Isabella Muzzolini said she is ‘honoured and excited’ to become a Georgia Bulldog. (Special to The News)

Isabella Muzzolini said she is ‘honoured and excited’ to become a Georgia Bulldog. (Special to The News)

Soccer sensation signs southern scholarship

Maple Ridge’s Isabella Muzzolini will play for the Georgia Bulldogs next year

One of the top young soccer players from Maple Ridge will look to take a bite out of the NCAA.

Isabella Muzzolini, 17, has signed a scholarship offer to play for the University of Georgia Bulldogs in 2021.

“I was at a loss for words when I received it,” she said, “I felt proud and grateful to have accomplished something so significant, and my parents are very excited and extremely proud of me.”

It has been a long journey for the gifted athlete, who has been playing soccer since she was seven-years-old.

“My older brother, Cristiano, played and my dad is a football fanatic, so I grew up around the sport,” she said.

“The first team I joined consisted of all my best friends at the time, which was another reason I enjoyed playing, and my dad was my coach for several years, so it helped having him push me to become better every day.”

READ MORE: Maple Ridge girl invited to Team Canada camp

Her primary position is attacking midfielder, but she is also comfortable playing striker and winger roles.

“I have an attacking mindset, and love to get myself on-and-around the ball in dangerous areas higher up the pitch,” she said.

Muzzolini was selected to be a part of the Vancouver Whitecaps program just as she was starting high school, so she has had her eye on success in the sport since she was young.

That drive has lead her to being selected to the Girls Elite Whitecaps REX Program, as well as the Canadian Youth National Team rosters and camp rosters, and now a chance to play Division I NCAA soccer.

Along the way, Muzzolini has amassed plenty of memories she holds dear.

A favourite is when her U14 team, Coquitlam Metro Ford, took part in the Anaheim Cup Tournament in California.

“We came first – winning all our games – and I was awarded MVP of the tournament,” she said.

“We were fortunate to visit Disneyland as a team too, and had tons of fun.”

She also cherishes the memory of earning her first cap for Canada at the U15 Concacaf Championship in Florida.

“I was greatly honoured to be able to represent my country, and compete against Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Panama, and Haiti,” Muzzolini said.

“It was an experience of a lifetime.”

The ‘fantastic’ academic and athletic opportunities offered at the University of Georgia were the top reasons for Muzzolini choosing to accept a scholarship at the southern post secondary school.

Muzzolini also said there is an ‘indescribable’ feeling when she is on their campus.

“The atmosphere and energy in Athens is unbelievable,” she said.

“I was blown away by the amount of unconditional support the student-athletes get from the academic advisors who schedule tutoring sessions, and help the athlete do their very best on the pich and in the classroom.

“And the soccer team has an amazingly caring and intelligent coaching staff along with a talented group of players. I can really see myself fitting in and striving for excellence there.”

Her goals for the next few years are lofty, but anyone who knows Muzzolini would expect nothing less.

“I would love to play in a Youth Women’s World Cup, and win [Southeastern Conference] awards – like SEC Player of the Year, SEC Freshman of the Year, or be named one of the SEC Starting 11,” she said.

“After that, I would like to get a cap for the senior Women’s Canadian National Team, and hopefully play overseas somewhere in Europe at the professional level.”

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