By Gianna Addario
---- — It took Alana Vecchiarello a little more than year to go through the entire college application process. Over the past 12 months, the Hamilton-Wenham senior visited a half-dozen schools, but decided that Merrimack College was the right plateau to further her already blossoming soccer career.
Along with fellow Peabody native Kayla Bucci, who is also slated to play for the Warriors next fall, Vecchiarello joins a cast of three other local girls already in the Division 2 program.
“When I visited Merrimack, I met with the team while they were doing their training, I noticed right away that this was a team I would want to play for because it seemed like a close knit family,” said Vecchiarello. “All of the girls were focused and hard working and they still had time for fun during their training.
“Choosing a school is a long process but knowing that I wanted to choose a school close to home made my decision bit easier.”
The Generals captain was named the 2012 Cape Ann League Most Valuable Player and scored a league-high 19 regular season goals, including one highly-crafty bicycle kick against CAL rival Masconomet. Vecchiarello guided the Generals to a 15-2-2 record and into the Division 2 quarterfinals.
“Alana is what we considered a nucleus player,” Hamilton-Wenham Alvi Ibanez said last fall. “We sometimes based the team around her ability.”
Vecchiarello, who plays soccer year round for North Shore United, capped off her senior season at H-W with 20 total goals and 25 points. She helped Hamilton-Wenham to a CAL Div. 1 championship title and brought veteran leadership to the young squad.
There was no question as to whether or not Vecchiarello would continue her soccer career in college, as the speedy forward has always dreamed of taking her skills to the next level.
“After making my decision I’m both excited and relieved,” added Vecchiarello. “It’s great to know I’m going to a top choice of mine and I get to play on the soccer team as well.”
The 18-year-old was also very much focused on the academic aspect of the college process and felt that Merrimack offered the perfect balance between school work and soccer.
“Merrimack has the academic program that I am most interested in which helped with my decision,” Vecchiarello noted. “My goal has always been to play at the highest division that I am capable of at a school that I feel fits me best. Merrimack feels like the right fit overall with academics and soccer as well.”
Vecchiarello plans on majoring in health science to pursue personal training.
The Warriors went 11-8-1 last fall, including the program’s 28th consecutive appearance in the Northeast-10 Conference Tournament. Head coach Gabe Mejail started at the inception of the program in 1984, now in his 30th season at Merrimack and even recorded his 400th career win in 2010.
As a true scorer, Vecchiarello opens up many options for the Warriors with her speed and dribbling skills on the pitch. She’ll report to double sessions in mid August.