GVSU soccer legend Gabriella Mencotti inks pro contract with Iceland club
GV soccer ace Gabriella Mencotti inks pro contract with club abroad
After a career filled with trophies for Grand Valley State soccer, one forward is making her away across the Atlantic.
In February, graduating forward Gabriella Mencotti signed a professional contract with Throttur FC (Icelandic: Knattspyrnufélagið Þróttur and pronounced "pro-tour") to play for the club's women's team. Mencotti, who will graduate in April, plans to join the club in May.
Throttur plays in the Icelandic second division. They were close to earning promotion into the top flight last year but lost out on goals scored. With the club's need for another threat in front of the goal, a signing like Mencotti makes perfect sense.
Mencotti scored 30 goals in her senior season alone. It was the second consecutive season in which she was named the D2CCA National Player of the Year. For her career, "Gabe" knocked in 85 goals, good enough for second all-time at GVSU.
She was part of two National Championship teams as well as a national runner-up squad at GVSU. She scored the Lakers' lone goal in their Elite Eight loss against eventual national champion Central Missouri.
But her opportunity to play abroad actually came up after a former opponent recommended Throttur.
"I had a girl who I played against—she was on Florida Tech—and she actually reached out to me about how she went over there (Iceland) and had an amazing experience," Mencotti said. "I started to really look overseas, and there were a couple places that stood out, but overall I looked at Iceland, talked to the coach and it just seems like an awesome fit. I'm super excited."
Moving to a brand new country might bring fear or apprehension. But for Mencotti, the chance to play the game she loves in new surroundings is invigorating.
"I'm excited to get over there. It's just something totally different," she said. "It's not like me to just throw myself out there and go (into) something scary (and) brand new. I'm kind of excited in that sense just to try something new, go on my own and just have to figure everything out."
Mencotti credits her family as well as GVSU soccer head coach Jeff Hosler with helping her make the decision to take the trip.
"I've definitely grown up and I've seen great athletes move on and do different kinds of things," she said. "It was helpful to see all that happen and realize what I want to do and that I want to at least try something like this. Now was my best chance to do it, and I'm so blessed and so thankful that I get the opportunity to keep playing the sport I love.
"I've talked to my roommates about it, I've talked to my parents about (it), my sister, my brother, my boyfriend and then my coaching staff. Especially Jeff, he's been especially helpful throughout the whole process, reaching out to teams, doing whatever I needed in order to get myself out there and be seen by coaches."
Hosler remains appreciative of Mencotti. Like Hosler, Mencotti arrived at GVSU in 2014 and contributed to the winning culture that remains synonymous with the program.
"We talk to our players all the time about the legacy they will establish and leave when their time is done here," Hosler said in a statement given to the Grand Valley Lanthorn. "Gabby is a shining example of everything we believe our program to stand for.
"Gabby is one of the most accomplished players in school history. Her leadership, skill set and work ethic will all be a tremendous asset to any club she plays for in the future."
Mencotti hopes to bring the goals she scored in the GLIAC to Europe. A four-time GLIAC champion, Mencotti looks to fit in right away.
"I'm hoping that I can step in and get some playing time and do exactly what they need," she said. Mencotti believes the edge she's developed in between games on the practice field will carry over to Throttur.
"I think just the stuff that I carry with me is stuff that was always harped on by the coaching staff," she said. "No matter who you're playing, you need to be playing at your best level. It can be the worst team; it could be the best team. No matter what, you need to (be) playing at your best level so each game you're staying consistent throughout. I think when I'm over there, (I need to be) making sure that I am staying consistent.
"I have something to prove, so I want to have a chip on my shoulder when I'm playing."
As for GVSU soccer, Mencotti expects the team to continue its winning tradition under Hosler.
"I think a lot of (players) will jump up and have huge roles," she said. "I think just being willing to be that person who reinsures that we need to be playing our best at all times, making sure that they're doing the little things that people can follow and will do the same thing.
"I think they're going to have a great year this year and in the years following."
Hosler will have to find offense elsewhere, but the team does have proven talent returning. Freshman Ava Cook and Tara Lierman each scored 13 goals last season and will return in the fall.
For herself, Mencotti is eager to make a difference in Iceland with Throttur. The top two finishing clubs earn promotion to the Icelandic top flight.
"I really hope that I can help out in that way, scoring goals and making sure we're in the top two and we can move up the following year," she said. "For now, I'm excited to get out there and help out in any way I can."