Seven years ago, when Nichole Schiro had already wowed upperclassmen on her high school team by scoring goals at will, her soccer coach at Okemos (Mich.) High sat her down in his office.
Rob Antcliff wanted to know what his young star wanted to accomplish in her career.
Naturally, the modest freshman listed the basics — play well, help the team win, maybe try to play in college.
Then she blurted out something that still sticks out to Antcliff.
"Well, I like to break records," Schiro said.
Last Friday, Schiro set what is quite possibly her most impressive record yet. The junior had a hat trick in Loyola's 6-1 win over Manhattan, breaking the Greyhounds' all-time career mark for goals, which was held by Ali Andrzejewski with 33.
"What took her so long?" Antcliff jokingly questioned.
The athletic forward, who added another goal Sunday in Loyola's 1-0 overtime win over St. Peter's, immediately showed her knack for scoring when Antcliff started working with her at Okemos. In her four-year varsity career, Schiro set career records for goals (101), assists (41) and points (142), while earning all-state honors each year.
"She was like a gazelle out there, and just ran past everyone," said Vicki Schiro, Nichole's mom. "She loved sports and tried to get involved with everything."
Said Antcliff: "It's not something a lot of people talk about, but she just has a ton of bravery. She'll work harder than anyone else on the field and wants to score."
Despite receiving interest from Michigan State — just five miles away from Okemos — and other Big Ten schools, Schiro ultimately decided on Loyola, a school nearly 500 miles away. The soccer star, who has a 3.89 GPA, had other goals in mind — namely a future that includes dental school.
But for now, Schiro is the face and captain of Loyola. She has started every all but six games since she arrived on campus three years ago.
"We never would have predicted how phenomenal she really is, just as a player and a person," Loyola coach Katherine Remy Vettori said. "Her work rate is unmatched. She is the hardest worker and a tremendous athlete."
Last year's Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Co-Offensive Player of the Year and MAAC first-team member has scored 35 goals in 62 career games, including seven multi-goal games.
"You could just tell from the first practice that she was going to be great," junior midfielder and co-captain Gigi Mangione said. "Its just her athleticism blows you away."
The 5-foot-9 forward scores many of her goals in the air, taking advantage of her taller frame and jumping ability. But she also has a flair for the dramatic.
Last year against Fairfield, Schiro scored two goals in the game's first seven minutes, a span of 82 seconds between the two. On one of those, Schiro intercepted a pass from the goalkeeper on the endline and then bent a shot around the goalkeeper and into the net.
The shot is still one that Vettori shakes her head about.
"Most strikers know there are certain angles you don't want to shoot from," Vetorri said, "but Nichole makes those more than she does a simple shot."
"I want to score the ones that people aren't expecting," Schiro said. "So if they think it's an easy pass back, I'll try to get the ball and create a quick counter."
Schiro, who started playing soccer at 2 years old, didn't know about the career goals record possibility until Vettori mentioned it last month. It's certainly one she was looking forward to, but not one she was focused on. Against Manhattan, Schiro also moved into second place all-time at Loyola in career points with 79, trailing all-time leader Carolyn Kennington with 89.
"If I set records, then I know that the team is doing well," Schiro said last month. "So I do want to set the record because that means we're scoring and we're winning."
"She's a full package," Vettori said, "and it's very rare to get that."
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