BANGOR, Maine — Abby Pyne, a 6-foot sophomore goalkeeper for the John Bapst Memorial High School girls soccer team, has verbally committed to play for Duke University starting in the fall of 2014.
“I love the school,” said Pyne of the Durham, N.C.-based institution. “I know not a lot of people commit this early, but when I [visited] there, it made me feel like I was home.”
The Dixmont resident also visited Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., and Boston College before making her decision.
“They all offered me [an opportunity to commit],” Pyne said, “but I felt Duke was the right fit.”
She does have some footsteps to follow — her father, Dr. Jay Pyne, is a Duke grad. Abby, who is considering taking a premed course of study, said she wasn’t pressured to tread the same path.
“He was very good about letting me make my own decision,” she said.
All three schools are highly regarded with excellent soccer programs, she said. Stanford defeated Duke for the NCAA Division I women’s soccer championship last fall.
Pyne’s age, 15, did make part of the recruiting process a challenge. Most of the work had to be done by her because she wasn’t yet at least a junior.
“I went to a summer [soccer] camp down there,” she said. “The coaches can talk to you as long as you’re on campus, but once you leave, they can’t contact you.
“You can call them, but they can’t call you. And you can email them, but they can’t email back.”
Her dad saw that, too.
“At the highest levels, the recruiting has gotten earlier and earlier,” he said.
But now Abby Pyne feels unburdened.
“This takes a huge weight off, but it also makes me want to push harder [to improve],” she said. “I want to excel at Duke.”
The other good fit she saw was the goalkeeper situation at Duke.
“Three years from now, the goalies who are there will be seniors,” said Abby Pyne. “The first year I’ll just try to get familiar with the pace. Maybe I’ll play some [the first year], but if not, hopefully I’ll play the next three years.”
She does have experience on the international level as a member of the Region I U.S. Youth Soccer squad. Her U-15 team competed most recently last weekend in Spain, winning two of their three games.
“It was top-quality competition,” she said. “And the fields were incredible.”
She had to miss Bapst’s Eastern Maine Class B quarterfinal game because of the tournament, but she does plan to keep playing basketball.
“I put soccer before basketball, but I love basketball, too,” said the Crusaders’ center.
Pyne won’t be able to sign a National Letter of Intent, the official document securing her spot, until after Feb. 1, 2013, during her junior year. That allows the athlete a chance to make sure the choice was right. Abby Pyne sees that as just a formality.
“I’m not looking for another school and they’ve never backed out of a commitment before,” said Pyne.