Madie Gibson finished both her high school and collegiate soccer careers as a dominant scoring threat.
The Lower Cape May Regional High School and Monmouth University graduate has earned the opportunity to continue that success at the professional level.
Gibson, The Press 2014 Girls Soccer Player of the Year and one of the most decorated athletes in Monmouth history, on Feb. 29 signed a six-month contract with Gintra Universitetas in Šiauliai, Lithuania.
Gintra Universitetas, which competes in A Lyga, the top women’s league in Lithuania, captured its 15th consecutive league title last season and qualified for the Champions League competition.
The 23-year-old Gibson now resides in Lithuania.
“Gintra Universitetas is the top team in Lithuania, and it is a great opportunity for me to start my professional career,” Gibson said via email Tuesday afternoon.
“I believe this experience and the level of play will help me to become a better soccer player.”
The season, which was supposed to be underway, was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gibson, along with other league players, trains on her own, following a fitness-and-ball skill schedule, which helps improve things such as footwork and ball control.
The 5-foot-8 former Cape May resident is still excited to have the opportunity to compete, even if that means waiting until the outbreak slows down.
“Playing professional soccer has been a dream of mine ever since I can remember,” Gibson said, “and to look back, knowing that the hours I have put into this sport have finally paid off, is amazing.”
Before signing with Gintra Universitetas, Gibson had a month-long trial with AC Sparta Praha in Prague.
With the help of her agency, Upper V Athletes, Gibson then signed with the top-tier Lithuanian team.
“I enjoyed my time there (in the Czech Republic) and learned a lot about myself as a player and the professional level of play,” Gibson said.
Gibson finished her high school career at Lower with 126 goals, the most in program history.
Brett Matthews, who had coached Gibson at Lower, resigned as the Caper Tigers’ coach in November after nine seasons at the helm.
He said Gibson also surpassed boys scoring leader Mike Gavin for the overall Lower record. As a senior, Gibson set the school’s single-season scoring record with 41 goals.
Gibson led the Caper Tigers to the South Jersey Group II quarterfinals and a 15-3-2 record that season.
“She is a remarkable kid,” Matthews said. “She was so great to coach and to have on the team. What was really amazing is she just excelled at the next level (referring to her collegiate career).
“She has all the ability in the world to continue to excel. I am just so happy for her and proud that all her potential and ability are showing.”
Gibson led Monmouth to four consecutive Metro-Atlantic Athletic Conference regular-season and conference tournament titles.
She finished her collegiate career with 102 career points, fifth most in program history. The high-scoring forward scored 35 goals and had 32 assists.
Gibson was the first three-time, all-region selection in team history and the second player to be named first-team All-MAAC in each of her four seasons.
She was the MAAC Offensive Player of The Year in 2018.
“Madie had an unbelievable career for us, and it has been (a) long time goal of hers to play professional soccer,” Monmouth coach Krissy Turner said in a statement on the university’s website.
“This is a great opportunity for her to play for a competitive team that has high aspirations. We are excited for (Gibson) to get started and look forward to following her successful career as a pro.”
Gibson said she “just wanted to thank my coaches throughout my college career who have really pushed me into being the best player that I can be and keeping my love for soccer alive.”