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Soccer: 2021 ALL-COUNTY GIRLS SOCCER PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Tori DellaPeruta, West Forsyth
Tori DellaPeruta
West Forsyth junior Tori DellaPeruta scored 54 goals in 20 games this season, adding the game-winning goal for West’s first-ever state championship in girls soccer. - photo by Jacob Smith

Long before her high school career even began, Tori DellaPeruta was already committed to women’s collegiate soccer powerhouse UNC Chapel Hill. 

“They are the number one women’s program in the US,” DellaPeruta said. “They have a competitive culture that I just fell in love with because everything is a competition there. Every little drill even in warm-ups, and I love to win, so that type of environment suits me. The coaches of course are very player development, but also character development and will help you grow as a player and a person.”

DellaPeruta committed to North Carolina during her freshman year of high school. She did not play on the West Forsyth soccer team her freshman or sophomore year, so this past season was her first year of high school soccer. 

“At first, I wasn’t sure how to play high school soccer,” DellaPeruta said. “I was always focused on club. I was excited, but kind of nervous that I wouldn’t get any better. As soon as I stepped on the field with my teammates, it was so much fun to be around everybody and getting to play together.”

All DellaPeruta did in her first season was shatter the all-time season goals for West, scoring 54 goals in 20 games, adding the game-winning goal for West’s first-ever state championship in girls soccer. 

“In February, as soon as the season started, I set my goal of 50 goals,” DellaPeruta said. “Fifty is a big number, but I knew if I had that goal in my mind I would get better. Our team goal was to win state. In the locker room before games, we would chant, ‘State, State, State!’”

As time ticked down during the Class 7A championship game against region rival Lambert, DellaPeruta could not contain her excitement.

“I was looking at the clock, and as soon as the time went out, I was sprinting to my teammates before the whistle even went off,” DellaPeruta said. “I wish I could go back to it, because it’s one of the best feelings. It’s indescribable. Lifting the trophy made us feel the history we just made being the first team ever to win the state tournament.”

When DellaPeruta started high school soccer, she was worried that the slower speed of play may be too much to overcome, just because she had never seen a high school soccer game before.

However, she was able to keep her consistent pregame routine to stay locked in. 

“Preparation is key to my performance,” DellaPeruta said. “If I’m mentally locked in and focused on what I need to do, I’ll go in prepared and confident. During the game, I’m just thinking how I can help this team win and impact the game. A goal of mine is to play with heart, passion, score as many goals as I can and win for my team. I play free, but I’m focused.”

Overall, DellaPeruta is thankful for her time at West, saying that in made her more confident in her finishing abilities and that they are the “best memories” of her years of high school. 

Soccer has not always been DellaPeruta’s passion. She got into the sport by following in the footsteps of her sister, Talia. In fact, DellaPeruta gave up soccer for a year practicing gymnastics. 

“I hated gymnastics even more so I went back to soccer, and as soon as I touched the ball again, I knew it was the sport for me,” DellaPeruta said. “I loved the competitiveness.” 

DellaPeruta will rejoin her sister, who spent her first year at Chapel Hill last season. DellaPeruta said she loves playing alongside her sister because the internal competition makes her a better player. 

The DellaPeruta reunion will have to wait, but it may be shorter than initially planned. DellaPeruta has only two more classes left in her high school career, which she will complete online and graduate in December.

As DellaPeruta earned more accolades throughout the season, it motivated her to get more and more and become a better player. As she decides what her next move on the field is, she wants to encourage the soccer players around her to use anything to motivate them to become the best player they can be. 

“If you’re not having fun, you need to think about what you want and then go back and make a plan on how you can do what you want to do while having fun,” DellaPeruta said. “Don’t get too caught up in the outside world, but focus on yourself.”