Laural Erick named Rookie of the Year in first collegiate season

Fredonia’s own shines in NCAA

Fredonia High School graduate Laural Erick (28) celebrates during a collegiate game with the Jefferson Rams during her freshman season earlier this year. Erick was named CACC Rookie of the Year in 2019 and received Second Team All-Conference recognition, as well. Photo courtesy of jeffersonrams.com

During the varsity fall sports postseason a year ago, the Fredonia Lady ‘Billies girls soccer team was busy making a deep playoff run to the Section VI title game. Fredonia’s phenomenal goal scorer, who notched back-to-back hat tricks to carry the Lady ‘Billies to the title game was Laural Erick.

From the minute Fredonia took the field against whoever its opponent was in the 2018 season, Erick’s athletic ability stood out. Her speed was unrivaled across Section VI — so much so that she even became a secret weapon for the Fredonia softball team later that year as a pinch runner. But there was never a question, Erick’s sport was soccer, and she got the attention she deserved for it. Erick signed to play collegiate women’s soccer at Jefferson University in Philadelphia, PA.

Erick has had immediate success as a freshman for the Jefferson Rams, earning her the title of CACC Rookie of the Year. She was also named Second Team All-Conference. After starting off 0-3, Jefferson rattled off 11 straight victories from Sept. 21 through Oct. 30, which set a program record. The Rams went 9-0 over the month of October, and Erick was a big reason why, with a goal in four straight games to close out the month.

Jefferson captured its fourth CACC Championship this season and made its third ever appearance in the NCAA tournament. Now that the postseason concluded, Erick finished with 12 goals and a team-high eight assists in her first season of collegiate soccer. Her 32 total points in 20 games were just one point shy of senior leading goal scorer MaryKate Ulmer for the team lead. Erick has twice as many goals and points as any other player on the team besides Ulmer — who was named Second Team All-Region.

That kind of discrepancy is nothing new to Erick — she stood out just as much at the high school level a year ago.

Laural Erick makes a play on the ball during a high school girls soccer game in her tenure at Fredonia. OBSERVER File Photo.

Last season at Fredonia, Erick was the leading scorer among OBSERVER’s coverage area, more than doubling any other scorer in both goals (27) and total points (66) in the 2018 season. No other player had more than 12 goals or 32 points in the 2018 season among OBSERVER teams, including Cassadaga Valley, Chautauqua Lake, Dunkirk, Fredonia, North Collins, Pine Valley, Silver Creek/Forestville and Westfield/Brocton.

At Jefferson, Erick has 47 shots on the season, 34 of which were on goal. She also tied for the team lead with 20 games played. Most of Erick’s points came during conference games, which proved what any Fredonia soccer fan already knew about her to be true: Erick steps her game up when she needs to the most. She also had two game-winning goals this season at Jefferson.

As her first college soccer season is now in the books, Erick proved to be every bit deserving of the opportunity to play at the next level. To prove that from an area like she came from, which is often overlooked by the next level in terms of recruiting, only bodes well for the best athletes in the Southern Tier in the future. Erick figures to only get better from here the longer she has to develop, but it’s encouraging to see such immediate success from one of the Southern Tier’s greats.

Who might be next?

The leading scorer in the OBSERVER coverage area this season was Westfield/Brocton’s Katie Bodenmiller. The Westfield senior ranked in the top 30 in Section VI in scoring with 15 goals and 12 assists for a total of 42 points.

Westfield/Brocton’s Katie Bodenmiller (1) fights off a Frewsburg defender during a game earlier this season in Frewsburg. OBSERVER File Photo.

But it wasn’t just scoring that Erick and Bodenmiller had in common, as the two players also share another unique distinction. Erick, in her junior year, spent a year away from the Fredonia program to develop her game at the WNY Flash Academy. Bodenmiller followed a similar path, also spending a year away from her school’s varsity program to develop with the WNY Flash. Like Erick, when Bodenmiller returned for her senior season, she led her team to a Sectional title game appearance. Erick’s Fredonia team lost to Allegany-Limestone in the Sectional final, while Bodenmiller’s Westfield/Brocton team finished as a co-champion, but lost to Frewsburg in penalty kicks for the right to move on to play in the Far West Regional game.

Bodenmiller is a far different player than Erick in terms of style. While Erick had blistering speed that left opponents in the dust, Bodenmiller relies on finesse and touch to baffle her opponents. It’s the little things that Bodenmiller does that set her apart from other players on the field. From flicking a ball in mid-air over a defender, to perfectly placed free kicks or passed, to her ball control weaving through defenders, Bodenmiller appears to be a step above her competition at times in every contest.

While Bodenmiller has yet to announce her decision, she figures to play soccer collegiately. One standout player from this year to already announce her college commitment is Silver Creek/Forestville’s Chloe Barrett, who will be playing at Genesee Community College next fall. There are also plenty of young rising stars expected to return to Section VI competition next season, including Westfield/Brocton’s second leading scorer Sheala Barresi, who scored 13 goals in her first varsity season this year, as well as Calla Zarpentine of Chautauqua Lake, who led the Lady Thunderbirds with 20 points as a junior. Westfield/Brocton goalkeeper Angel Busch is also expected to return next year after receiving All-WNY Honorable Mention as a junior this season.

Moving forward, it remains to be seen if we ever see another Laural Erick from this area. However, with the success she’s had already in her young collegiate career, the opportunity is clearly there for players in this area to garner attention at the next level. Now, we wait to see who this area’s next great may be.

Twitter: @bradencarmen


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