SHRUB OAK, N.Y. When Gianna Bensaia made her official visit to the University of New Hampshire, the Lakeland junior field hockey star knew she belonged there.
"I received a very homey feeling, and it was a positive environment," said Bensaia, who gave a verbal commitment to New Hampshire. "The location was also important because my mother said, 'I want to see my Wildcat play.'"
The New Hampshire nickname is the Wildcats.
"I have good feeling that I am going to be successful in that environment," she said.
Bensaia will join friend and former Lakeland standout Megan Bozek on the team. In fact, Bensaia is the third Lakeland impact player to select New Hampshire in the last five years. Kara Connolly, a four-year player there, was a four-year varsity starter for Lakeland and was instrumental in helping the Hornets to the 2003 and 2006 New York State Class A championships.
Bensaia also enjoyed her official visit to the University of Louisville, especially meeting with former Lakeland standout Caitlin Collins. "It was awesome being able to reconnect with her," Bensaia said.
Bensaia, who was also considering the University of Virginia, weighed many factors in making her decision. She said it came down to the academics. Bensaia plans to major in physical education and become a phys ed teacher and coach.
"I can't tell you how many schools I looked at academically," Bensaia said. "I felt the best fit for me academically, and on the field, was New Hampshire."
Bensaia also received a good feeling when she met with the field hockey team at New Hampshire. She considers herself outgoing and noticed that many of the players had the same personality.
Having the opportunity to play with Bozek again also had a major impact on Bensaia's decision.
"Megan is someone who I am used to playing with," Bensaia said. "Megan has been so successful and made such an impact on the team, I could not be more proud of her. Seeing this also made me realize that maybe some day, that could be me."
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