Belleville West goalie Nate Petrekovich, a first-team pick on the Belleville News-Democrat’s all-area team, won’t be far away for the next four years.
Petrekovich, a three-year starter for the Maroons, has given a verbal commitment to Quincy University. The Hawks reached the semifinals of the Division II national tournament last fall, falling 4-1 to Lynn and finishing 21-2-2. Quincy was 13-0-2 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.
“A big part of it was I wanted to be close to home,” said Petrekovich, 17, an all-Southwestern Conference pick last season. “My parents (Ron and Suzanne) are my biggest supporters. They’re very happy with my decision to stay close.
“Also, Quincy is well known for their soccer. They’ve been nationally ranked, which is a big plus. One of my dreams has always been to make it to the national tournament. All together, it just seems like a great school. The location and the size seem right for me to get a good education. I’m looking forward to it.”
Petrekovich plans to major in secondary education and would like to be a high-school history teacher when he graduates. A business degree and a future in real estate also is under consideration.
Petrekovich had four shutouts and a 1.80 goals-against average last season as the Maroons were 7-10-3 overall and 3-2-1 in the SWC. He knows the adjustment to the college level will present a host of challenges, especially with an elite program like Quincy.
“My mental game, No. 1. That’s probably my biggest part. That’s what I need to improve the most,” Petrekovich said. “Physically, I’m looking to get stronger. I’m looking to use the facilities at Quincy ... to get stronger and faster. You can always be better. Specifically, I’m looking to get better in the air. And my reflexes need to get better.
Drew Duncan, the Hawks’ goalie last season, will graduate after a stellar season in which he posted 15 shutouts and a 0.70 GAA. Duncan played every minute of the season. St. Louisan Nate Griffin will be a junior and the lone goalie returning from last season.
“I’m looking forward to being the small dog out of the whole pool. That way, hopefully, it will make me a lot better in the long run,” said Petrekovich, who anticipates being red-shirted for one season as Duncan was in 2010.
“I’m not expecting to play at all the first year,” he said. “From there on, I’m looking to battle it out with whoever’s in front of me. The coach (Mike Carpenter) and I haven’t really talked about a redshirt. However, that would be great. I could get all my generals done and could apprentice under the starting goalkeeper.”
Petrekovich also considered Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Mo., McKendree University in Lebanon and Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Fla.
“It came down to Palm Beach Atlantic University, which is in the Sun Belt Conference, or Quincy,” Petrekovich said. “Quincy’s just closer to home and I figured it would be more convenient for me. Both programs are excellent. It was great to have the opportunity to be able to possibly commit to either one of those schools, but ultimately, it came down to how close I would be to home.”
Edwardsville High graduate Robbie Tays, has two years of eligibility remaining at Quincy. He is the only other metro-east player on the Hawks roster.