Wood's Gankiewicz signs with Division I St. Francis women's soccer

According to a recent NCAA study, only 2.4 percent of high school girls’ soccer players go on to play collegiately at the Division I level.

So in signing for a partial scholarship with NCAA Division I Saint Francis University in Loretto, Pa., James Wood senior Kaylah Gankiewicz has every reason to feel good about that accomplishment.

5ed3d8f653c2c.image“It took a lot of work, and I know not that many people have the opportunity,” said the 4-foot-11 Gankiewicz, who will be a midfielder for the Red Flash this fall. “It’s very rare to get a D-I scholarship, and I’m very thankful for that.

“I don’t like speaking too much about it, because I don’t want people thinking I’m bragging about it. But it’s hard work, and I feel like I should brag about it. It took a lot for me to get here.”

Gankiewicz joined the Metro United club team in Reston a year ago in hopes of improving her college prospects, and it paid off.

Gankiewicz said St. Francis assistant coach Frankie LaManna saw her compete with Metro United at the Penn Fusion Soccer Academy Girls Showcase in February. He invited her to take the 130-mile trip to Loretto, and by the time the month was over Gankiewicz made a campus visit and a verbal commitment to the Red Flash.

“What I like about St. Francis is that it’s far from home but not too far from home,” said Gankiewicz, who is undecided on a major. “And they said I’d have a chance to contribute my freshman year.”

Gankiewicz certainly contributed during the two seasons she played for James Wood as a forward. As a freshman, she had 10 goals and nine assists and earned first team All-Conference 21 West honors. As a junior, she had 10 goals and one assist and was a second team Class 4 All-Northwestern District pick. Gankiewicz focused on club soccer as a sophomore and was going to play this spring as a midfielder with Metro United.

St. Francis is entering its second season under head coach Ellie Davis, who led the Red Flash to a 7-9-1 record overall and a 6-4 mark in the Northeast Conference last season, good for fifth in the 11-team league.

Davis was not hired until July 22 last year, so this year’s recruiting class is her first. Gankiewicz is one of 10 players she added to her program.

Gankiewicz said she was impressed with what Davis accomplished last year and added that she’s looking forward to the next chapter in her life at school that had an enrollment of 2,289 students in 2019-20.

In describing the St. Francis campus, the diminutive Gankiewicz could just as easily be talking about the way she produces on the field.

“It’s small,” she said, “but it feels big at the same time.”

— Contact Robert Niedzwiecki at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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