Move over, Rocky Balboa. The real Italian Stallion is in Elkins, West Virginia. His name is James Pucci, and he's an electrifying forward for the Davis and Elkins men's soccer team.
It's Pucci's second year on campus, and he's made the best of his time. The Nova Southeastern University transfer has tallied 27 goals in 29 games, and currently shares the NCAA Division II scoring lead with 14 goals on the season.
"I don't think," said Pucci. "I just get a little bit of space and shoot. Thinking might be the worst thing a forward can do. If you think, those extra thought might let the defender catch you out there."
After 13 goals last year, 2013 started off a bit slow for the forward who tallied just one goal in the first four games, but in the past six, he's found his shot tallying 13 goals.
"I thought it was going to be as easy as last year," he said. "The first two games, it wasn't so easy. Then once the first goal came in, then it came like last year, first goal, second goal, third goal, and goal, goal, goal. Now I know what I'm doing again."
Pucci's play is beginning to attract a lot of attention, winning the Great Midwest Athletic Conference Soccer Player of the Week twice so far this year.
"The true nature of any good goal scorer is a guy that can score a variety of ways, which he's been able to do," said Davis and Elkins Men's Soccer Head Coach Aron Bassoff. "He has a knack of getting himself in good positions and being able to finish."
Defenses keying in on him are freeing up his teammates, and it's led the Senators to five wins in their past six games. After two assists through eight matches, Pucci's managed four in the past two.
"Our approach has always been team-concept," said Bassoff. "He's just another piece in the puzzle for us. He's just a guy that does his job and does it well."
"If a forward thinks, I have to score, I have to score, there will be a lot of reasons not to score," said Pucci. "I have 90-minutes to score, and if I don't, someone else will."