In a time where uncertainty clouds local sports due to the coronavirus outbreak, Bristol Eastern boys soccer goalkeeper Nate DiLoreto can breathe easier after securing the next chapter of his playing career.
The Lancers’ standout stopper verbally committed to the University of Hartford on Wednesday after a memorable junior campaign where he tallied 12 shutouts, including blanking Bunnell in the second round of the Class L state tournament. Now, following his final season with Eastern, DiLoreto will make the short 19-mile trek to compete at the Division-I level with the Hawks next year.
“At first it was kind of nerve-wracking because I didn't know where I was going to go or how far away I'd be, but now that I know that I'll be in state and close to home, it's a lot of pressure off of my shoulders now, because I know where I'm going to end up,” DiLoreto said. “It feels really good to know where I'm going to go and how the program and the school is.”
For DiLoreto, it was the program and the school that set Hartford apart from the rest. He had another D-I offer on the table and was in talks with multiple other schools, but prior to his junior season, DiLoreto went on a visit to the Hartford campus and felt like he was looking at the next phase of his academic and athletic life.
“They were redoing a lot of the buildings and stuff like that, and I was just looking around and could really see myself there,” DiLoreto said. “The campus was really tucked away, and the way it was set up was just somewhere I could see myself.”
Hartford also offered DiLoreto a path to another goal, to find his way to ESPN as a communications major. Both on the field and in the classroom, the Hawks offered a seemingly perfect fit.
“Their program and the coaches are really good,” DiLoreto said. “What I want to study in college, their program is really good with that too. They’re combined with a company I want to work with, so if I do my studies I can do my internships there too.”
DiLoreto, who allowed multiple goals in a game just once all of last season, has been the backbone of Eastern’s team since becoming a regular contributor in 2018. He was the team’s only junior captain last year and led the Lancers to an undefeated regular season and the top overall seed in the state tournament. Listed as one of the state’s 20 players to watch this season by the New England Soccer Journal, DiLoreto’s impressive resume also includes a spot on the FSA FC team of the Elite Clubs National League, and will soon add Division-I athlete to that list of accomplishments.
“I've always thought I could reach that,” DiLoreto said of becoming a college athlete at the Divison-I level. “I don't want to say I'm that good, but if I just kept working hard and had my teammates help me out, I knew I could improve. Eastern gave me the opportunity to play a few games my freshman year, and then gave me the opportunity to start from sophomore year going into my senior year. They gave me a lot of opportunities to prosper and get to where I am today.”
DiLoreto’s monster junior season with the Lancers also helped him secure a college scholarship in a time where recruitment has become a challenge due to the lack of games and opportunities to showcase talent. DiLoreto’s season with FSA was canceled this year, and with his senior season being delayed until at least Oct. 1, Wednesday’s commitment to Hartford means he can enjoy his shortened senior season knowing that he has his next stop secured, a relief he doesn’t take lightly given the circumstances and the outlook of sports in Connecticut.
“It was hard because you weren't playing and coaches couldn't see you, but now that I'm verbally committed and have the chance to go to the next level, it's definitely a relief,” DiLoreto said. “I don't have to keep on worrying about where I want to go next or what will happen next if something doesn't go through. It's a big relief.”
Now, DiLoreto turns his focus back to Eastern and what will be a unique senior season. There will likely be no state tournaments, as postseason competition is expected to be regionalized to limit travel, but at the moment, the Lancers will get 12 regular season games, giving DiLoreto a few more chances to take in the view from between the goalposts at Eastern before becoming a Hawk.
“I'm just looking to work with the boys,” DiLoreto said. “It's senior year, and you don't know how it's going to end. I'm telling everyone to treat the season like it's your last. I know I was always looking forward to Senior Night, and that might not happen now. Last year was an amazing year, but you never know. This year could be a lot different.”