New England Soccer Today

DeNormandie determined

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – During last Saturday’s Revolution U-18 match against the NJSA 04 U-18s, forward Cole DeNormandie found just about every which way not to score.

Whether it was a sublime header, a sneaky shot, or a rocket from distance, DeNormandie did well to put each one on frame. But, all he could do was shake his head as the NJSA 04 keeper make one acrobatic save after another.

“I’m sure he’s disappointed that he wasn’t able to connect on them,” said Revolution U-18 head coach John Frederick. “But, he’s connected in previous matches and he’s got a bright future ahead of him.”

That future wasn’t nearly as bright when DeNormandie first showed up for his Academy tryout in 2009. Unlike some of his peers, the teenager arrived to the tryout with a touch of anxiety.

“The first tryout I was a little nervous,” said DeNormandie. “I ended up doing alright, but it was hard to get into a rhythm when you’re playing with kids you’ve never played with before.”

It was an early lesson that the Lincoln, MA native learned, and later accepted, if he was to succeed at a higher level.

“It was definitely good,” said DeNormandie. “You have to do it if you want to make the team. The tryout counts.”

Although the 6-1 striker was thrilled to get the call about earning a spot at the Academy, he also understood that the real work was still ahead of him.

“It was a good feeling (to make the Academy),” said DeNormandie. “I was excited, but I think it was also like ‘on to the next thing’ for me. You know, once you make the team – now you have to perform.”

Performing well wasn’t a problem at all for the striker. During his first season with the U-16s, he scored 10 goals and added three assists in 28 matches during the 2009-10 U.S. Soccer Development Academy campaign.

One person who’s been impressed with DeNormandie’s performances since that tryout is Frederick.

“Cole’s a really talented athlete,” said Frederick. “Physically, he’s very gifted, he’s strong and fast, really improved on the ground with the ball and he’s more and more dangerous.”

DeNormandie has remained dangerous even at the U-18 level. Through eight matches this season, the 17-year-old has a pair of goals and would probably have at least two more had it not been for a couple of impressive saves at the hands of the NJSA 04 keeper.

While his goalscoring rate may be somewhat lower this season, the striker has acknowledged that the transition from the U-16 to the U-18 level has been more of a challenge than he initially expected – and it has nothing to do with the escalating talent level.

“The games have been tough,” said DeNormandie. “Going into 90 minute (matches at the U-18 level), this is my first season doing that so I think once you get to the final five minutes in each half, it’s kind of a fight because it’s usually not there so it’s about getting your fitness up and getting used to that. That’s probably been the toughest part.”

Despite the growing pains, early buzz has projected DeNormandie, who will play his college soccer at the University of Cincinnati in the fall, as a potential candidate for reserve league action with the senior squad this spring given his size and skills. It’s an opportunity that the teenager is particularly eager about.

“Hopefully, I’ll be able to play with the reserves this spring,” said DeNormandie. “The coaches said that a couple of players will be able to come and play with the reserves.”

Of course, DeNormandie will be content with playing for the reserves for so long. Even though he’s still in high school, the tall and physical forward is already eyeing the next step.

“Hopefully, I’ll be able to get onto the first team,” said DeNormandie. “That’s a big goal of mine.”

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