By Michael Lewis
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — When he was recruited by Kim Wyant to attend New York University in 2017, Pablo Vargas was not taken aback that she was a woman.
Vargas saw the Garden City, N.Y. resident as a soccer coach, the head men’s soccer coach at New York University, not as a woman.
“That was no problem,” Vargas said earlier this fall. “She was one of the most professional people I met. I looked past that 100 percent. There was nothing there.”
But everything was there for Vargas, who was looking for a leading academic college at which he could play soccer and pursue a business degree. Vargas, a freshman defender and a Weston, Fla. native, was a four-year starter at Cypress Bay High School, where he received the AP Scholar with Distinction Award.
“It was one of the schools I was looking at,” Vargas said. “She approached me and then she really convinced me of the program itself and the school. I came to visit. She took me around and had a great time. I really fell in love with the program, with the coach and the team in general.”
As it turned out, the 6-foot, 165-lb. Vargas felt recruiting was one of Wyant’s “greatest attributes.” Wyant, a former U.S. international goalkeeper, helped the Long Island Lady Riders to a pair of W-League titles and was coach and general manager of the team as well.
“She puts the program in a very high place and puts NYU as a priority,” he said. “She really stresses academics of the program because we are Division III. She wants the players to know that its extremely competitive. Every game is going to be a challenge.
“We want grow as a program. Our eventual goal is to win the NCAA tournament. She made that very clear. Even though academics is a priority, soccer is going to be become very, very intense and very competitive.”
Wyant said NYU competed with Harvard University and Boston College for Vargas.
“Thank God he came to NYU,” she said. “If there’s one player — Grant [Engel] our goalkeeper is having a stellar year — there is not question about that, he definitely has kept us in some games — but Pablo can be another huge reason. Not the single reason, but obviously a huge, huge factor in what we’ve done this season.”
The Violets have conceded only 11 goals in 17 matches.
“So you got to talk that up to Pablo, Grant playing well in goal, basically, our defensive backline,” Wyant said.
NYU will try to keep that number at 11 as it will face Haverford College in the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament in Montclair, N.J. Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Wyant is believed to be the first woman to coach a team into an NCAA men’s soccer tournament.