Nick Zucco didn’t appear in any games for Southern New Hampshire a year after spending two seasons at Worcester State.
But he knew he would be on the field this year and spent his summer preparing for the 2015 campaign. The extra work made him a better goalkeeper in the long run.
“This summer I played PDL for Western Mass Pioneers and worked hard to improve my deficiencies for the upcoming season, as well as gain more game time experience,” Zucco said. “I came into the pre-season fit and sharp, knowing it was going to be a competitive battle for a starting role. I was lucky enough to be given the chance to start, and play all season.”
Zucco has taken advantage of his opportunities, allowing only eight goals, making 48 saves and recording seven shutouts for a Penmen team that is in the Sweet 16. He credits part of his success to being pushed in practice and to the defense in front of him. The Penmen have allowed only 10 goals all season.
“The other keepers have challenged me all season, as well as my goalkeeper coach, Adam Perron,” Zucco said. “Coach Perron has further helped me improve on my deficiencies and keep me sharp throughout the season, allowing me to play to my full potential. It also helps having a hard-working defensive group in front of me.”
Zucco said the team has come a long way since the start of the year and is eager to continue its quest for a national title. The next challenge is LIU Post.
“It was a tough start to the season, having so many new faces in the locker room, while also losing many key players from last season. As the season progressed, the team has found a way to overcome adversity and continue to succeed,” Zucco said. “Our focus is on LIU Post, and that is the only game were worried about right now. We have done a good job taking the season one game at a time, and not allowing past success to influence our mindset this season.”
Zucco said his experience as a college soccer player has been beneficial, not only to his growth as a player, but to his growth as a student as well.
“The tools I have learned on having to deal with pressure on such a large stage and the preparation that goes into each game, has helped me to become a better student,” Zucco said. “Having to balance schoolwork and soccer has taught me a great sense of time management.”
As for competing in the NCAA tournament, it’s been nothing short of a thrill.
“It has been an honor to play in such a competitive environment in front of a great supporting home crowd,” Zucco said. “I get to do something that not all college athletes have the opportunity to do, which is compete on a national stage year in and year out.”