By Mike DeFabo
Times West Virginian
Gabi Mascaro is staying in Fairmont.
After considering several out-of-state colleges, the Fairmont Senior soccer standout signed her National Letter of Intent Tuesday to continue her career at Fairmont State University, an upstart program which will play its first games in 2015.
Mascaro also visited Coastal Carolina and verbally committed to Seton Hill in Pennsylvania, but she flipped her decision because of the opportunities the first-year program will provide her.
“It was a really tough decision,” Mascaro said. “In the end I felt that Fairmont has given me so much that I just needed to give back in a way.
“In 20 years when I look back on my soccer career, being a part of Fairmont State’s soccer team and being able to say that I contributed to the start of their team, that will mean so much more to me that saying I played college soccer somewhere else.”
Mascaro scored 27 goals and dished out 14 assists in her senior season. She also racked up plenty more goals and individual accolades as a four-year starter.
She was a perennial all-conference selection. The West Virginia Sports Writers Association chose her for the first-team and second-team all-state teams during her junior and senior seasons after she captained the Polar Bears to back-to-back state tournament appearances. And twice the coaches selected her for the first-team all-state squad.
Outside of high school, she participated in the West Virginia Olympic Development Program and competed with the West Virginia United Soccer Club Shox, a team that won the State Cup four times since 2009.
“She comes from arguably one of the most successful club programs in West Virginia in a long time, if not ever,” said Patrick McGinnis, who was named Fairmont State’s first-ever women’s soccer coach in early December. “That will go a long, long way, because she’s played against some of the best competition in the United States and played on a very high scale.”
McGinnis called Mascaro a “dynamic” playmaker at the center midfield position. He added that that securing Mascaro will give the Falcons “a local star.”
But more than the goals that she scored or the championships she won, he was impressed by the two-time captain’s leadership abilities.
“One of the big reasons that I wanted her was to use that leadership ability. That’s what young programs often lack,” he said. “Because of her leadership, she has the potential to really make this her team.”
McGinnis, a two-time West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year, spent the last six seasons building the Alderson-Broaddus program from scratch. He led the Battlers to an NCAA tournament appearance in 2011 and followed it up by winning the WVIAC regular-season championship in 2012, the final conference championship before the league was disbanded.
“He wants to do the exact same thing at Fairmont State,” said Mascaro. “He wants to create a good, solid foundation. He told me that he wasn't going anywhere either. So I could trust that he is going to be there all of my years.”
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