Seven Staples standouts sign National Letters of Intent
Lauren Garcia and Maggie Walsh have been playing soccer together and against one another nearly as long as they have been able to walk. Both have developed into outstanding midfielders over the past decade as they've honed their skills for both club and school teams.
The two have spent the last four years together on the Staples soccer team, helping steadily build the program which culminated with a memorable 2014 season. After leading the Wreckers to an FCIAC title and the Class LL quarterfinals, the duo will now head their separate ways and attempt to crack the lineups of Division I programs.
Garcia (Seton Hall) and Walsh (Fairfield) were two of seven stellar athletes to sign Division I National Letters of Intent on Wednesday.
They joined track standouts Erica Hefnawy (Boston College), Olivia Wiener (Dartmouth) and Bridget van Dorsten (Brown), pitcher Ian Burns (Columbia) and linebacker Nicolaas Esposito (Bryant) in a ceremony at the Staples cafeteria.
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Garcia, an All-FCIAC first-teamer as well as All-State, spearheaded a Wreckers attack that flourished throughout the season. Garcia scored a goal late in the FCIAC final to give Staples a share of the title -- its first since 1995.
"I'm really proud of how far the team has come," Garcia said. "I'm lucky and proud to be a part of that."
Walsh did all the dirty work in the center of the pitch, often denying the opposition opportunities to attack. Her unselfish play allows her teammates to drive forward, including Garcia.
"I loved (Fairfield); the coaches are awesome," Walsh said. "The facilities are so good now, they are resodding the field. It's a really good place for me."
Hefnawy comes from a family of runners, including her brother who competes in the pole vault for Manhattan College. The younger Hefnawy didn't try running until her freshman season, but quickly made a big leap. She was a consistent contender in every race she ran and caught the eye of the Eagles.
"It's kind of surreal and I don't think I imagined myself doing any of what I did," Hefnawy said. "If you asked me four years ago would I commit to a school, I probably say yes. But not knowing where; I'm so excited and it's a huge stepping stone for me."
Hefnawy was third in the 800 meter run at both the Class LL and State Open in outdoor track last spring. She also finished fourth in the 1,000 in 2014.
Wiener won the 300 hurdles and the javelin at last's year's outdoor State Open. During the indoor season, Wiener stars in the sprints and relay events.
"It's nice to have this celebration with two of my teammates and the rest of my team today," Wiener said. "It's been a magical experience."
van Dorsten has steadily improved in the jumps over the past two years, culminating with fourth-place finishes in the high jump and triple jump at the Class LL outdoor championships. All three helped Staples capture the Class LL indoor and outdoor titles.
"The months that I've known, I've been able to relax and enjoy the sport a lot more because I have the stress off my back," van Dorsten said. "I'm excited to go to college; it's one of my happiest moments."
Hefnawy, Weiner and van Dorsten have other things on their mind aside from college commitments. The FCIAC indoor championships are set for Thursday in New Haven.
Burns follows in the footsteps of David Speer, who went to Columbia from 2011-2014 and was drafted by the Cleveland Indians last year. Burns helped the Wreckers go 17-5 last season as a member of a deep rotation, one he will lead this spring.
"(Speer) just told me about the great atmosphere there; being in New York City," Burns said. "They have a great coaching staff there and they've had a lot of success with pitchers. He just told me if he had to do it over again he wouldn't change it, and that got me there."
Esposito will soon be taking down opposing running backs at FCS member Bryant. A linebacker, Esposito tallied 118 tackles last fall and 102 tackles as a junior.
"He worked so hard in the offseason to become the football player he is today, his ceiling is very high," Wreckers coach Marce Petroccio said. "The best part about Nick is that he is a leader in the classroom and the hallways."