Rockville Centre (NY) striker, has scored too many goals to remember … well, check that, she’s scored too many goals for you to remember.
Chances are she remembers most if not all of them. She recounts that first one with the kind of vivid accuracy that could only be logged by the brain of a goal scorer at heart.
“I remember my dad standing up and clapping, and the feeling … it’s such a great feeling,” Nuzzolese said. “That’s what got me into soccer and even now I just love scoring. That’s always a goal.”
Did someone say goal?
How about the one Nuzzolese scored two weeks ago at the US U18 Women’s National camp when she beat stellar keeper Abby Smith on an effortless penalty kick? Or the hat trick she put together in last year’s CONCACAF U17 Championships against El Salvador.
For Nuzzolese, the scores are plenty and her appetite for them insatiable.
“I’d say she’s the only born goal scorer I’ve ever coached,” said Rockville Centre coach Tim Bradbury. “You don’t get many. I’ve seen her since she was 10 and the main thing that always stuck out about her is her desire to be one of the top players in her age group. Some players of her caliber would get carried away with their achievements, but soccer is a real labor of love for her.”
So the invites to national and regional teams to play alongside players like Torri Allen, Elizabeth Eddy, Alex Crown, Julia Sandridge, Hayley Brock and Michelle Cruz, or the state championship she won with her high school team aren’t the things that motivate Nuzzolese. For her, it’s something deeper.
“I know I’ve been given a gift and I want to fulfill my potential by loving the game and maximizing my potential,” she said. “In everything that I do, I want to be the best.”
You don’t get to be the best without a healthy dose of discipline, and Nuzzolese’s was developed from the beginning when her father would film early soccer matches so she could analyze them and make adjustments.
She reads books on mental toughness and doesn’t shy away from workouts.
“I’m usually the first one at practice and the last one to leave,” Nuzzolese said. “I do extra running after practice, and I always want to be better than my opponent. That’s always been my mindset.”
Nuzzolese brings a physical strength to the field that speaks to her hard work. At a sturdy 5-foot-7, she’s not easily knocked off the ball. It doesn’t hurt that her brother is a fitness model and can impart jewels on health and nutrition.
Nuzzolese’s soccer model is Wayne Rooney, the strong Manchester United Striker. Her motivation to reach the professional ranks is in part motivated by her desire to meet him.
No one doubts that she has the skills that could take her places.
“She can hit the ball with power and technically she’s advanced,” Bradbury said. “She’s very coachable and always listens. She has very strong character and her family is very supportive.”
Nuzzolese has committed to Wake Forest for 2010 when she’ll take her extensive database of highlight reel scores with her to the collegiate level.
Here’s to more goals, and memories.