Lenox Senior Arace Signs on to Play for Providence

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
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LENOX, Mass. -- Wednesday was a big day for Lenox's Alessandra Arace, and her school was not going to let her forget it.
"Sandra is the type where, despite all her numerous accomplishments throughout the years, she's always very team-oriented and will try to push off any praise or spotlight," Lenox girls soccer coach Kyle Zinchuk said. "So we really wanted to do this for her to try to force her to except some of that acknowledgement.
"Because she really does deserve it."
Surrounded by her teammates but squarely at center stage, Arace signed her National Letter of Intent to attend Providence College and play Division I women's soccer for the Friars.
It was the final commitment of a decision Arace made long ago. She made a verbal commitment to the Friars prior to her junior season.
But even though she wore the label "DI-bound" for the last two seasons, Wednesday still was a big deal for Arace.
"It means a lot," she said afterward. "It's a really special feeling because ever since I can remember, going DI and playing Division I college soccer has been a dream for me.
"[The signing] makes it real. Now it really feels like it's right around the corner."
While the event may have lacked lacked some of the suspense of the NLOI signings hyped all day on ESPN, there was no shortage of enthusiasm, respect and admiration for all that Arace has meant to the Lenox community.
Zinchuk said it was especially important to have the rest of the girls soccer team see its one senior take such a big step.
"The thing is, they've seen it from her not just this season but previous seasons, too," Zinchuk said. "They've seen it for four years now. But seeing where that hard work can get you ... 
"Are all of them going to play DI? No. But I think the message is greater than that. Whether it's soccer or another sport or life in general, good things can happen when you put your mind to it and have that determination. That's really the bigger message here."
Arace joins a program on the rise.
Providence set a program record for wins in 2015 with a 13-8-1 record that included a trip to the Big East championship game.
The 13 wins last fall marked the Friars' first double-digit win total since 1993.
On Tuesday, the college gave second-year head coach Sam Lopes a contract extension through the 2021 season.
There is a lot that is expected of the school's new defender.
"They expect us all to be in really good shape," she said. "They've pretty much said if we're not in good shape, freshman year going in is pretty much going to be a waste for us. So I'm going to have to work really hard.
"They're going to send us a summer packet [of instructions]. It's going to be intense."
Don't expect Arace to shy away from the challenge. She's been gearing up for it ever since she started thinking about what comes after high school.
"From the beginning, Providence was always one of my top three choices, but I was also looking at Boston College and Syracuse," she said. "It wasn't an easy decision, but in the end, Providence is where I wanted to be.
"From the moment I stepped on the campus, I knew I wanted to spend four years there."
Hescock signs with Badgers
Arace was not the only Berkshire County product signing a NLOI on Wednesday.
Pittsfield's Jake Hescock, who attends Connecticut's Salisbury School, signed to play football at the University of Wisconson on Wednesday morning.
Hescock, who attended Taconic before transferring to Salisbury, is rated a three-star prospect by several scouting services and is listed by Wisconsin at 6-foot-7, 240 pounds. He is projected to play tight end for the Badgers.
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