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NR goalie makes JMU scholarship official

Stephanie Tarafas has been committed to James Madison University and the Lady Dukes’ field hockey program since last summer, since before the field hockey season and even her senior year at Nansemond River started.

So there was no surprise on Tuesday afternoon as Tarafas made it official, signing her letter of intent to accept a full scholarship from JMU. Just because there was no drama doesn’t mean there wasn’t emotion or pride for the occasion.

“Right now, I’m just bursting at the buttons because I’m so proud,” said Darryl Yandle, Nansemond River’s varsity field hockey coach.

Tarafas, a four-year letterwinner as Yandle’s starting goalkeeper, said getting it all signed and sent up to Harrisonburg, was “a lot of relief.”

“JMU has a great field hockey program and great academics. I really like the coaching staff and all the players,” Tarafas said.

“It’s kind of unbelievable still. You dream about things like this when you’re younger, and even though it’s happening, it’s still sort of like you’re dreaming,” Tarafas said.

This fall Tarafas was first-team All-Southeastern District and All-Eastern Region and second-team All-State. She’s been all-district on the softball field as well.

At James Madison, Tarafas is joining a program that’s built itself into a perennial power. The Lady Dukes have won three of the last four Colonial Athletic Association tournament titles, reached the NCAA Tournament three of the last four years and is constantly in the national polls.

There could even be a Suffolk dynasty in goal for the Lady Dukes. Lakeland alum Kelsey Cutchins started for JMU the last four seasons, earning first-team All-American honors in her sophomore and junior seasons. In the last four years, JMU’s record is 64-23.

“When in high school and even younger, you think “boo, it’s Lakeland,’” Tarafas said.

“But Kelsey Cutchins is great. She has so many great honors. She was on the under-21 U.S. National Team. To have the chance to follow her is more of an honor than anything else,” Tarafas said.

“Stephanie’s just an extremely hard worker. She’s been dedicated to her team and to making herself better,” Yandle said.

“Everything Stephanie’s meant and done for our school has been wonderful,” said Nansemond River athletic director Nancy Richey.