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Nation's leading scorer realizes dream
by Paul Kennedy, October 5th, 2007 8AM

TAGS:  college men


Quinnipiac's Graciano Brito isn't your typical college star.

He never played organized soccer before entering college. Three years later, he leads all NCAA Division I scorers with nine goals -- and two hat tricks -- in six games, but he still commutes 45 minutes each day between home and school and often works until midnight as a clerk at a local supermarket.

Brito starred at basketball and volleyball in his native Cape Verde Islands before immigrating to Bridgeport, Conn., at the age of 18.

Quinnipiac coach Eric Da Costa was coaching at Teikyo-Post University three years when he heard about Brito playing pickup soccer games in Bridgeport and enrolled him at Teikyo-Post, where Brito red-shirted.

The Teikyo-Post basketball team also wanted Brito, but he was so busy with learning English, doing his studies -- he held a 3.8 GPA -- and working on the side that he had no time for sports.

Da Costa brought Brito with him to Quinnipiac when he took over as the Bobcats coach in 2005. After two solid seasons, Brito has had a break-out junior year, leading Quinnipiac to a 5-0-1 start.

The Bobcats are one of only three unbeaten Division I men's teams -- quite a turnaround from last season when they won one game.

Brito, who says he played 3-on-3 games in Cape Verde but represented his country at the U-17 level in basketball and volleyball, will be a marked man when Quinnipiac enters Northeast Conference play with games at Sacred Heart on Friday and Fairleigh Dickinson on Sunday. He has scored four goals in each of the last two weekend tournaments Quinnipiac has entered.

Brito's evenings are often spent restocking shelves at a Shaw's supermarket and  often doesn't begin his studies until 1 in the morning, but he still hopes to graduate in the spring with a degree in international business.

"It's all about what I want," says Brito, who credits Da Costa with teaching him what he knows about soccer. "I never thought in my life that I would be in college. I would never even think about graduating from college. I have the chance now, I have to take advantage of it. I'm just focused, and realizing that dream."

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