By Tom Williams
Over the past 12 months, soccer has taken Howland sophomore Seyla Perez to tournaments in Atlanta, Florida and Las Vegas.
Selecting a top university about 90 minutes from home should give her family a little break in traveling. Perez has given a verbal commitment to the University of Pittsburgh.
“I couldn’t go far [from home],” Perez said, “so an hour-and-a-half away is perfect. Plus, the ACC [Atlantic Coast Conference] is a high level of soccer and Pitt is a very good school for academics.”
Perez, who will graduate in 2014, said it’s typical for soccer players going to Division I programs to commit before their junior season ends.
“It is a relief,” said Perez, who also was recruited by Ohio State, Penn State, Akron and Dayton.
In addition to playing for the Tigers’ varsity squad, Perez is a member of the Cleveland United travel program.
“She was our MVP,” said former Howland girls soccer coach Pat Hovance, adding that Perez was a first team All-Ohio selection and the Division I district player of the year. “She has an engine that just doesn’t stop.”
Hovance said the Tigers utilized Perez all over the field. If Howland trailed, Perez moved up front to attack. But if a lead needed to be preserved, Perez would fall back to help defend.
“I like center middle for attacking,” Perez said. “But I don’t mind [moving around].”
Hovance said Perez mostly was in an attack position at midfield or forward.
“Sometimes we moved her back,” Hovance said. “She can play them all. She brings more than [scoring] to the soccer field.”
Perez loves to run. Growing up, she was a dancer and also played softball and ran track (the 100, 200 and 400 races).
She had to give those up to focus on her travel soccer commitments, but hopes she’ll return to the track team perhaps next spring.
“Last year, I started track, but I really didn’t have time,” Perez said. “I had to make a choice.
“My senior year, definitely,” Perez said. “I think my coach might be more lenient [then].”
Perez says working for the FBI is one of her goals.
“I always like a good mystery,” said Perez, who is considering accounting and psychology as subjects to major in at Pitt.
Perez said her Howland teammate Taylor Williams, who will be playing women’s basketball for Princeton University, has been an inspiration.
“We all accepted that basketball was her [main] sport,” Perez said of the four-year varsity starter at Howland. “It’s amazing knowing someone who is going to Princeton.”
Although school’s out, the travel soccer season is still being contested. Later this month, Perez’s team will be competing at a regional tournament in Michigan. If successful, the nationals will be contested in South Carolina.