Sure the University of Massachusetts had plenty to offer when it came to satisfying Julianna Ryan’s quest to continue playing soccer at the collegiate level, but that wasn’t the only thing that attracted her to the Amherst school.
It, in fact, went a lot deeper.
“(The campus) reminded me of my grandma’s house in Pennsylvania, which is one of my favorite places,’’ said Ryan. “It’s just gorgeous. Super pretty. And, honestly, I’m not one for warm weather (cities) either.
“I really like the athletics (aspect) as well, of course, so it made it the perfect fit for me.’’
Ryan, who verbally committed to UMass in September of 2019, made her choice official after signing her National Letter of Intent on a partial athletic, partial academic scholarship, the Advance/SILive.com has learned.
The Great Kills resident, who’s primarily played center midfielder for the Vikings during an abbreviated schedule in 2020, said UMass first discovered her while she was playing in a travel tournament with Players Development Academy (Somerset, N.J.) in North Carolina.
“They started following me and showed some interest,’’ said Ryan, who plays center back for PDA. “(UMass head coach Jason Dowiak) likes that I always hustle and referred to me as a ‘military general’ on the field.
“That made me feel really good.’’
Ryan, who did a superb job handling a large amount of the Vikings’ free kicks this season, missed the Huguenot school’s last few games this season following a freak accident during a water break.
“I wanted to get my water during (two two-minute COVID break), but I was blocked off from all the bags, so I tried to jump over the bench,’’ she said regrettably. “Not the best judgement and I wound up spraining my left ankle.’’
But the four-year varsity player, who, ironically, wants to become a Physical Therapist, said her future with the Minutewomen is bright.
“(Coach Dowiak) wants me to start at (left fullback) since the girl who plays there is a senior,’’ Ryan said. “That was great to hear, I wasn’t expecting it.
“I know I have to work hard to get that spot because somebody else can very well come in and take it if I don’t, but knowing there’s an opportunity right away is exciting.
“I’m looking forward to the experience.’’
Ryan also received Division 1 interest from Fairfield, Old Dominion, Maryland Baltimore County, Holy Cross and Marist.