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Published: September 24, 2009 10:42 pm  

WOMEN'S SOCCER: Raepple making sudden impact at NU

Niagara Gazette

Jamie Raepple’s soccer skills were too varied to chase scoring records in high school. With her role more defined in college, she now has that opportunity.

In her three varsity seasons at Grand Island, Raepple played forward, midfield, and occasionally, sweeper, all in helping the Vikings go 47-9-6 over that span.

“Jamie was the all-around, universal player for us,” GI coach Dave Bowman said. “She found herself all over the field. There were games where if she wasn’t in the back, we would’ve been in trouble. She wasn’t strictly a scoring forward, so she didn’t get the minutes at that position where she could put the ball in the back of the net every game.”

Niagara University coach Peter Veltri saw Raepple’s quickness and scoring instincts, and projected her as a potent striker.

“When we recruited Jamie, we told her she had an opportunity to come in and make an immediate impact for us up top,” Veltri said.

Veltri proved prophetic when Raepple netted the game-winning goal in her very first game as a Purple Eagle last month, and had four goals by the time her third collegiate game was over.

Raepple has stepped right into the spikes vacated by recent offensive stars Stephanie Gartley and Brittany Bisnott, and before them, Lewiston’s Rosie Luzak.

“She compares to them in the sense that she brings that one dimension most people don’t have,” Veltri said. “She’s a dangerous player all of the time. You can’t lose track of her, because at the drop of a dime she’ll put the ball in the back of the net.”

“Jamie is the type of player that no matter where she would’ve gone she would’ve made an impact,” Bowman said. “What’s amazing is how fast it happened. Now that she has her responsibilities challenged and focused in one direction, she’s taken off.”

Raepple said location and educational opportunities were major factors in her decision to attend Niagara, but so was the opening created by Gartley’s graduation.

“It definitely contributed to my choice. I wanted to come in and start and get a chance to contribute right away,” she said.

After he initial outburst, defenses have keyed on Raepple, and she hasn’t scored in the last six games. But with Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play set to begin, she hopes to regain her scoring touch.

“Hopefully, I’ll get back to that,” she said.

The Purple Eagles host Loyola at 7 p.m. tonight, and welcome Rider to Niagara Field for a noon match Sunday. They then go on the road for six straight games, before closing the regular season with a two-game homestand.

After that, it’s off to Disney World for the MAAC championship tournament. Unlike most years, when just four teams qualify for a playoff at a campus site, all 10 teams will have a shot at the MAAC title this year.

“I’m looking forward to Disney,” said Raepple. “We want the highest seed we can possibly get. Now that we’re starting conference play, these games mean a lot more.”