Central Bucks West seniors Amanda Fleischut, Deanna DiCroce and Taylor Viniarski inked their names on letters of intent at a special signing ceremony on Wednesday, Feb 4.
Deanna DiCroce – Lafayette University (Field hockey)
Final list of colleges: Bucknell, Drexel, Lafayette
Major: Psychology or pre-med
Reasons for choosing Lafayette: “The academics are very, very high. It’s so close to an Ivy League school, and that was one aspect. The other aspect was the field hockey because the coaches at Lafayette are some of the best coaches I could imagine playing under.”
When did the idea of playing hockey at the collegiate level become a reality? “Ever since I started back in eighth grade, I really found it was my niche and my passion, and I really wanted to pursue it. I started on a club team (Mystyx), and that went really, really well and started the whole progression of wanting to play in college.
“After two years of Mystyx, I switched over to another club, WC Eagles, and the coaching I received there from Richard and Jun Kentwell was unbelievable. I thank them so much. I owe a lot to them for where I am now. Ever since I started, I knew I wanted to play in college. I was never really good at something until field hockey.”
Coach Alison Stone says: “Deanna had her eyes on the prize from the very beginning. That drive created a monster really. You could see that from all the goals she scored. She is an overt competitor. She knows what she wants, and she goes for it. It’s a dangerous thing for another team to see a player like her.
“Just her improvement from her junior year to her senior year – it was her work ethic that got her there. You have to learn how to be a goal scorer, and she did learn how to do it. I don’t think she was her junior year, but her senior year she knew what it was about, what she needed to do to score.”
Amanda Fleischut – Drexel University (Field Hockey)
Final list of colleges: Drexel, Bucknell, Cornell, Penn State, Lehigh
Major: Pre-med/health services
Reasons for choosing Drexel: “I loved the school both for soccer and field hockey. I guess it came down to the offer. I love the city, the atmosphere. My parents would take me down there for shows. I can step out the door and say, ‘Oh, where do I want to go?’ It’s only a train ride away. If I ever need to come home, it’s easy. It’s close but not too close.”
When did the idea of playing hockey at the collegiate level become a reality? “I thought all my life I was going to be playing soccer. When it came down to it, coaches were telling me, ‘Amanda, you’re really good at field hockey. You have a chance?’ I always thought about it, but I never played club (hockey) because all my money and time was spent on soccer.
“I sent a video and got a ton of offers. It was like ‘You have to be kidding me. Why didn’t I do this from the beginning?’ Wow, I never thought about it, and to have it totally change around, I’m just amazed and so grateful.”
Coach Alison Stone says: “I didn’t want to push her too hard to play hockey. Working with (former Lafayette coach) Ann Gold her junior year – she had an even better perspective about Amanda’s ability. We both talked to her about playing hockey in college her junior year. She was really on the fence. She wasn’t sure how much interest she would get.
“After her senior season started, we made a tape, and we got great feedback. She has this understanding of the game that comes from being on a great soccer team but translates so well to the hockey field. It’s that phase of the game that’s she’s exceptional – understanding both attack and defense. She’s only going to improve. She has a great work ethic, and she’s going to get much, much better.”
Taylor ‘TJ’ Viniarski – Campbell University (Soccer)
Final college list: Campbell, Western Carolina, Highpoint, James Madison
Major: Education or pharmaceutical science
Reasons for choosing Campbell: “I really wanted a change, have a different experience, and that’s why I was searching schools that were mainly down south. I loved the campus. The coaches were really awesome, and I connected with the girls. It just seemed like the right place for me overall.”
When did the idea of playing soccer at the collegiate level become a reality? “I have been playing basketball for years. I always played basketball and soccer. When I got to West, I really started concentrating on soccer. I realized I wanted to get better and better and see how far I could go.
“I started contacting schools, and I got a lot of responses. Basketball died down, and I really wanted to concentrate on soccer because my dad played soccer for Temple, and I wanted to see if I could do the same.
“It was always like ‘what if?’ ‘maybe I can,’ so why not try it, go all out, play my hardest, contact as many schools as I wanted to, and when you get responses, it’s just fulfilling. It’s very rewarding.”
Coach Chris Freudig says: “TJ is the consummate team player. She loves to score goals, and when she came in and played as a freshman and sophomore, that was really the important part. Then you saw a transformation last year into doing whatever helped the team.
“Coming in second in the state meant a lot of kids had to really do a lot of sacrificing, and she was one of them. She gave up a lot of individual stats and individual accolades for the benefit of the team. We used her more on the flank to contain space and control players on the other team. At the same time, it was TJ that set up the game-winning goal in the state semifinals.
“Although a lot of people only look at stats, her value last year was so much more for the team. It shows maturity and growth in her as a player. Instead of worrying about just me and scoring goals, now it’s, ‘I don’t care about me. I don’t care if I score any goals. If the team wins, that’s what matters.’”