Striker heads to Mohawk
Erica Cupiraggi is set to strike out on her own.
The 18-year-old graduate of Saint Michael Catholic High School in Niagara Falls has committed to play soccer and study early childhood education at Mohawk College.
“I think one of the things that pushed me towards Mohawk was I wanted to be away from home. I wanted to experience life away from home,” Cupiraggi said.
Cupiraggi also seriously considered Niagara College.
“In the recruitment process, Paul (Mohawk head coach Paul Giannini) was very open and honest with me about everything. It was really 50/50. I went out with some training with them and I liked his coaching style and the girls were super-welcoming and super-nice,” she said.
Cupiraggi has mixed emotions as she prepares for a new chapter in her life.
“I am very excited but also very nervous. From moving away from home to playing post-secondary soccer, everything comes into play but I am excited to take this next level in my life.”
Cupiraggi brings a strong offensive component to her game.
“I’m striker and I love scoring goals, just the feeling gets me so excited,” she said. “Moving forward I’m excited to experience the post-secondary level and see the competition and play with a bunch of talented girls.”
She realizes adjustments will be in order as the competition gets stronger.
“I think it’s going to be challenging going to college soccer, that’s a big step. Just playing with the girls and I’m willing to put in 100 per cent of my effort so I can meet my standard and also the standard I should be playing at,” she said.
Cupiraggi began playing soccer with Niagara United before moving to Empire United in 2019.
She credits that choice as one of the main reasons for her success.
“It’s helped a lot. It’s a bigger step. It’s where you showcase yourself to go post-secondary and go further in your soccer career.”
Empire technical director Davide Massafra has seen Cupiraggi’s hard work pay off.
“When Erica joined our Empire Niagara Showcase team a few years ago she initially needed to develop from a skills perspective,” Massafra said.“ She struggled slightly the first year, but the high level of training and competition assisted Erica in improving substantially.”
Massafra said Cupiraggi used the break in play during the COVID pandemic to her advantage.
“She became very committed to the program and once we got back to training I immediately noticed this change,” he said. “Erica was more serious as she attended every session and was very competitive with every training opportunity.”
“I’m very proud of her achievement and how far Erica has developed from the first day. Her family pushed and supported in her soccer journey and that’s a game changer.”
Cupiraggi, who also played volleyball for the Mustangs before giving up both to concentrate solely on soccer, has immersed herself in soccer this summer.
“I’ve been training with my Empire team and also training with the Mohawk team. That’s really been helping. Just keeping myself busy with soccer and preparing myself for the season.”
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