Gilford’s Paige Laliberte, seen here during the regular season, helped lead the Eagles to a quarterfinal appearance this fall. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
November 12, 2012GILFORD – Paige Laliberte is taking her talents 100 miles south next fall.
After a four-year recruiting process, the Gilford High School senior goalkeeper has committed to play her collegiate soccer at Division II Bentley University in Waltham, Mass. The Falcons play in the Northeast Ten Conference against the likes of Granite State schools Southern New Hampshire, Franklin Pierce and Saint Anselm College.
"I knew I wanted to be somewhere close enough to home so I can come back but far enough where I could have my own experiences," admitted Laliberte of her decision.
Having played her club soccer for Seacoast United during her high school career, Laliberte ramped up her collegiate interest this past year. She settled on SNHU, Roger Williams, Virginia Wesleyan and Bryant University as her finalists along with Bentley.
"We've been narrowing it down the last couple of years," said Laliberte, who decided to commit in mid-October. "I looked at some of the bigger Division I schools but decided that the big school atmosphere wasn't for me. Once I went to Bentley, it instantly clicked for me."
Laliberte plans to study business at Bentley, which is consistently ranked as one of the best undergraduate business programs in the country.
"The campus is really contained enough but still big enough for me," she explained. "And the student body is really supportive of athletics. The facilities at the school are beautiful."
Laliberte was also impressed with Bentley head coach Lauren Lukis, who is in her 10th year as the Falcon coach. Lukis played her collegiate soccer at Clark University in Worcester, Mass.
"Injuries have been pretty high for them all year but with what they've had, it's been a really good year for them," said Laliberte of the Bentley program.
It's been a long process for the all state goalkeeper to arrive at Bentley, beginning with initial feelers early in her high school career. Sophomore year saw her attend some big showcase tournaments with her Seacoast club, though junior year is always the biggest season as far as recruiting goes. Seacoast played at the Disney Showcase in Florida and also competed at Nationals.
"That's where I met the Bentley coach," she said. "Those were the two big showcases for us."
Laliberte stars at Seacoast on a team loaded with talent. That includes Somersworth High School senior Rachel Hill, who will play at Division I Connecticut next fall.
"Seacoast has been a great experience for me," Laliberte said. "I was fortunate enough to play for a great coach in Dave Burgess for two years now his brother Ian Burgess is coaching us this year. We practice every Tuesday and Thursday and travel all around the country for tournaments. Seacoast does a great job marketing their players."
While Laliberte has excelled on the field, as well as a guard on the basketball team and catcher on the softball team at GHS, her desire to study business made Bentley a truly desirable location.
"Definitely that balance between school and athletics has always been important," she said. "I've always been raised that school was always as important as athletics."
Laliberte will now take her official visit at Bentley on Nov. 30, when the top five recruits for each fall sport will make the trek to Waltham.
"It's definitely a relief," said Laliberte of the decision. "A lot of my friends are just about to get into the (application) process so that takes some of the stress off. Hopefully just having a normal high school year now would be great. Playing Seacoast is great but now that I've committed, being able to settle down and focus on friends and families will be nice. The focus has changed from being recruited to now getting ready to play in college. I'm going to embrace it."