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Knoch soccer standout Lassinger commits to Lafayette

| Tuesday, June 25, 2013, 9:15 p.m.
Knoch incoming senior Gabi Lassinger has verbally committed to Lafayette College.

From Las Vegas to Florida to Rhode Island, Gabi Lassinger has played soccer all over the country with her Century United team.

But arguably her most influential road trip was to Easton, Pa., for an unofficial visit to Lafayette College.

Lassinger, an incoming senior at Knoch, found the school pleasing on two fronts: soccer and education. That made her decision to commit there that much easier.

“I wanted to go to a top academic school and play Division I soccer,” said Lassinger, who has 40 career goals. “Lafayette has the perfect combination. It's the perfect place for me.”

Lassinger, an offensive-minded defensive star, also had scholarship offers from Kent State, Canisius and Rider. West Virginia, Miami (Ohio), Bowling Green and Duquesne also showed strong interest.

“I was born in England, so I have been playing this game since I could walk,” Knoch coach Rich Kenzie said. “There aren't many players with her caliber.

“She has very good field vision and instincts. She has a great engine. She goes from the start of the whistle to the end whistle. The strongest part of her game is her ability to see a play before or as it's happening.”

She is a speed-driven central defender for Century United, out of the South Hills, and plays mainly central-midfield for Knoch.

That role could change in the fall, however, because Kenzie plans to move her to a more offensive role.

“Our goal is to have her more center-midfield,” Kenzie said. “She can really hit the ball. And she is very coachable. You come across kids who are really good and think they know it all. She is extremely humble. She wants to learn and accepts her role. I'm sure I could put her in goal and she would not complain.”

Knoch has played a 4-4-2 set in the past, with a midfielder playing back. Lassinger doesn't mind making the sacrifice and moving to less appealing positions. Lafayette recruited her as a defender.

“Whatever my team needs,” Lassinger said. “I play with a lot of really good forwards on my Century team. I have thought to myself that it will be cool to play a different position. I am always in the back kind of watching them play.”

Lassinger also excels in the classroom. She was No. 1 in her class last year and finished in the top five as a junior.

Her already sharp time-management skills should have her ready for the college level.

Lassinger is the first girl from Knoch to commit to a Division I school for soccer. All-time leading goal-scorer Amanda Sharbaugh played at Gannon after scoring 111 goals in high school. Sharbaugh will be an assistant coach at Knoch this season.

“I remember being in fifth grade and going to high school games and watching (Sharbaugh) play,” Lassinger said. “I was there when she scored her 100th goal. She was a great role model.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at bbeckner@tribweb.com.

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