Laural Erick signs to play NCAA Div. II women’s soccer for Jefferson Rams

Fredonia’s star heads to Philly

OBSERVER Photo by Aaron Lundmark Fredonia’s Laural Erick lines up a free kick in a regular season game during her senior year.

All year long, when Laural Erick of the Fredonia Lady ‘Billies stepped on the soccer field, it was clear that her athletic ability was on another level.

Wednesday, she had one last moment in Fredonia to prove that to be true.

Erick signed her letter of intent on Wednesday at Fredonia High School to solidify her college commitment to play NCAA Division II women’s soccer at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Pa.

Erick was the focal point of the Lady ‘Billies offense all throughout her time at Fredonia. Beginning as a freshman, she led the team in goals every year she played for Fredonia. Erick had 13 goals in 2015 as a freshman, then followed up with an astounding 35 goals as a sophomore in 2016 to lead Fredonia to a 16-3 record and a Class B2 sectional title.

In her junior year in 2017, Erick took a year away from Fredonia to develop her game at Empire United Development Academy. Fredonia struggled without Erick in 2017, with a 2-13-1 record — but Fredonia still found a bit of magic in the postseason, as Fredonia always does, with an upset of 1-seed Olmsted in the sectional playoffs.

OBSERVER Photo by Braden Carmen Fredonia Lady ‘Billies soccer star Laural Erick signed her letter of intent to play NCAA Division II soccer at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Pa. on Wednesday at Fredonia High School. Pictured in front, from left: Laural’s father, Jasen Erick, Laural Erick, and her mother, Stacey Erick. Pictured in back, from left: Fredonia Athletic Director Greg Lauer, Fredonia girls soccer coach Brett Gould, Fredonia assistant coach Paul Sellari and Fredonia High School Principal Darrin Paschke.

“I learned a lot about travel and time management,” said Erick of her year at Empire United. “The way that the D.A. does travel is similar to the way college does travel. You go on a coach bus to each game, so I learned about how to manage my time on that bus. That will help me prepare for college.”

Erick is now a member of the WNY Flash development club in preparation for playing at the college level.

In her senior year, Erick returned to the Lady ‘Billies to close out her high school career — and they were surely happy to have her back. Fredonia improved to a record of 10-7-2 in 2018, while playing in arguably the strongest league in the regular season in all of Western New York. Erick led the team with 27 goals and 12 assists, but nothing was more impressive than her playoff run of success. In back-to-back sectional playoff games, Erick posted a hat-trick, first against Southwestern at Fredonia State, then against Eden at Williamsville East High School in the Section VI, Class B2 semifinals. Erick accounted for all six playoff goals by Fredonia in the 2018 postseason.

“Honestly, one of our main focuses was being a family. As much as the soccer was important, it was really important to be close and I’ll never forget the family experience we had here. Some of these girls are my very good friends and I’ll never forget them,” said Erick.

Now, Erick heads to Philadelphia to showcase her talents at the next level.

The Jefferson Rams, a member of the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference in NCAA Division II, went 7-10-1 in 2018 and reached the CACC quarterfinals. After 20 years under head coach George Dunbar, who finished with a record of 225-140-42, former assistant coach Socrates Nicolaidis takes the reins in 2019.

“I was actually one of his first recruits with him being the head coach,” said Erick. “That’s really cool that I’m one of his first recruits. It will be a really neat experience to see how he turns out as a head coach.”

Erick is set to join a team that has its top four goal scorers from a year ago all with eligibility remaining, but without a clear number one scorer, Erick will have an opportunity to state her case for playing time with a strong showing in preseason. Erick also now joins her cousin, Emma Kuciapinski, on the Jefferson Rams roster.

“I really fit into their program really well,” said Erick. “I’ve been to a few things there and worked with some of their girls, and I feel like our playing styles really connect. I like all of the girls there and I feel like we’re going to work really well together.”

Erick plans to study architecture at Jefferson. She credits her architecture class at Fredonia High School for inspiring her to do so. Jefferson also boasts a program focused on academic success. 12 members of the Jefferson Rams 2018 women’s soccer team made the CACC All-Academic Team.

“It means a lot that a school would lean towards that (focus on academics),” said Erick. “That’s the main purpose for why you’re in college, for the academics. (Jefferson) focusing on that was really big.”

Smile on her face throughout the experience, surrounded by friends and family, Erick put pen to paper Wednesday in the school library to put a ribbon on her time at Fredonia.

“I’d like to thank my mom, my dad and my coaches. It’s been a really stable environment for me. They’re really great,” said Erick.

Twitter: @bradencarmen