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Medaille's McFayden turns pro

He had heard all the reasons why his dream of playing professional soccer would not come true.

There was the fact that he was small and, almost more importantly, the fact that he would be playing collegiate soccer at the Division III level -- way below the radar screen of professional talent recruiters.

But Kendell McFayden didn't listen much to negativity.

And so on May 10 after he finishes his coursework at Medaille, the Williamsville North alumnus will move to Texas to play for the Austin Aztex of the United Soccer League First Division.

The opportunity came in part from McFayden's play last summer with the Premier Development League -- the top U23 league associated with the USL allowing players to experience high level competition while maintaining their collegiate eligibility.

McFayden played for the PDL team with the Austin club, and impressed the coaching staff of the organization enough to earn a pro deal.

"Through my performance last year, they invited me back to sign a professional contract for this upcoming season," McFayden said. "They got to see me develop as a younger athlete and asked me to come back to the pro team. I think I grew a lot [over the summer]. The coach I had down there, he really saw something in me that I probably didn't see in myself and everything he told me I tried to listen to and exploit the most -- just do that to the best of my ability.

"All my life I've said that I'm going to play professional soccer and people would say there was no way that would happen. You're too small. You're going to a Division III college. No one's going to get to see you at all. But through the work of my coach [Dan Krzyzanowicz] and my performance, I've allowed myself to get to the next level."

McFayden spent four years growing into his role as a back and a leader for the Medaille program -- one that has established itself as a player on the national D-III stage.

He ranks in four career categories for the Mavericks, including fourth in career points (105) and assists (25) and third in career goals (40) and shots (201).

"When he came here as a freshman he was pretty skinny, pretty small . . . and we've just seen the transformation of him go from a boy to a man," Krzyzanowicz said. "He came in at 17 years old, was the second-youngest player on the team. And now you see him, he's grown, he's much stronger. He's bigger. He's physical. He's much more aggressive and what I've seen the most is just his maturity. He's grown so much as a man and a person and the biggest thing on the field is his confidence."

McFayden's success at Medaille is easy to see and quantify, but the context of his pro deal with a USL Division I team (in essence, one step below Major League Soccer) is a different story.

Not many Division III players get the opportunity to sign a professional contract. In fact, Krzyzanowicz said it's rare for any American born collegiate soccer player to sign immediately with a pro team.

"What I've seen so far is that Kendell is the only Division III player in the country to have signed at the USL or MLS level . . . It's a tremendous feat, even for a Division I player," Krzyzanowicz said.

SOFTBALL: Buffalo State's Jenna Frieling (Williamsville North) and Kyrstin Lekki (Niagara-Wheatfield) earned Pitcher and Player of the Week, respectively, from the State University of New York Athletic Conference. The Bengals, who started the season 6-4 on their spring trip to Florida and are the defending SUNYAC champions, were picked to finish third in the preseason conference coaches' poll.

Frieling went 2-2 with a save last week, throwing 25 2/3 innings with a 1.36 ERA with 22 strikeouts and just six walks.

Lekki was 12 of 30 (.400) with six extra-base hits, including four doubles, a triple and a home run.

TRACK AND FIELD: The University at Buffalo set five school records at the Raleigh Relays at North Carolina State.

Highlights for the Bulls in field events included sophomore Casey Garbarty winning the men's javelin with a school-record throw of 224-6 while sophomore Becky O'Brien won the women's discus setting a school record with a throw of 166-3.

The men's sprint medley relay team broke the UB record with a third-place finish in 3:26.57 with a team of Ezekiel Porter, Brian Smith (Nichols), Isaiah Mask and Shaun Brummert. Porter and Smith were also part of the record-setting 4x200-meter relay in 1:25.51 joining Dan Schichtel (Eden) and Dan Harris in a fifth-place finish.

Meanwhile freshman Jamiee McClary broke a 10-year old women's record in the 200 meters, finishing seventh overall in 24.18.

WOMEN'S LACROSSE: Canisius junior Carly Quinn and freshman Gina Molfetta earned Offensive and defensive Player of the Week honors from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference after helping the Golden Griffins to a 20-5 win over Detroit.

Quinn set career highs with seven points (three goals and four assists).

Molfetta earned her first career win with 10 saves.

e-mail: amoritz@buffnews.com

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