Ever since her freshman year, Marian Central's Maria Mercurio knew she wanted to play golf at the next level.
That dream became a reality when the Hurricanes senior committed to play collegiately at NCAA Division-I Saint Francis (Penn.) for coach Lisa Warrilow and the Red Flash.
Mercurio, who earned Northwest Herald All-Area first team and All-East Suburban Catholic Conference honors last fall, visited the Loretto, Pennsylvania campus for the first time in December and announced her commitment Thursday.
"Ever since I was really little, I knew I could get really good if I worked hard on my game," Mercurio said. "Freshman year was when I knew that’s what I wanted to do."
Mercurio got her start in golf at four years old by first playing with her grandpa, dad and older brother, A.J, at McHenry County Club.
She hasn't stopped since.
"My grandpa always said I should do what makes me happy," Mercurio said. "My dad and brother always knew I could play (at the next level), and they always encouraged me to go for it."
A year after advancing to the Class 1A state tournament, the Hurricanes were the third and last team to move on from the Class 2A Freeport Regional. Earlier in the year, Mercurio placed third at the McHenry County Meet with a 78 and fifth at the ESCC Meet with an 89.
"Hearing we were back in (Class) 2A put a damper on the start to the season," she said. "I think the pressure got to us because we were so confident in 1A the year before. Personally, I know I could have done a little better, but I parred my last hole of high school (golf), so that was a big highlight of my senior year."
Mercurio said she'll miss the friendships she's made throughout her four years at Marian but is looking forward to visiting new golf courses in new parts of the country.
"I'm excited to travel to all of these new places," Mercurio said. "We go to Florida a couple of times, and North and South Carolina, too."