Prep Signing: West Rowan’s Lucente signs with Wingate soccer

  • Posted: Sunday, February 10, 2013 3:14 p.m.
West Rowan's Toni Lucente (right) shares a laugh with her mother Cindy. Photo by Jon C. Lakey, Salisbury Post
West Rowan's Toni Lucente (right) shares a laugh with her mother Cindy. Photo by Jon C. Lakey, Salisbury Post

MOUNT ULLA — Even though she was only a junior, Toni Lucente had a decision to make.

It was last spring and the Wingate soccer program let her know she was wanted. The Bulldogs offered.

Lucente had the mindset of “Why wait?” She promptly committed to Wingate. She made it official last week on National Signing Day when she inked her letter-of-intent.

As far as waiting, that’s what Lucente has done for three years playing for Nick Brown’s talented West Rowan soccer team. She has been an integral part of several North Piedmont Conference championships, but it seemed like she had to wait her turn to make the Falcons “her team.”

First, there were Allison Parker and Brittany Gibbons, who led West. Then, it was Allison Baucom.

“I never got any attitude from the kid.,” said Brown, obviously a big Lucente fan. “She has always done everything I’ve asked. She has always worked really, really hard and she’s a good example for the younger kids.”

During the first three years of her West Rowan career, Lucente may not have been the biggest name, but she was just as big of a star:

• As a freshman, she led the NPC with 24 goals and 65 points. Throw in 17 assists.

• As a sophomore, she led the NPC with 29 goals and a whopping 81 points. She had 23 assists that year.

• Last season, she proved what an all-around player she was. She led the conference in assists with 28, while scoring 25 times and totaling 78 points.

Not bad for a player in the so-called background.

“I’ve always been behind those girls,” Lucente said. “(Brown) really wants me to step up as a leader this year.”

Lucente didn’t have to worry about a recruiting war because she signed so early. Wingate recruited her as a forward, “but I want to go back to defense,” she smiled.

Brown, who has groomed many players for a college career, has no doubt she can do whatever she wants.

“She’ll play forward, midfielder for us, but she’s a better defender than anything,” he noted. “That’s the good thing about Toni. She can go to Wingate and play many positions.”

Wingate is one of the South Atlantic Conference’s best programs. The Bulldogs made the Division II playoffs before being ousted by North Georgia and falling to 14-3-2. The Bulldogs are also bringing in a new coach, Chip Wiggins, who has a past at the school, where he was an assistant before leaving for other opportunities.

What is Wiggins getting in Lucente?

An annual all-county, all-conference, all-region player who is expecting her best year as a senior. She helped the 2012 Falcons to the third round of the 3A playoffs, the longest run in school history.

“I think we have enough talent that we can still win the conference championship,” Lucente said.

And Brown can’t wait to coach her one last time.

“We’ve had a lot of success since Toni’s been here,” he said. “I think she’ll take the challenge and run with it. She’s excited to show everybody what she can do.”

Actually, she’s already shown what she can do. Stats don’t lie. But she has been in the shadows of some famous seniors.

Those girls are gone.

Which means only one thing at West Rowan.

Now, it’s Toni’s time.

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