Allow me to introduce you to Molly Petrucci.
For some, there’s no need for introduction. Others may have heard of her in passing while there are probably those who have never heard of the City Honors senior.
Until recently, she hasn’t received nearly as much publicity as other talented soccer players in the area. That may be OK to the quiet, humble and honest player from South Buffalo, who has been weaving through defenders and scoring on the pitch since age 3 with a modest goal of continuing to improve her skill set. But some accomplishments, some numbers are just too hard to ignore.
Meet Molly Petrucci, the all-time leading scorer in the history of scholastic girls’ soccer in New York State.
She recently broke the previous mark of 208 goals with a four-goal effort in a Sept. 11 win over Olmsted.
The number keeps growing as Mighty Molly found the back of the net for the 215th time in her career Monday during a tough 3-2 loss at Mount St. Mary.
That’s 14 goals in seven games this season for the Centaurs (4-2-1). She’s scored four goals and added an assist in four nonleague games as City Honors is playing six nonleague games and just in the league as a way of playing better competition and preparing for the Section VI Class B Tournament later this fall.
Setting a goal record isn’t something Petrucci set out to do when she first suited up for City Honors as a seventh-grader – a season in which she scored 20 goals against kids older and bigger than her.
Sure, she showed she had scoring touch while playing travel league. But setting a mark is a goal her father, Lou, believed was attainable, not Molly until she realized she was seven goals shy of the state record heading into 2015.
“I never thought I’d actually score this many goals,” Molly said. “I feel like I really did something. It’s a good feeling. … I hope it never gets broken because my name is written in a record book, but then also for someone else to break the record, good for them. They did a good job too.”
Let the record show that the 5-foot-3 17-year-old’s competitive streak showed shortly after that response.
“I want to shatter the record, get it super high so that nobody can break it,” said Petrucci, adding the ideal scenario would be putting up a big number and helping the Centaurs reach the Sectional final.
What else would you expect to hear from a competitor, and that’s the point.
Petrucci may not receive as much attention as others because she plays in the Buffalo Public Schools league, which is not regarded as being as strong as the competition in the suburban leagues. The fact remains a good player is still a good player and she’s compiled her statistics in the heat of competition.
There may be some who look at her goal total and wonder just how many she’d score if she played at a suburban or private school.
More often than not, Petrucci has raised her game to the next level when City Honors has had opportunities to play quality nonleague opponents.
“It’s not her fault she’s playing where she’s playing. That shouldn’t be held against her” when comparing her to other top players in Western New York,” City Honors coach Andrew McDermott said.
While Petrucci connected only once and misfired late on three great chances against the Mount on Monday, she still found the open spots even though she’s a marked player.
She has a four-goal game against the Thunder, a Monsignor Martin Association member, on her résumé. She has a four-goal sectional playoff game on her résumé, too.
While most opponents know she’s one of the players they must stop to beat City Honors, she still finds a way to generate chances. It helps that she has talent around her, including state assist record setter Jenna Szopinski.
“If you look at Molly, she’s not an imposing figure,” McDermott said. “But when it comes down to it, in the last minutes of a game she’s vital. … She finds a way to break through the defense.”
“She is definitely creative for them,” said Mount coach Marissa Dauria after Monday’s game. “She’s a strong player. She’s got a good team around her. … I think she’s up there [ability wise] with the top players in our league.”
That’s not hyperbole.
She did grow up playing with and against some of the top area talents, including Clarence’s Shannon Carr, North Tonawanda’s Allie Smyth and Hamburg’s Kara Daly.
While Petrucci doesn’t make a big deal about that nor did she willingly say which colleges have expressed interest in her, the fact is she has plenty of suitors, although location and quality of education are more prerequisites than division level. According to her father, Petrucci has received interest from Fordham, Canisius, College of Charlestown, Colgate, San Diego State, Ithaca and Allegheny (Pa.).
Perhaps that’s the most sincere form of flattery. Coaches wouldn’t still be sniffing around if they didn’t believe there’s something more about Petrucci than numbers.
“She really doesn’t want any of the limelight or spotlight,” McDermott said. “She sees the record as a team goal.
“It’s a huge honor for City Honors to be associated with her.”