A strange thing happened after Gloucester Catholic (N.J.) High School senior Jessica Kupcha committed to play volleyball at George Washington at the start of the school year: She started focusing on a different sport.
Novice or not, Kupcha has made a huge difference on the soccer field. The senior goalie, who hadn't played competitive soccer since the seventh grade, has earned seven shutouts already for 12-1 Gloucester Catholic, which is rapidly rising through the ranks of New Jersey soccer teams as it aims to defend its 2009 Non-Public B state title.
"There has been some adjustment, but it's been so much fun," Kupcha told Inquirer sports columnist Marc Narducci. "I forgot how much I liked playing soccer."
Kupcha said the George Washington coaches expressed concern about her move to soccer -- she did skip her high school senior volleyball season for a different sport, after all -- but the goalie was able to convince them she was still committed to her primary passion by sticking with her club team, Synergy. That club schedule picks up in November, when Kupcha said she'll refocus on her future sport after soccer season wraps up.
Until then, Kupcha is proving to be a huge asset for Gloucester Catholic in a way that was completely unanticipated. The senior only decided to join the team after one of her friends, soccer teammate Korrie Harkins, was so impressed by Kupcha's saves when the two were engaged in an impromptu shooting drill that Harkins begged Kupcha to consider playing.
Gloucester Catholic girls soccer coach Kate Ormsby is particularly happy Kupcha listened to Harkins' pleas.
"In my 12 years, she is one of the top kids to come through here athletically," Ormsby told the Inquirer. "You could see that she competes at a high level in volleyball. ...
"Her reflexes are unbelievable. In practice she has made some unbelievable diving saves on penalty kicks and in the games she is fearless, diving all over the place."
- George Washington