Playing Division I college soccer has long been a dream for high-scoring Bears Andres Torres and Lindsay Macri.
By Mathew Doran
Hour Staff Writer
Lindsay Macri always knew one day she would realize her dream of playing college soccer. The only question for Norwalk High’s ultra-talented goal scorer was, where?
“It was just something she was going to do. She knew it,” said Jess Stamos, the head coach of the Norwalk girls soccer team. “It was always just assumed.”
Same thing for Andres Torres, who developed into one of the most prolific scorers in the state after moving to the United States from Colombia as a seventh-grader.
“Ever since I could remember I’ve been playing soccer,” Torres said. “I wouldn’t say I was a standout player back then, but then I came here and I started playing with older kids. That changed the way I played and I just kept getting better.”
Together, Torres and Macri combined for 42 goals last season and finished their standout careers having snapped the twine a total of 85 times. So it was only fitting they were together Monday morning in the Norwalk High School gymnasium to announce their signings to play soccer on the Division I level.
Torres, who scored 27 goals last season and finished second on Norwalk’s all-time scoring list with 60 during his four-year varsity career, will play on a partial athletic scholarship at Adelphi University of Long Island.
Adelphi is a Division II school for every sport except soccer, where the Panthers compete in the Atlantic Soccer Conference. Torres committed to Adelphi last week and expects to sign his national letter of intent in a few days.
For Torres, who was named All-New England after leading the Bears to a 15-4 overall record this past season, it was a day of celebration for his entire family.
“This means a lot to me because I’ve worked hard for this the past four years,” said Torres, a three-time AllFCIAC and two-time All-State selection. “It’s always something I wanted to do because my dad didn’t finish college and my mom didn’t finish college. They always wanted me to go and finish what they couldn’t do.”
Macri, one of the leading goal scorers in program history, will play on a full athletic scholarship at Wagner College of Staten Island, N.Y.
The Seahawks compete in the 12- team Northeast Conference along with Sacred Heart and Central Connecticut State University.
Macri, who led the Bears with 15 goals last season before finishing with 25 in her career, made a verbal commitment to Wagner shortly after making her official visit in August and signed her national letter of intent last week.
“I’m pretty proud of myself for accomplishing this,” Macri said. “It’s pretty cool to be one of the first girls from Norwalk to play Division I soccer in a while.”
By signing to play on the Division I level, both former members of the Norwalk Junior Soccer Association are blazing trails for future Norwalk High stars.
Macri is not only the first female player from Norwalk High to go to the Division I level during the five- year tenure of Stamos, but the first in school history. Teammate Karolyn Collins will be the second next year. The junior defender has already made a verbal commitment to play at Fairfield.
Macri’s signing is further proof of the improvement made by the Bears over the past few seasons.
“This sets a great example for other kids coming up into the program,” Stamos said. “It shows that this is a potential aspiration. I don’t think a lot of kids in this area are aware that they can play posthigh school and get a scholarship as well.”
Torres is living the American dream of attending college even though he wasn’t even born in this country, even though he had to work harder than most others to attain his goal.
“We have a lot of kids in our program in the same situation,” said Chris Laughton, head coach of Norwalk’s boys soccer team. “I think this sets a good example for them. It proves if you work hard enough, you can accomplish it no matter where you come from.”
Macri and Torres had other opportunities. Macri was also being heavily recruited by Bryant, Florida International and St. Michael’s, a Division III program in upstate Vermont. Torres received an early offer from Division II Bridgeport and had another on the table from Iona. Ironically, Adelphi didn’t come into the picture until Laughton was put in contact with assistant coach Adam Pullinan through a mutual friend in the Stamford men’s soccer league.
The final decisions made by Torres and Macri were based as much on academics as they were on soccer.
Macri is interested in becoming a physician’s assistant, and Wagner had the best program among her short list of schools.
“I really liked the school when I went on my visit,” she said. “It’s also close to home, and I liked what the school had to offer.”
Torres will study engineering at Adelphi, which offers a joint program with Columbia University. If Torres can maintain a 3.3 GPA over the first three years at Adelphi, he’ll be able to complete his degree at the Ivy League school.
In soccer, the Panthers will play a competitive schedule with games against Maryland of the powerful Athletic Coast Conference and two matches against Big East teams. So Torres is getting the best of both worlds.
“Just from the conversations I’ve had with the coaching staff and people I’ve talked to who have gone to Adelphi, it sounds like academically it’s going to be a great fit and athletically it’s going to be a great fit as well,” Laughton said. “They’re playing some really good teams. It’s a good opportunity for him to get some exposure with the other conferences down there.”
Torres and Macri were known for their ability to put the ball in the net, but they’re defined by the same thing: Their dedication to hard work.
Macri is expected to compete for a starting position with the Seahawks next season, according to Stamos.
“Lindsay has an incredible work ethic, which will obviously do great things for her,” Stamos said. “She’s also one of the toughest players I’ve ever seen, and those are the two things you need in college. So I think she’ll do well.”
Torres started out slowly, scoring just three goals as a freshman. After exploding for 16 as a sophomore, his confidence began to soar. Soon after that, his technical skills caught up to his blazing speed and natural ability.
“As a freshman, I remember how raw he was. He was fast, but he needed a lot of work,” Laughton said. “The reason he is where he is now is because of the hard work he’s put in. He’s one of the hardest- working kids I’ve ever met, that’s why he did so well in high school, and that why I know when he goes to college he’ll do well. In the four years I had him, he never took a drill off.”
© 2011 The Hour Newspaper.