MEDINA — Medina’s Nate Libertowski was one of the top soccer players in Medina County last season. Now The Gazette MVP will be joining one of the top Division III college programs.
Libertowski officially made his commitment to Ohio Northern University, the reigning national runner-up.
“It means a lot to be going to a program like Ohio Northern,” he said. “This is a very good program, and we have a very strong incoming recruiting class, so hopefully we can make it one step further and bring home a national championship.”
From the minute college letters started rolling in, the senior knew two things: He wanted to major in mechanical engineering and play soccer.
The Ada campus was the first school he visited.
“I fell in love with the campus,” said the 18-year-old, who added that friend Angela Tesny, a Medina basketball standout, deciding to attend the school was another factor. “I visited many other schools after that, but I didn’t like them nearly as much, and I did not feel like I did when I was on the Ohio Northern campus.”
It helped that Libertowski’s Akron Metro Futbol Club coach, former Highland mentor Denzil Antonio, used to coach with Polar Bears coach Brent Ridenour, making the school even more of a slam-dunk choice.
The versatile Libertowski led the Bees to the Brunswick D-I District championship by scoring 16 goals and dishing out nine assists from forward and midfield. The 5-foot-10, 140-pounder, whose season highlight came when he connected on the game-winning penalty kick to beat Copley in the district semifinals, earned All-Ohio, All-Greater Akron District and All-Northeast Ohio Conference accolades.
“(Antonio) thought that ONU would be a perfect fit for me,” he said. “When I talked to the ONU coach about soccer, I really liked the style of soccer that they played and I liked how they went about practice and game preparations.”
With local products Chris Matejka (Cloverleaf) and Craig Sumner (Brunswick resident/Padua) on the roster, the Polar Bears put together the best season in program history. ONU posted a school-record 25 wins, won the Ohio Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament titles and made its fifth straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
The Polar Bears, who fell to top-ranked Messiah (Pa.) in the national championship, broke school records for goals (86), points (251) and shutouts (15).
If that resume wasn’t enough, ONU’s 4-3-3 alignment was appealing to Libertowski, who has seen time at every position but goalie.
“I’m comfortable playing in a lot of positions,” he said. “My junior year in high school I played defensive center mid and then my senior year I played center forward.
“The team there is very good and competitive and I will need to put in a lot of extra work this summer to prepare myself for it. I know it is going to be very difficult, but I’m ready for the challenges that will come with it.”
Contact Dan Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.