By Jean DePlacido
---- — Kerri Zerfoss had a date in mind when she wanted to have her college plans firmly in place.
The Pingree School soccer standout wanted to know where she’d be spending her college years by June. But things happened much faster than that — three days ago, in fact — as the Peabody resident verbally committed to Northeastern University.
A defensive midfielder who is regarded as one of elite players in the nation, Zerfoss accepted a substantial scholarship from the Huskies.
“I thought it would be great if I decided where I wanted to go by June,” said Zerfoss, who also plays club soccer for Aztec (also coached by her Pingree coach, Dushawne ‘Doc’ Simpson). “I didn’t know if that would happen, but I hoped my decision would be made.
“I am so excited and now I can look to the future; I’m looking forward to the Division 1 experience. “My coaches, Doc and Javi (Javier Mejia-Blau), have helped me so much.”
Her final choice came down to Boston University or Northeastern. “I’m a Boston girl and definitely wanted to stay around here,” said Zerfoss. “My sister Kayla is going to Hofstra, which is a rival school. She’s a dancer and loves New York.”
Northeastern was at the top of the list for Zerfoss because her grandfather, Charles Cove, had taken classes there. He passed away last November, and his connection with the university was important to his granddaughter.
“I knew right away that Northeastern was the right place for me,” said Zerfoss. “I went for an overnight visit last week and that’s when they offered.
“I had previously talked to the coach (Tracey Leone) on the phone twice. We really clicked and talked for a long time. The coach came to the college night Aztec had at Danvers Indoor Sports in February, when my team scrimmaged up a level against a U17 World Cup team from Nashua, and one of the coaches was also at the Las Vegas Showcase.”
Zerfoss has been attracting lots of attention as one of the top players in her age group for quite some time. In 2012 she was invited to play for Region 1 in an Olympic Development Program that brought the best from each region together. Last year she was selected to go to Costa Rica for a tournament with the top players, and two months ago she was the only girl from Massachusetts invited to go to the 2014 US Youth Soccer ODP national training camp in Arizona. Last summer she was invited to play with Aztec in the Women’s Premier Soccer League with top college talent.
There’s another Peabody connection on the women’s soccer team there: Ashley Phillips, who played goalie for Bishop Fenwick before going on to have a great career at Clemson University (she still holds the team record for most career saves with 326) and is now the goalie for the Boston Breakers women’s pro soccer team, is an assistant coach for the Huskies.
“I have a picture of Kerri (as a 10-year-old) and Ashley together,” said Zerfoss’ mother, Peabody High Athletic Hall of Famer Sherri Zerfoss. “I’m so happy she’s going to a phenomenal academic school to play for a great coach. It’s a perfect situation for her ... and we’re so happy she’s not going too far away.”
Zerfoss said she’s thinking about majoring in sociology at Northeastern and possibly going to law school some day. She’d also like to coach down the road not only to share her knowledge of the game, but also because she loves working with children.