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Woodstock Academy senior Grace Gelhaus signs NLI

It was not exactly a secret.

Woodstock Academy senior soccer player Grace Gelhaus has been verbally committed to going to Elon University in North Carolina to play soccer for some time now.

But there is a difference when the pen is put to the paper.

Gelhaus signed her National Letter of Intent to Elon on Monday.

“It’s a huge relief and a big weight off my shoulders just to have it out of the way. Now, I can just have fun,” she said with a laugh.

Gelhaus said there were several reasons why she chose to go to North Carolina.

The first impression was the best.

She said when she visited the campus, it was just beautiful and she knew that’s where she wanted to be.

And while she will be far from home, family will not be all that far away.

“My whole family is down there. All of my siblings are in the Carolinas. I will have them if I need them. My brother (Huck) will be 30 minutes from me,” Gelhaus said.

Plus, she will get a chance to play Division I soccer.

“They have a couple of positions in mind for me. I guess we will see how it all plays out,” Gelhaus said.

Woodstock Academy coach Dennis Snelling was on hand for the signing ceremony held at the Loos Center on the South Campus of Woodstock Academy.

“It’s kind of bittersweet seeing her graduate from high school and not have her on the team anymore. I think one of the first things I said to her freshman year was that she would end up playing Division I. I didn’t have much to do with it. She came in way ahead and it was nice to see her sign,” Snelling said.

Gelhaus had quite the senior year for Snelling as she finished with 25 goals and 11 assists for a Centaurs team that finished 14-5-2, won both the Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I and tournament titles and became the first Woodstock Academy girls soccer team since 2003 to make the Class L quarterfinals.

It was a great send off season for the senior.

“After how the season went, winning the division and the ECC tournament, it will definitely be a huge confidence booster for the rest of my career,” Gelhaus said. “I loved the team and didn’t want the season to end so I just gave it all I could to keep it going.”

Gelhaus saved her best for last, getting eight goals in the three state tournament matches that the Centaurs played.

“To see your best player keep getting better, is just rare. I think a lot of seniors just get tired. They know it’s going to end or they are thinking about grades or prom but she just got so much better in the second half of the year. She’s the best player I have ever worked with. She just loves the game,” Snelling said. “I imagine she will be in the top of the (Elon recruiting) group. I know she will probably start right away and she will be just fine.”