Story written by Dom Nicastro, correspondant from the Ipswich Chronicle
Ipswich - Lesley University in Cambridge is about 30 miles from Ipswich High School.
But it must feel like 300 miles for Nicholas Pedrick, a former Ipswich standout who plays soccer for Lesley.
It is a different world with the Lynx than it was with the Tigers. In high school, Pedrick's team advanced to the Eastern Massachusetts state championship his junior year, then made the Eastern Mass. North finals his senior year.
Lesley finished with a record of 6-13-1.
"We love soccer, and that's why we're here," said Pedrick, a sophomore midfielder/striker. "But the fact that we do love this game isn't enough, and it can get really difficult at times. Since we're a small school, we can't get the players who score 30 goals a season."
Paul Vasconcelos, Lesley's coach for men's and women's soccer, admits it's a building process for the three-year-old program.
He's certainly happy to have Pedrick on board. He calls the Ipswich product his most improved player.
"He worked super hard in the off-season, and he's just a super kid," Vasconcelos said.
As of last week, the Lynx had two more conference games and hoped to qualify for the conference tourney. Pedrick truly believes that can happen as the team gets more experience.
"The team itself is struggling a lot because we don't have people ... to put the ball in the back of net," Pedrick said. "But when we feel like we want to play, you see a very good team. It's just that when you have most of the kids playing 90 minutes, you get some nagging injuries. You don't have the depth to give the bench a rest."
Pedrick admitted he thought it would be a little easier than it was last year - his rookie season. He came in fresh off Ipswich High's two tremendous seasons - among the best any Cape Ann League Small program has ever had.
"I was an arrogant freshman," he said. "I thought it would be easy, and I was shocked. It was a gut check. It was real physical, and I realized I couldn't run for 90 minutes a game."
Hence, the emphasis this past season was training - and more training. He ran 5 to 7 miles a day, rarely missing a day.
"What's been a problem my whole history of soccer has been fitness," Pedrick said. "I suffered a really bad injury freshman year of high school, and I wasn't able to get back into shape fast. I worked on foot skills and little things. My main focus this off-season was fitness. If I could get into shape, everything else would come. The way I see it, this is my last four years of competitive soccer. I love it, and I worked by butt off to get here."