AURORA | Nicole Lyubenko’s soccer career couldn’t get much better than it has in the past few months.
The Grandview star midfielder announced her verbal commitment to the University of Alabama via social media on Thursday night, just a few months after she helped lead the Wolves to the Class 5A state championship and just a few days before the start of her junior year.
Lyubenko, a member of the 2015 Aurora Sentinel All-City Girls Soccer Team, scored a team-high 12 goals and dished out six assists as a sophomore. The All-Centennial League first teamer and Colorado High School Soccer Coaches Association All-State Game selection became the fifth member of coach Tari Wood’s loaded Grandview team to commit to a Division I program so far.
Seniors-to-be Mandi Duggan (University of Kansas), Bailey Cook (San Diego State) and Maddy Germann (Murray State) had committed previously, plus Lyunbenko’s fellow junior-to-be Taylor Parker (University of Denver) from a Grandview team that finished 18-1. MaxPreps tabbed the Wolves the mythical No. 1 team in the nation based on strength of schedule.
Lyubenko is eager to join an Alabama program that finished 10-7-3 last season and lost in the first round of the SEC tournament. She found everything she was looking for in Tuscaloosa, which she said feels like her “home away from home,” because of its abundant Southern hospitality.
“There were four things I was looking for in a university: strong academics, an outstanding coaching staff, a competitive atmosphere and a warm climate,” Lyubenko told the Sentinel. “Alabama surpassed all these expectations and I am so excited to play there. ROLL TIDE!”
Lyubenko can’t wait to play in the ultra-competitive SEC, while she said the Tide’s “facilities are beyond amazing and pictures do not do them justice.”
While Duggan and Cook made their college pledges a long time ago, Parker announced her pick of Denver during the season and Germann just picked Murray State about a week ago.
Germann — who accounted for an assist and played a key role on corner kicks for the Wolves — struggled to find the right fit until she heard from Murray State, an Ohio Valley Conference school which is located in Murray, Kentucky. The Racers, who don’t currently have a Colorado player on their roster, finished 11-9 in 2014.
“My recruiting process was long. I sent many emails to many coaches, but nothing seemed to be the right fit,” Germann told the Sentinel. “I hadn’t thought of Murray State until they emailed me camp information.
“I went on a visit and I loved the campus. The coaches were so nice and their plan for the upcoming years fit what I wanted.”
Germann’s goals for her senior year are to maintain a 3.6 GPA, avoid the pitfalls of “senioritis,” prepare herself mentally and physically for college and help Grandview win a second consecutive 5A state championship.
The Wolves should have a good shot at repeat, as they expect to return all the players that started in their 2-0 win over Broomfield in the state final save goalkeeper Maddie Lesjak, an All-State selection who is now at the University of Northern Iowa.
Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel
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