The big schools started calling on Geneva’s Amanda Lulek, much to Lulek’s surprise.
A girls soccer standout for the Vikings, Lulek chose Iowa over Northern Illinois, but was taken aback that she had either option.
“I was really surprised,” Lulek said. “It felt really good to know I actually had the talent to go that far because I didn’t think that highly of myself. I guess I thought I was more the Division III level.
“ … It definitely boosted my confidence a lot to have those schools interested in me.”
The Geneva senior finalized her plans to be a Hawkeye during a signing ceremony Wednesday afternoon at Geneva. She said she first caught Iowa’s attention the summer leading up to her junior year while playing club soccer for the Strikers.
Lulek said she loves Iowa City.
“Everyone just seemed happy walking around, and the buildings were just beautiful,” Lulek said. “Once I got on campus, I just got this smile on my face. I’m just excited to be [going there].”
The speedy Lulek scored 14 goals and had six assists as a junior for Geneva, and might be called upon do more this spring with the losses of fellow standouts Catherine Allon (graduation) and Michaela Loebel (ACL tear). Lulek said she will likely play on the outside for Iowa but isn’t sure if she will be a forward or switch to defense.
Lulek isn’t the only Big Ten-bound area player.
As previously reported, Kaneland goalkeeper Jordan Ginther is headed for Purdue, becoming the first Knights soccer player to land at a Division I program.
Defending 3A state runners-up St. Charles North, meanwhile, is sending at least five seniors to college: Natalie Winkates (Northern Iowa), Alex Gage (Loyola), Kelly Manski (Wisconsin-Milwaukee), Jorie Clawson (Southern Illinois-Edwardsville) and Kenzie Rose (Winona State). Gage will join her older sister, Sammy, with the Ramblers.
On the boys side, Batavia product Cody Witkowski, who took a year off to play with the Chicago Fire Development Academy, signed with Northern Illinois.
“I’m glad we got in early on Cody, as he had attracted a lot of attention from other schools after he had committed to us,” NIU coach Eric Luzzi said in a news release. “I envision Cody competing for time early in his career here at NIU, and he will eventually be a big part of our back four.”