30 NJ Players to Watch: Nickolette Driesse
MSG Varsity counts down the top 30 New Jersey athletes to watch, in no particular order, for the upcoming school year. Today, we highlight No. 21, Wayne Hills girls soccer star Nickolette Driesse.
The best forwards just don’t take no for answer. If a keeper comes up with a big save or a shot happens to be off the mark, it’s just fodder to drive a striker to fire at a more accurate rate.
If anyone understands that, it’s Nickolette Driesse. But, then accuracy has never really been an issue for the Wayne Hills senior sniper. Driesse scores goals at high rate despite always being the center of a defense’s attention, due in part to her value of precision as to not squander opportunities.
Committed to powerhouse North Carolina since her junior year, Driesse applies a relentless amount of pressure on the goal. She can devour open space en route to the net, dice up a defensive unit with her sticky yet creative touch and unfurl blasts from distance with stunning control.
But, the flurry of goals she’s delivered over her three years atop the Wayne Hills attack is just layer of a much more complete package. Driesse is totally in tune with the obvious tactic opponents like to employ, sending multiple players in her direction to challenge and impede her route.
It’s those instances where her awareness becomes apparent. Driesse is superb at holding possession, shielding off challenges and buying time for space off the ball to open. It’s only then that she will connect with a teammate running off her, eager to apply a finishing touch to one of her feeds.
After knocking in 31 goals and setting up 16 more as a junior to help Wayne Hills to an 18-2 mark that included the Big North Conference, National Division title as well as the Passaic County Tournament championship, Driesse ran her career scoring sum to 78. In that PCT final, a 5-1 victory over Clifton, she accounted for two goals, stamping how much she embraces the chance to produce big goals in big games.
Beyond how efficiently she can put a ball in the back of the net, Driesse is a tireless worker on the field, always moving to get available to receive a pass. While plenty of strikers have a reputation for suffering from tunnel vision that focuses squarely on the net when they are in the vicinity of it, Driesee breaks that mold. Her timely modesty around the net invites teammates to join the offense, thus stretching a defense to its limits.
Gregg Lerner covers girls soccer for MSG Varsity. Follow him on Twitter: @gregglerner