By BRIAN CUNNIFF
Former Lower Cape May Regional High School and Monmouth University standout Madie Gibson has signed a professional contract with a top-flight team in Europe.
Gibson, a 2015 graduate of Lower Cape May, has signed with Gintra Universitetas, a 15-time champion of A Lyga, the top professional league in Lithuania. Gintra is a regular qualifier for the UEFA Champions League.
“To play soccer overseas is a great opportunity for me to start my professional career,” Gibson said from Lithuania via a Twitter messenger conversation on Tuesday. “Gintra Universitetas is the top team in Lithuania and qualifies for the Champions League every year. This is an awesome steppingstone for me to become a better soccer player and to experience a much higher level of play.”
Gibson first traveled overseas to play in late January when she was signed to a trial contract with AC Sparta Praha in Czech Republic for the remainder of the team’s season, which concluded in late February.
Gintra Universitetas was set to begin a new A Lyga season early next month but all soccer activities have been suspended due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard,” Gibson said. “Our games and practices have been put on hold until further notice. Right now I’m just working on my ball skills and my fitness on my own in hopes that we will start up again the near future.”
According to the Monmouth athletics website, Gibson is the fourth former Monmouth player to play professional soccer. One of the others is Christie Pearce Rampone, a former captain of the U.S. women’s national team who is the second-most capped player in world history with 311 appearances with the national team from 1997 through 2015.
Gibson is considered one of the best players in Monmouth women’s soccer history. She was twice named Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year, posting 35 goals and 32 assists during her career. She helped Monmouth win four straight MAAC regular-season and conference-tournament titles. Gibson is Monmouth’s first three-time all-region choice and is only the second Monmouth player named first team all-MAAC four times.
“Madie had an unbelievable career for us and it has been long time goal of hers to play professional soccer,” Monmouth head coach Krissy Turner told the school’s athletics website. “This is a great opportunity for her to play for a competitive team that has high aspirations. We are excited for Madie to get started and look forward to following her successful career as a pro.”
At Lower Cape May, Gibson became the most prolific goal scorer in Cape May County high school girls soccer history, finishing her career with 126 career goals. She helped the Lady Tigers to three division or conference titles in the Cape-Atlantic League and an appearance in the South Jersey Group III title game as a freshman in 2011. She scored a program-record 41 goals as a senior in 2014.
“It’s great news to hear this has happened for her,” said Brett Matthews, Gibson’s high school coach at Lower Cape May. “The thing about Madie, I used to tell everyone when she was here that when she left this school I always thought her ceiling was going to be through the roof. She was a great player here, arguably the best player to come out of here, but I always thought she had so much more potential. It was awesome to see when she went to Monmouth that she took that potential and maximized all of it. It just seems like every time, she seems to over-exceed whatever the expectations are. I’m so excited for her. It’s great to see her get this opportunity.”
Gibson was also a standout basketball and lacrosse player at Lower Cape May. In basketball, Gibson finished her career with more than 1,000 career points and helped the Lady Tigers win their first and to date only South Jersey title as a senior in 2015.