TopDrawerSoccer.com caught up with members of the class of 2014 as they mull options over where to play collegiately.
Kristen Dodson, Forward, Sockers FC ECNL U16
When it comes to picking a school, Kristen Dodson isn’t looking to go too far away from her native Illinois.
“I am looking for a Division 1 program that has a good balance between academics and soccer,” she wrote TopDrawerSoccer.com in an email. “I would also like the school to be close enough to my home so that my family would have a better opportunity to watch me play.”
The Sockers FC forward has been entertaining interest from a variety of different schools, saying she’s received somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 through 50 emails as the recruiting process has run its course.
Despite a hectic schedule, Dodson has had a chance to hit the road and check out a few of the schools in person.
“It is difficult right now to fit many visits in with my school and soccer schedules but I have visited Loyola University as well as the Notre Dame University so far,” she said. “I had a weekend visit set up with the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky, but due to a last minute conflict with one of the coaches we are in the process of rescheduling."
Dodson has plenty of other schools she would like to check out, and although the current school year is winding down, she’s in no rush to make a decision.
“I would like to have made a decision by the fall of my junior year,” she added.
Hannah Ciolek, Goalkeeper, Penn Fusion U15
The college process has been a very thorough process for sophomore Hannah Ciolek.
“I’ve basically narrowed it down to two different groups then branched off that,” she wrote in an email. “First, academically speaking, the school must have the major I’m looking into, or at least have courses that I can take that will set me up for graduate school. For example, I’m hoping to major in something pre-physical therapy.
“Secondly, on the soccer side, I’m looking for a program that is competitive, has a dedicated and close team, has good facilities, a stellar coaching staff, and somewhere where it just feels right.”
The shot-stopper for Penn Fusion and native of Delaware has unsurprisingly caught the eye of a number of top programs in the Northeast.
“So far, most of the colleges that have contacted me have been from my region of the country such as ACC, Big 10, Big East, Patriot League, Atlantic 10, America East, the Ivy League and others,” she said.
Like most talented girls her age, free weekends are few and far between, so she’s tried to kill two birds when on the road with the Fusion.
“I’ve made many drive-through visits while playing in tournaments, league games, or on my few free weekends,” she said. “I have made unofficial visits and have attended a few one-day camps. When there are so many options, one-day camps have been easier for me to get the feel for multiple programs than full week camps.”
As she whittles down her options – she’d like to make a decision sometime during her junior year – Ciolek keeps the two-fold goal in mind of landing somewhere to get the most of a program on and off the field.
“I’m hoping to attend a school that has a great education firstly, but also fits my own personal checklist,” she explained. “The schools that I’ve looked at all have had different qualities that I really like. The school that I hope to go to will be the one that when I walk off the campus I feel very excited and have the rush of energy that pushes me to be a better player.”
Charlotte Brascia, Forward, Heat FC U16
Charlotte Brascia is a clutch goal-scorer.
The sophomore forward put her name in the record books this season when she led her school to a state title with back-to-back game-winning goals in the playoffs.
In the Sunset Region Championship game, Brascia netted the winning tally midway through the second half in 1-0 win over Centennial. It was the first Sunset Region title in 12 years for her school, Bishop Gorman.
Two days later, she was at it again with the game-winner in the 10th minute in a 4-0 win in the Class 4A Southern Nevada Championship. She added another before half to seal the win.
With ice in her veins and a right peg that makes goalies tremble, Brascia is a highly sought after prospect in the 2014 graduating class.
“I have been in contact with over twenty top Division 1 programs,” she told TopDrawerSoccer.com over email. The former U15 National Team forward declined to name the universities.
“I will say the schools I’m seriously considering all have what I’m looking for in academics, student life and soccer.”
The 15-year-old standout has started the process of trimming the list of potential destinations to a more manageable number.
“I’m still narrowing down my choice,” Brascia said. “I think I started my college search with eighty schools and now my list is down to ten.”
The pensive striker added that there are three factors for her in the search for a school.
“The first is academics,” she said. “Does it meet my degree choice and does it have a degree program I can see myself choosing as a career? I also consider the ‘school within the school’ when looking at academic programs.
“Secondly, I look at the proximity of the school. Most people think of proximity as location only but to me it means does the school have a nearness to what I hold dear in my heart. Lastly I have to just follow my gut when it comes to college choice.”
For the third factor, she added that her sister, Meghan, going through the process taught her to make “smart decisions, take the recruiting process slow and follow my gut instinct.” Meghan is a freshman at the University of Akron.
With big sis’ guidance, Charlotte looks set to make one coaching staff very happy in the coming months.
“I hope the coach that selects me sees my potential and dedication,” she said. “And is willing to work with me to help me develop into the type of player who is going to impact their program.”