Nico Hurtado is one of the state's deadliest strikers. Last year he scored 37 goals to break the Ransom Everglades single-season record, and this year he's already bettered that mark, with 38 goals through the team's first 15 games. He also became the school's career leader for goals, surpassing the old mark of 99. We caught up with Hurtado to ask him about his goals for this season and the recruitment process that resulted in a commitment to Princeton, among other topics.
ESPHHS: How's the team looking?
NH: I think we are looking better than ever. We didn't have any of our starters graduate last year and our chemistry is at its highest. My high school team (Ransom Everglades) has a record of 14 wins, no loses, and one tie. We tied our archrival Gulliver Prep in a very close game and we hope to beat them this month on our home field. We have had a couple of injuries that we've overcome, but once we are healthy I believe we can go all the way to states this year.
ESPNHS: Last year you guys lost in double overtime to eventual state champ University School. Describe that game.
NH: Last year's University's game was probably the toughest loss of my career. We weren't accustomed to their big field and that made them have more possession than us throughout the game. However, we played our hearts out and did have clear scoring chances even one where I scored, but was called offside. We went back and forth for most of the game, but with just 5 minutes left before PKs they scored off of a cross and we were left in shock.
ESPNHS: Does that loss motivate you?
NH: I still play that game in my mind today thinking what we could have done differently. Knowing that they ended up wining the state championship and the fact that we have our starting 11 back makes our goal for this year to win the state shampionship. I believe that if we play our style of game, we can beat any team in the state.
ESPNHS: What was the recruiting process like? Best and worst parts?
NH: I can sum up my recruiting process in one word: intense. This last summer was stressful with visits and calls from coaches, but at the same time rewarding since I knew I was going to play soccer which I am so passionate about. The best part was knowing I was achieving my dream and that I got to know where I was going before my classmates. The worst part was all the pressure I felt about making the right decision; but at the end, I am very happy where I am going.
ESPNHS: How did you decide on Princeton?
NH: At the end I was between Cornell, UPenn, and Princeton. I picked Princeton because I felt this feeling of belonging. I fell in love with the campus, the coaches made me feel great, and it's the best mix of a soccer program with a prestigious academic institution for my education which was what I was looking for.
ESPNHS: That’s a tough academic school. You’re in the National Honor Society. How do you balance athletics and academics?
NH: For me it's all about time management and discipline. I am blessed to be able to go to a great school with outstanding teachers who are willing to go the extra mile to help me achieve excellence in class. Academics have always been high in my family's priority list and I maximize all my free periods to do homework.
ESPNHS: You were born in the U.S. but have dual citizenship because your parents are from Colombia. Who do you root for if those two countries play each other?
NH: That’s a really tough question. Colombia hasn’t qualified to the last few World Cups so I've been rooting for USA all the way in the World Cup.
ESPNHS: Would you ever want to play professionally in Colombia? In the MLS?
NH: My plan right now is to graduate from Princeton and then see what opens up from there based on college soccer performance. Soccer is my passion and I would love to be able to play competitively for the rest of my life, so if the opportunity to play professional opened up I would take it for sure.
ESPNHS: Who are some of the best players you’ve faced in South Florida, and what makes them so good?
NH: The best two defenders that I have faced both graduated last year. The Edison center back, Nelson Milsaint, was extremely fast and very good in the air. I also played against Gulliver center back and my club teammate, Gonzalo Mengotti, who was a very good tackler and organized in the back.
ESPNHS: What makes high school and club soccer different? Which do you prefer?
NH: I would say club soccer is more about touch and possession, while high school soccer is more physical. High school soccer season in Miami is huge with a lot of emotion. For example, our biggest rival is Gulliver Prep and those games are packed with big crowds which makes it very fun to play in. Last year was very interesting because I played one year up for my club team, the Real Madrid SAA and eight of my club teammates were playing for Gulliver against me during high school season. There is always something special and a sense of pride when I put my Ransom Everglades High School shirt on.
ESPNHS: What are your ultimate goals with soccer?
NH: More importantly than my individual potential for this year, what I want above all is a state championship so I can celebrate it with my best friends and teammates. I want to have a great career at Princeton and hopefully win multiple Ivy League titles.
ESPNHS: Anything else people should know about you?
NH: I am just a regular guy who had a dream, worked hard, and had a great family who supported me. I can truly say that I dreamed it and now I am living it!
Spit Your Game is weekly Q&A with Florida athletes. To suggest a deserving player to profile, leave a name in the comments or email us.