Islander headed to Villanova to play soccer
Marco Islander Jessica Andrade loves playing the game of soccer.
The Lely High School senior and two-year captain began playing soccer when she was 5 years old, when her father took her to his native Portugal where she played pick-up games with the guys.
Over the years, she has honed her skills to the point that she is now set to continue her academic and soccer careers at Villanova University as a scholarship player.
And make no mistake—Andrade is a student-athlete.
"I have a 5.1 GPA and I'm secretary of the National Honor Society," she said, listing a few of her academic achievements. She is also a member of the math club. Andrade currently ranks 11th in her high school class.
"I'm proud of that," she said, "especially because of the amount of time I spend playing soccer."
In addition to playing for Lely, Andrade has played in the Elite Clubs National League for the past three years, traveling around the nation, squaring off against the best teams in each state.
"I've also been on the Florida state team," she said, "this is my fifth year doing that. It's through the Olympic development program. There's a series of try-outs just to make it to the state pool. They pick an A,B, and C team. I've been on the A team all of those years."
What that means is traveling every weekend. So spare time is a rare commodity for this teenager.
Andrade's Lely team finished its season with a second round playoff loss to Naples. That loss ends a childhood of playing soccer with five Marco Island teammates.
"We've known each other since kindergarten at Tommie Barfield," she said of her relationship with Lauren Hanscom, Christy Torstenson, Jenny Carter, Lexie Lunquist and Morgan Burke.
"We played together at the Charter Middle School. We basically won all of our games there. We've been a really solid group from the start."
Despite playing at the elite level, Andrade's time with the Lely team has been special to her.
"I've been on the varsity team all four years," she said. "It's been awesome. It was really cool because I got the social aspect of it there. It was more fun soccer. Not as much stress. I had a really good time with the players there."
Though she had other attractive offers, attending Villanova ultimately was an easy decision for her.
"I was juggling a couple of other offers," she said. "I had offers from Elon University, Rollins University, Stetson University and Dartmouth. I just fell in love with Villanova during my visit there. I fell in love with the campus. All of the people I met there were just so amazing. And they have a really great business and law program there, which is what I'm looking to go into."