Cari Roccaro . . . will be a pro soccer player.
That line was printed in the 2008 East Islip Middle School yearbook.
Roccaro and her classmates were asked to write down what they would be in 20 years. So Roccaro filled in the blank with the only profession she had dreamed of since elementary school.
“I never thought it was actually in reach,” Rocarro said Friday. “But as I grew up, it became so much more realistic.”
On Friday it became a reality. Roccaro, a graduate of East Islip High School and Notre Dame University, was selected fifth overall by the Houston Dash in the National Women’s Soccer League draft.
“It hasn’t hit me yet,” Roccaro said. “But I wouldn’t even say I’m a professional soccer player yet just because of today. I still have to earn it. I have to go in and do well. Once I get there and start training and put on the uniform, it will feel real.”
Then her yearbook prophecy will be official.
At around the same time the yearbook came out, Roccaro was starting to make a name for herself on Long Island. A versatile talent with speed, skill and a powerful shot, Roccaro was called up to varsity as an eighth grader and went on to lead East Islip to a Long Island championship as a freshman.
Roccaro amassed 39 goals and 19 assists in her five seasons on varsity at East Islip. She was a three-time All-Long Island selection and was named Newsday’s girls soccer player of the year as a senior in 2011.
She moved on to Notre Dame, where she would ultimately be named captain, and recorded 13 goals and four assists during her four-year collegiate career. She said she finished classes last month and graduated a semester early with a bachelor’s degree in sociology.
“I’ve grown as an all-around person, student, athlete, in all the ways anyone would expect to at a university like Notre Dame,” Roccaro said. “I think I really just got the most out of it in terms of those three aspects of college life.”
Roccaro, 21, said that one of the greatest accolades she received while at Notre Dame was being named National Freshman of the Year in 2012 after missing the start of the season while playing for the 2012 FIFA U-20 Women’s National soccer team that won the World Cup in Japan.
She transitioned to the back line as a central defender in her senior season and was named to the NSCAA All-America third-team last month. She will head to Houston in March, where she’ll be reunited with her former Notre Dame coach, Randy Waldrum, who now coaches the Dash.
“I’m comfortable with that,” Roccaro said of her familiarity with Waldrum. “I have a lot of friends there that I played on the National Team with. I’ve never been to Houston or know anything about it but I’m excited to try something new.”
But for now Roccaro is on familiar ground. She is currently home in East Islip rehabbing from hip surgery. She said she was too nervous to watch the draft on Friday but was in her bedroom constantly refreshing her Twitter feed. She then began to receive endless text messages congratulating her on being drafted.
Now that her goal of becoming a professional soccer player has been reached, she will strive for others, like making the Women’s National Team and winning a World Cup.
“Especially after watching this summer and seeing so many of my friends on that team win the World Cup,” Roccaro said. “I know it’s still in reach to do a repeat . . . So hopefully I get a chance within a year or two or three to see if I can crack my way onto the team.”
Hofstra’s Galton drafted by New Jersey team
Hofstra’s Leah Galton was selected 13th overall by Sky Blue FC of New Jersey. Galton recorded 122 points at Hofstra, a program record. Her 48 career goals are second most in program history, and she is tied for the all-time lead in assists with 26. Galton was named a semifinalist for the Hermann Trophy, awarded to soccer’s top college player.