Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Nichole Gibson saving soccer

Almost a year ago now, Nichole Gibson was helping her high school soccer team win a state title. This year, she is thriving as a freshman goalkeeper trying to capture a SUNYAC championship alongside her teammates on the Plattsburgh State women’s soccer team.

Gibson has quickly made her presence felt at PSUC, and the Arkport native probably wouldn’t have gotten the chance if her high school team hadn’t played in state playoffs last fall.

As Gibson was playing in a regional playoff match on a cold November day, PSUC assistant coaches Frantzy Noze and Gene Bushey just happened to be watching the game while on a recruiting trip. Once they saw Gibson in action, they knew she needed to be a Cardinal.

“It’s crazy to say, but just by watching the game, you could see she was the best player on the pitch,” Noze said. “We knew it was crucial for us to get a good goalkeeper, and Nichole fit the exact goalkeeper we wanted.”

Gibson has played soccer since she was in kindergarten, and playing soccer at the collegiate level has always been a goal for her. The freshman loves being with the Cards and acknowledged how important it was that Noze and Bushey saw her play during regionals.

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“If my team didn’t make it that far in playoffs, they would have never seen me play, and I wouldn’t be here,” Gibson said.

When her first season at PSUC began this summer, Gibson wanted to make a strong impression on her teammates and coaches but said it was somewhat of a struggle initially.

“Transitioning to the collegiate level was difficult,” Gibson said. “At first, part of me kept telling myself I wasn’t good enough, but then I realized I just had to step up and adjust. Once you make those final adjustments, you see yourself and feel yourself getting better each day.”

It’s easy to see Gibson has since become comfortable playing in college.

The Card’s goalkeeper has played every minute of every game this season, securing five shutouts along the way. She has also won SUNYAC defensive player of the week twice, which reassured her that she belongs on PSUC.

“Winning that award was when I realized this is where I’m meant to be, and it’s clear I’m supposed to be on this team working with these girls,” Gibson said.

Gibson’s head coach, Tania Armellino, noted that winning the award as a freshman was a fantastic accomplishment and praised her goalkeeper’s work ethic.

“Nichole is such an incredible person, and in the net, she is a great presence and a great keeper,” Armellino said. “She’s intense, she works so hard in the box, she demands the ball, she’s great vocally, and she’s just a true athlete.”

In her short time at PSUC, Gibson has appreciated everything her coaches have done for her and said she couldn’t have accomplished anything this season without all her teammates, who recognize the skillset she brings to the Cards.

Gibson’s friend and goalkeeping counterpart Taylor Adams applauds how the freshman has transitioned to the college game so quickly and voiced the strong bond they have as goalkeepers.

“During the first training session, we just immediately clicked, and we have been growing on each other,” Adams said. “The saves she makes during practice and games are amazing.”

As the season carries on, Gibson is excited to continue taking the pitch with her teammates and play such an intricate role on PSUC as the Card’s goalkeeper. She didn’t expect to be in this position so early but said she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It’s one of the best feelings to know that I came in as a freshman and have been able to step up to the challenge and contribute everything I can to this team,” Gibson said. “I love being in between the posts here at Plattsburgh, and I cant wait to continue throughout my next three years.”

Email Joey LaFranca at joseph.lafranca@cardinalpointsonline.com

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