A major force in youth soccer in Italy, Lorenzo Boselli is now making waves on the university level in America.
Lorenzo Boselli will never forget being first in line to kick in the penalty shootout for Syracuse University at the NCAA men’s soccer Division I national championship game in December.
Boselli, a midfielder, had played the first 90 minutes but sat out the extra time. It was a cold winter day, his body was cooling down and the opposing team, Indiana University, had converted its first penalty.
“I was twice as nervous,” he says. “Fortunately, I scored.”
Syracuse ended up winning its first men’s soccer Division I championship, and Boselli, a 22-year-old native of Bregnano, Italy, helped make university history, scoring three goals and four assists in the game.
The closeness shared by Syracuse’s players is among the reasons the team prevailed last year, Boselli says. “Whether you play 90 minutes or not at all, the group is really united, really close. We have a beautiful relationship.”
Syracuse celebrated the men’s soccer win before a basketball game in late January, when the team was presented trophies and took photos with fans. “It was really great,” Boselli says. “Something like that wouldn’t happen in Italy, unless it’s Serie A.”
Soccer in Italy, and in Europe in general, is much more technical, while in the United States, it’s more physical and intense — both in training and on the field, Boselli says.
“I found myself running distances during games that in Italy I couldn’t have imagined — and I didn’t get cramps, like I often did in Italy,” he says. “Here, with the training and the recovery methods we use, it never happens.”
Soccer in the United States is also more of a meritocracy, he asserts. “In Italy, if you know this or that person, you play. If you have a huge name, you play, even if you’re 40 years old, and you’re walking (instead of running) on the field.”
Boselli started playing before age 4 with his town’s soccer club, which won its first regional championship in 2015 while Boselli was there. He then joined the SSD Ausonia 1931 soccer club, which made the regional championship final. That was followed by a stint with the 1913 Seregno Calcio soccer club, which made the U19 Juniors National Championship final. He finally landed at the Fenegrò Calcio soccer club before being recruited in the summer of 2019 to play at Dallas College Richland in Texas.
“I came to the United States telling myself, ‘This way I can win a little,’” he jokes.
And win he did. Dallas Richland attained three National Junior College Athletic Association Division III championships, with Boselli netting 44 goals and 22 assists. He was named the 2021 Player of the Year and tournament MVP, and was recruited by Syracuse in the summer of 2022.
While he had a lot of fun in Dallas, playing for Syracuse is on another level, he says.
“Last season, we always had a full stadium. The grandstands were always full, and for the most important games, the hill behind one of the goals was always full of students,” he recalls.
In Syracuse, he also found a more structured program with a rigorous training schedule. He’s getting better grades than in Italy, but that’s because academics are less intense here, he notes.
Boselli is majoring in health and exercise science, and expects to graduate in December after a delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He hopes the team will repeat last year’s win and aspires to be drafted by an American or European team.
“I have always had a huge interest in sports in general, and it’s what I want to do when I’m older,” he says. “If it’s not soccer, for whatever reason, I want to stay involved with the sports world.”
His U.S. experience has prompted him to become more extroverted, he says, adding that he’s learned to stand his ground rather than walk away if an opponent provokes him during a game. “It’s just about not letting people walk all over you, and standing up for yourself.”
The above appears in the April 2023 issue of the print version of Fra Noi. Our gorgeous, monthly magazine contains a veritable feast of news and views, profiles and features, entertainment and culture. To subscribe, click here.