Pacelli soccer player TJ Fick’s first goal in Wednesday’s Class A second round matchup against Aquinas was a special one for the senior. Not only did it play a role in the Vikings advancing to the quarterfinals, it gave Fick a major career achievement.
Fick’s shot around the 20-minute mark of Pacelli’s showdown with Aquinas was his 100th career goal at the high school level. Fick didn’t let that number last long, as he added another goal later in the match to help the Vikings take a 4-2 victory.
“I was pumped up,” Fick said. “It made me very excited. We’ve actually practiced that play about 100 times the day before. It worked out really well.”
Fick said Pacelli coach Nick Fusco purposefully removed him from the Vikings’ first round win over Woodville-Tompkins one goal shy of the milestone to motivate Fick before the more competitive game with Aquinas. Fusco has coached Fick for four seasons at Pacelli, and it didn’t take long for the coach to recognize the true talent Fick possesses.
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Fusco said Fick was one of the most talented players he’s ever coached. In Fusco’s opinion, Fick’s intensity on the field is a huge factor in why he’s been so productive as a Viking. He also credits Fick’s ability to move on when one play doesn’t go his way.
“He’s a great example for other kids in terms of how he plays, because if he misses a shot, he’s just thinking about the next shot,” Fusco said. “If he misses an easy goal, he’s thinking about the next goal he’s going to score. He’s never shy getting the ball. He’s never short of confidence. If you’re in the last minute of a game with a free kick, he’s the guy you want to give it to.”
Fusco credited Fick for his ability to give and take in terms of the offense. Fick said he’s learned over the years to recognize true scoring opportunities, whether it involves himself making the play or a Vikings teammate going for the goal.
That’s been apparent from Fick’s play, as he has led the team in goals as well as assists for the past three seasons.
“A lot of our play goes through him. A lot of the spacing on the field is to open up space for him,” Fusco said. “When we need him to score, he’s there. I haven’t really seen anybody necessarily shut him down for a whole game yet. Anytime someone actually tries to put the pressure on him, he’s able to beat it or dish the ball out for a lot of assists.”
Fick, who has signed to play soccer at Truett McConnell University, spoke highly of the time he’s spent at Pacelli. Since joining the varsity squad as a freshman, he’s been surrounded by standout players and a hard-working coaching staff. The combination has made his time as a Viking enjoyable and has also helped him grow his game.
Of course, Fick and his teammates are in no mood to let the run end now.
Pacelli advances to play Paideia, a team with an 18-2-2 record that Fusco said may be the toughest squad the Vikings have faced since he became coach.
Fick said it’s imperative that he and his teammates continuing working hard if they want to make his senior year one few around the program will ever forget.
“I would love to win a championship for my senior year. We’ve been cut short for the past three years,” Fick said. “It will take a lot of hard work and focus from everybody, not just from myself but the whole team.”
If the Vikings do indeed make a deep run this year, you can bet Fick delivered his fair share of plays to make it happen.