CORNING - There were many reasons for all of the smiles at Corning-Painted Post High School Friday afternoon.
First, Hawks goal keeper Erik Ekstrom committed to the University of Pennsylvania as a member of the soccer team. Next, Ekstrom confirmed that he will attend the University's Wharton School of Business - where he will concentrate on entrepreneurship and management.
A standout player for the Hawks, Ekstrom was a three-year varsity starter and two-year captain. He earned post-season honors from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, as well as the Southern Tier Athletic Conference.
Ekstrom has also competed for the Soaring Capital Soccer Club for nine years. There he helped his squad win a USYSA Region I Presidents Cup Championship and two Final Four appearances.
"It makes me feel great," Ekstrom said of playing at the D-I level. "Personally, my scholastics and my academics have always come first.
"My commitment to soccer has sometimes had to come second, but soccer has always been such a big facet of my life."
Ekstrom was also looking at Yale and Harvard, as well as Swarthmore College.
"The University of Pennsylvania is the only Ivy League school with an undergraduate business program - so that was always my main academic aim," Ekstrom said.
According to Corning head coach Steve Mastronardi, Ekstrom is ready for the next level.
"His work ethic is one of the best that I have ever seen," Mastronardi said. "Erik is one of those players, that we've had for many years, that's one to look up to and he proves that if you work hard, good things will come.
"He works 12 months a year - not only on his soccer career, but with his academics. That was what was most important to him - get into a great business school."
Ekstrom will be the Corning-Painted Post Salutatorian for the Class of 2017.