Feb. 21, 2014
Vanderbilt soccer will introduce each member of its 2014 signing class over the next few weeks. We begin with a High School All-American: Colby Ciarrocca of Montgomery, N.J.
When Vanderbilt soccer coach Derek Greene walked away from a youth club tournament in San Antonio three years ago, at least one name was etched in his mind - Colby Ciarrocca.
"I walked away from the field saying this is going to be one of the top forwards in the country," Greene said. "What is exciting about Colby is how much she has progressed over the last few years. She was relatively unknown a few years ago. She had the good fortune of being selected to join the PDA (Players Development Academy) Club out of New Jersey - one of the best clubs in the country.
"From the time she joined that team, with great coaches and great players around her, she just flourished and turned into something big-time."
Ciarrocca will step onto the Vanderbilt campus this fall after a highly decorated high school and club career in Montgomery, N.J.
The 5-foot-8 forward finished her career at Montgomery High School with school records in goals (78) and assists (45) as a four-year starter for coach Jeremy Beardsley. She helped the Cougars to a New Jersey state championship in 2012, three Central Jersey sectional championships and two Somerset County championships.
Ciarrocca was a two-time all-state selection and was named the girls soccer state player of the year by the New Jersey Star Ledger in 2012. She also was named player of the year by the Times of Trenton and the Courier News.
She has been noticed on the national stage, too.
Twice she attended Elite Clubs National League id2 soccer camps, which invite the top 30 soccer players — per age group — in the country. This past season her PDA club team won the ECNL national championship.
This fall, she was named a High School All-American by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA). She competed for the East in the Continental Tire High School Girls' All-American Game and scored a goal off a penalty kick in a 2-0 victory.
"She is an all-around forward," Greene said. "Her work ethic is top notch. She is great with her back to pressure. She handles the ball very well under pressure. She can find her teammates' feet and either create goal-scoring opportunities for them or she can spin a player and create an opportunity for herself. She has turned out to be a really good finisher over the last few years. Her vision is very good. So she is the kind of all-around forward you want to help your team score a lot of goals - whether it is an assist or her scoring."
Ciarrocca comes from an athletics-driven family. Her father, Kirk, has been a college football coach for two decades. He has coached at Rutgers, Richmond and Delaware, among others, and is currently the offensive coordinator at Western Michigan. Her mother, Kim, coached lacrosse at the University of Delaware for six years and is currently the athletic director at Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart in New Jersey.
Ciarrocca, who turns 18 in March, is undecided on a major but is excited about starting college and playing in the SEC.
"The atmosphere allows me to compete in the competitive SEC while receiving a great education at the same time," she said. "... What impresses me the most about Coach Greene is his vision for Vanderbilt soccer and his passion for developing student-athletes on and off the field."
Personal: Colby Ciarrocca... Born March 24, 1996 in Norristown, Pa.... Daughter of Kirk and Kim Ciarrocca... Has one brother, Cade (13)... Kirk is an assistant football coach at Western Michigan University... Kim was the lacrosse coach at the University of Delaware and is currently the athletic director at Stuart Country Day School in New Jersey... Undecided on a major.
More from Coach Derek Greene on Colby Ciarrocca:
"Her work rate is one of the first things you notice about her. She has a relentless desire to pursue victory and competes at a very high level every second she is on the field. She has an engine that never stops working. For us to have that up top is going to be a great asset when you add that in with other players we have.
"She is the type of kid who is going to be a handful for SEC defenses to have to worry about every game she plays. She has the ability to run by people. She is going to get stronger and have the ability to run through people. Then she is really good in the air and has a nose for the goal.
Having a player like her coming up top is going to elevate all the players around her. Our team is going to elevate her. It is just going to add competition along our front line, which is a very fierce and dangerous front line. So we're excited to add her and what she brings to the table. This is a kid when we saw her play, we were high on her from day one. There was no question about it that Colby has an opportunity to come into the college game and hopefully make a difference and make an impact right away as a freshman. We expect that with her work ethic and her talent."
(Signing day photo courtesy of Colby Ciarrocca, and action photo courtesy of R.J. Gleason)