Last spring, Jackson Ragonese (Portsmouth, N.H.) came to the realization that Division 3 college soccer was the path best suited for him.
Ragonese, a Class of 2022 defender who features for Seacoast United’s U-19 MLS Next Academy team, decided he wanted his next level of soccer to be highly competitive but also be more conducive to a little more life balance than perhaps playing for a D1 program would offer.
Wheaton College, located in Norton, Mass., proved to be the ideal fit.
"I had a really good vibe from the moment I met (head) coach (Bryan) Waggoner and (assistant) coach (Andrew) Schaefer," said Ragonese, who will be 18 on Sunday and attends Portsmouth High School. "With all the recruiting, there was a lot of partial interest. But with (Wheaton), it was right away – a direct personal interest. They always made efforts outside of soccer. They’d text on holidays and really seemed interested in me, not only as a player, but as a person.