Lenox's Matt Tibbetts signs his Letter of Intent to play D-I soccer at Holy Cross

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LENOX — The school year might not have started out exactly the way Matt Tibbetts might have liked. But it is ending just fine and dandy.

Tibbetts, the Lenox High School boys soccer goalkeeper, signed his national letter of intent Tuesday afternoon to play soccer at The College of the Holy Cross in Worcester. He is the latest in a line of Lenox athletes who signed LOIs to compete at the Division I level.

"It's surreal," Tibbetts said after the signing ceremony in the Lenox High School gymnasium. "I can't believe that it all worked out, after breaking my hand [in the off-season] and concussions. It feels great to be around my friends and family and share this special moment."

Tibbetts said his final three choices were Holy Cross, Northeastern and Lehigh. Northeastern and the University of Massachusetts were first to have Tibbetts in sight. Holy Cross wasn't on the radar early on, but the Lenox keeper said once he went there, his mind was made up.

"The energy and the connectivity between the players," he said, responding to a question about what tilted the field toward Worcester. "When I went on my visit, they all made me feel at home. It's a great bunch of guys, no attitudes and no egos.

"That's just what I want to be around, both academically and athletically for the next couple of years.

He'll play at Holy Cross for head coach Marco Koolman. Koolman just wrapped up his sixth season at Holy Cross. The Crusaders were 8-9-3 last fall and 4-3-2 in the Patriot League. Holy Cross lost to Colgate in the Patriot League championship game by a 1-0 score.

The Crusaders have one senior-to-be in goalkeeper, Henry Stutz, who played all 20 games last year. He he had a 1.33 goals-against average and had seven shutouts. The team was 4-0-3 in those shutouts.

Behind Stutz are Bobby Hurstak and Nick Conklu. They will be a junior and sophomore, respectively, next year. There is another freshman coming in as well.

Koolman has been a head coach since 1991. He has a 114-53-21 record in 21 seasons as a head coach. The native of the Netherlands led Division II Franklin Pierce to an NCAA championship in 2007, and a national runner-up in 2005.

"That's a hard question to answer, what makes him such a special player," Lenox coach Matt Cote said. "I can tell you he's the best goalkeeper I've seen in boys and girls soccer."

Tibbetts backstopped Lenox to a Western Massachusetts Division IV championship, and he made five saves in a 1-0 loss to Bromfield in the state semifinals. Tibbetts gave up only that one goal in 280 minutes of post-season soccer.

"What he brought to the team for me, was not just being a good goalkeeper but as a good captain, the sort of day-to-day, what's the strategy for the next day coach," Cote said. "Texts at night, back and forth at night, game plans, diagrams with circles and arrows. He was a schemer. He liked to think about our opponent. He liked to think about strengths and weaknesses."

For his part, Tibbetts said that he really didn't start thinking about playing in college until his older sister Emily was looking into the process. Emily Tibbetts runs at Williams.

"I didn't really start training hard until my sophomore year. That's when my sister was looking at running at schools," he said. "I realized that was something I was interested in. I knew I would have to put in a lot of hard work to do so."

Matt Tibbetts is the latest in a maroon line of athletes who have had Letter of Intent signing ceremonies to compete at the Division I level.

Last year, Emma Jourdain signed to run cross country at the University of Maine and Shannon Meisberger signed to run hurdles at Georgetown. The year before, Alessandra Arace signed a LOI to play soccer at Division I Providence.

Tibbetts will see two of his former Berkshire County rivals somewhere down the road next fall. Kevin Boino and Jamie Rosiello are both playing at Division I UMass.

"It was awesome" to sign on the line, said Tibbetts. "I always looked up to people like Allesandra Arace, who did it, and [former Georgetown running star] Scott Carpenter. It's a great feeling."


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