July 1, 2016

Mostly cloudy

College signing: Nagucki will play soccer at CSU

MEDINA — Alec Nagucki could’ve gone to any soccer program around.

The St. Ignatius senior and United States Development Academy player, however, wanted to stay close to home and continue to excel in the same city where he got his start.

Nagucki, a Medina resident, signed a National Letter of Intent Wednesday to play for Division I Cleveland State University.

“The fact that it was close to home was very important to me,” he said. “I love the Cleveland-area and I’ve lived here all of my life. Everything I know is here, my family, friends … that was really important to me.”

When narrowing down the possibilities, Nagucki selected the Vikings over Notre Dame, Northwestern, Bowling Green and Loyola Chicago.

Cleveland State was a draw in a variety of ways. Nagucki already knows some of the players on Cleveland State’s roster and in the incoming recruiting class. Plus, Nagucki played for Vikings assistant coach Kirk Harwat, a former St. Ignatius assistant.

“He was my club coach for a while and when he coached at Ignatius we became close,” Nagucki said. “Sometimes it can be awkward when you don’t know a coach, but it was super easy to connect with him.”

Nagucki was a three-year letterwinner for the Wildcats, before forgoing his senior season to play for the Internationals Development Academy, where he led the team in assists and was one of the squad’s top scorers.

The 6-foot, 175-pound center midfielder earned a spot on the St. Ignatius roster as a freshman on a team that not only won the D-I state title, but were national champs. He was a starter the following year as the program won the championship again. In 2012, he helped the Wildcats to a 15-1-3 season with nine goals.

His play helped earn him recognition as a top recruit by Top Drawer Soccer and College Soccer News.

“Alec has been on our radar and was one of our top recruiting priorities from the minute we saw him,” Harwat said in a press release. “He is a box-to-box central midfield player that has all of the qualities both technically and tactically to be a big part of our squad this coming fall.

“He fits well into our possession-oriented philosophy and we will continue to push him to make sure he reaches his full potential.”

Nagucki, who expects to see some time as a defensive center midfielder this upcoming season for a Vikings team that is coming off an 8-12 record and 3-4 in Horizon League, also credits much of his success to working with Al Reynolds — a former Uruguay National Team and professional player.

“I’ve been with him since I was 7 and over the years he was giving me tips,” said Nagucki, who plans on majoring in engineering. “Most kids don’t get an opportunity to work with someone who has played at such a high level and he’s helped me get through a lot. That’s another reason I wanted to say close.”

Contact Dan Brown at sports@medina-gazette.com.