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Sep, 2021

Four ISC Alums Make Impact at University of Tennessee

You often hear of a youth club contributing a player or two to a major Division I program, but four is absolutely unheard of.  And that is what we have with the ISC pipeline to the University of Tennessee.  Hannah Zaluski, Maria Nelson, Jordan Fusco, and Taylor Huff are all current members of the Lady Volunteers’ soccer squad.  And all are making a tremendous impact on the team.

Zaluski is the veteran of the group, a senior who transferred from George Washington University.  The Chagrin Falls, Ohio native earned 2017 Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team and 2018 Atlantic 10 All-Conference Second Team honors after 50 career starts and 4,482 minutes played at GW.

"Coming to Tennessee and seeing familiar faces from my old club, it just made it really welcoming and an environment that, because they were put into it and loved it, I knew I could thrive in, too,” Zaluski said.

Nelson, who hails from Medina, Ohio, is a redshirt sophomore that made 16 starts in her freshman season.  She earned 2019-20 First-Year SEC Academic Honor Roll and 2020 Fall SEC Academic Honor Roll honors during her first two seasons at Tennessee.  Nelson was a highly decorated high school and club player who earned the biggest awards, including 2018 Division I Player of the Year and 2018 United Soccer Coaches High School All-American honors.

"My experience at Internationals was basically that they were a club that was derived from family and traditions, and I loved that,” Nelson said. “That is something that I carried on to Tennessee, and it's something they had, too - a good culture, a good group of girls, and just respect.  Love your coaches, love your teammates - that's something they always put in my mind when I was little, and I grew up into a great soccer player who also had these great traditions and great things about me that could help me at Tennessee."

Fusco started her freshman season strongly, earning SEC Freshman of the Week honors.  She began her collegiate career with goals in back-to-back games against Florida Gulf Coast and Miami (Ohio), including the game-winner against Miami.  She also earned an assist at Tennessee Tech.

“I think having Taylor in my freshman class, and since we room together, I think that's been very helpful coming in, because I already have someone I know really well,” Fusco said. “We've trained together and played together before, and I think that's made it a lot easier.”

Huff has also made her presence known as a freshman.  The Mansfield, Ohio native started in her Tennessee debut, scoring two goals and adding an assist against Florida Gulf Coast.  She also scored against Tennessee Tech and Louisiana. 

“Internationals, with their values and everything that they teach, it's just helped me to transition to Tennessee and everything that they expect here,” Huff said. “Just the aspects of being on time and working hard and the style of play and being prepared - all of that has helped us transition here.”

University of Tennessee head coach Brian Pensky has been thoroughly impressed with the quartet of Internationals SC alums.

“Taylor, Jordan and Hannah have each made an immediate impact in our program,” Pensky said. “All three of them are so skillful, intelligent, and competitive...already playing in a variety of positions for us. Taylor and Jordan have come out on fire, helping our team's attack with both goals and assists.  Hannah has given us very important minutes in the back and in midfield, while adding an assist as well.  Having three years of college soccer experience under her belt is a big deal.  And then of course it's wonderful having Maria back out there with us.  She's such an important part of our team.  After a terrific freshman season in 2019, she hasn't played competitive soccer in about 21 months due to injury.  But she's healthy now, and regaining that much-needed confidence every day...which is great, because we need her!"

Club and ECNL Director Keri Sarver has been impressed with the performance of ISC alums at the University of Tennessee. 

“We pride ourselves in preparing players for the next level – whether that be college, professional or national team,” Sarver said. “We are here to teach the game of soccer, but also to teach life lessons that will impact our players outside of soccer.  It gives us great joy to see players take those lessons and use it to help them reach their goals.  It is clear that Hannah, Maria, Taylor and Jordan are doing that!   We have a lot of respect for the Tennessee program and it's awesome to follow along this season to watch all four Internationals players positively contributing the program's success.”   

This season has been incredibly successful for the Lady Volunteers, who were in the midst of a record shut out streak until a loss to Arkansas in mid-September.  They held opponents scoreless for over 633 minutes, shattering their previous record of 533 minutes without a goal.  It’s certainly very exciting to see former Internationals players involved in record-breaking moments for this prestigious Division I program.  

Photo Credit: Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics

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