For Corona’s Aztecs, National Signing Day yeilds a bumper crop
Corona reported eleven athletes—seven soccer, three football and one cross-country—signing National Letters of Intent to play a sport at the college level during ceremonies at the school on Feb. 6.
Corona girls soccer coach Matt Smith had 11 seniors on this season’s team, with seven receiving a scholarship to play at the next level.
Kelsey Cartwright, a two-sport athlete at Corona her freshman and sophomore years, will be setting off to University of North Dakota where she will play defensive midfielder and decide on a major after taking a few exploratory classes.
“Kelsey is a great leader,” said Smith. “She was the third leading goal scorer and third in assists.”
Kelsey, who informally committed to play at North Dakota last September because she liked the team and the school, is looking forward to contributing her work ethic and sense of excitement and commitment to her new team.
“I chose an out-of-state school because I think it will help me grow up and it’s good to go away and see how things may be different in another part of the country,” said Kelsey. “I’ve worked hard for several years to get to this point, so even though I’ll miss my friends and loved ones at home, I will look forward to seeing them every once in awhile.”
Stephanie Petre, recruited by numerous college soccer coaches, decided as a junior in November 2011 that New Mexico State University in Las Cruces was the perfect fit for her.
“I loved the campus, the team, the coach and the weather, it’s not too cold,” said Stephanie. “Besides I didn’t want to go too far away but I wanted something different, so I think this was a good choice for me.”
Stephanie set her sites on playing college soccer a long time ago and has pursued that dream by competing at the highest level on her high school teams and while playing with her club team, Elite Clubs National League. ECNL has not only exposed Stephanie to a high level of competition against out-of-state teams; it has prepared her for being away from home due to all the traveling that’s required.
Stephanie, who is still undecided on a major, plans to bring her speed, touch, confidence and love of the game to her Aggies team this fall.
“Stephanie, truly a unique player and person, marches to the beat of her own drum,” said Smith. “She led our team in goals and assists this season.”
Emily Matthews chose to follow her family history and devotion to country when she decided in December to commit to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn.
“I chose this program because I have family in the Coast Guard,” said Emily. “My parents raised me to follow a strict honor code similar to the Coast Guard’s core values of honor, respect and devotion to duty which I will embrace.”
Emily, who plans on majoring in marine engineering, says she really likes the school and is looking forward to a change in the weather.
Emily will bring height and speed to help her new Bears team win balls in the air when she joins the team next fall.
“Emily is a tremendous athlete who was remarkably consistent all year for us,” said Smith. “She is a really good kid with a huge heart who played all out for her team all the time.”
Zoe Martinez, who has gained valuable experience playing in college summer soccer camps all over the country, has been looking for the perfect place for years and finally found it at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
“One of my coaches years ago told me to focus on things such as in-state versus out-of-state, big schools versus small schools, cold weather versus warm weather, first and foremost,” said Zoe. “The most important thing, he told me, was to find a place that you love and then look for the soccer opportunities out of the thousands of soccer programs across the country. I think I found the place, the school, the coaches and the soccer program that is a good fit for me at UCCS.”
Zoe, who feels she has somewhat of an idea of the next level of play due to her opportunities to train and play with college players at different summer camps, is ready to bring her skills and training to the Mountain Lions team this fall.
“I think my ability to ‘see the game’ as it is developing and make things happen on the field will be valuable to my college team,” said Zoe. “I’m also very competitive and have a lot of energy.”
Zoe, who may end up majoring in psychology or sociology because she is interested in understanding how the mind works, is looking forward to the full college experience and living on her own.
“Zoe is a creative player with tremendous ability on the ball, but who is also very committed to defending and doing whatever is necessary to win,” said Smith. “She’s also one of those players who could really make me laugh.”
Olivia Montoya, who was recruited by several schools, had education as her priority when she chose Benedictine University in Lisle, Ill., a suburb or Chicago.
“I committed to Benedictine University in November because of its proximity to a metropolitan city, its academic distinction, and finally the soccer coach and program,” said Olivia. “Although education will always be my focus, I consider myself lucky to be able to play a sport I love while going to college.”
Olivia, who is also ready to experience something new and different from Arizona, will get a chance to not only have that experience at Benedictine but also contribute her hard work and soccer skills to the Eagles team.
“Olivia was the quiet leader on our team,” said Smith. “She is one of the most underappreciated players in the history of Corona’s girls soccer program.”
Kate Halligan, an all-around athlete at Corona, who not only competed at the varsity level in soccer all four years but ran on Corona’s varsity cross country and track teams for three years, has signed a letter of intent to play soccer at Pfeiffer University at Charlotte, N.C.
“I fell in love with the campus and the people who attend school at Pfeiffer when I visited the school,” said Kate. “Even though North Carolina is on the other side of the country, I’ve always wanted to go out of state to play soccer. I’ve attended soccer camps for weeks at a time all over the country, so I think I’m prepared to leave home to attain the goal I’ve had since I was really young of playing college soccer.”
Kate will most likely become one of the Falcon’s goalkeepers when she attends Pfeiffer.
“Kate is a complete team player,” said Smith. “She played on the field for us even though her natural and collegiate position will be in the goal.”
Kate, besides fulfilling her goal of playing soccer in college, has her sites set on a career in the health field.
“I knew I wanted to go into the health field because both of my parents are,” said Kate. “I plan on going into nursing at Pfeiffer because I really want to do something that will give back to the community and be a benefit to others, not just me,” she said.
Taylour Rohme, who was expected to sign a National Letter to play soccer at North Park University in Chicago, declined to so, at least for now, because she received an academic scholarship. “Taylour is a very talented goalkeeper,” said Smith. “She is also a very fun person who treats her whole team with respect.”
Taylour, from a long-time traditional volleyball family at Corona, actually played on Corona’s varsity volleyball team two years but chose to play soccer in college.
Aaron Simons signed a national letter of intent to play football at Colorado Mesa University located in Grand Junction.
“Even though I was recruited by plenty of universities, I chose Colorado Mesa because of the solid coaching staff and the possibility of early playing time,” said Simons. “I think I will be able to bring versatility, solid play, leadership and some comedic relief to the team.”
Simons, at 6-foot-4 and 270 pounds, played offensive lineman on the football team and also competed for the track and field team at Corona in the shot put and discus throw. He also plans on competing in track and field while at CMU.
Maceo Brown, Corona’s 6-foot-1 wide receiver and defensive back, has committed to play football at the University of Mary in Bismarck, N.D.
Brown, playing on both sides of the ball, made significant contributions to Corona’s football program. Last season he averaged over 20 yards a game receiving the football and almost 10 yards a game rushing. While playing defense, he averaged five tackles a game plus he is credited with one interception.
Brown also played on special teams, punting the ball 22 times and then returning punts and kickoffs a total of seven times. He scored 18 points his senior season.
Sam Radford, Corona’s 6-foot-2 offensive and defensive lineman, will be playing football at Scottsdale Community College next fall.
“I am happy for both Aaron, Maceo and Sam,” said Corona’s head football coach Tom Joseph. “We at Corona wish them well in their academic and football careers at the next level.
Hallie Swenson, who led Corona’s cross-country team all last season, will be taking her speed and endurange to Point Loma Nazarene in Pt. Loma, Calif., next fall.
Corona girls soccer — The team made it into the Division I state tournament on Jan. 29 as the No. 16 seed against the No. 1 seed Pinnacle. It was a hard 3-0 loss for the Lady Aztecs, especially for the 11 seniors who had seen their team come out of the depths as the No. 15 seed in 2010 to make it to the finals and bring home the runner-up trophy.
The team, which probably improved most in scoring from last season, was led by example and results on and off the field by 11 seniors, according to coach Matt Smith.
In addition to the seven seniors who signed national letters of intent on Wednesday, four other seniors had a big impact on the on and off the field.
“Senior Mikaela Wolf was very coachable and one of those players who gave us coaches everything we asked her to do,” said Coach Matt Smith. “We are also losing to graduation Madeleine Caldwell, who not only always had a smile on her face but was a dynamic and unique player who was tremendously effective in creating space and time for her striker partner.”
“Victoria Haun, who finished second in goals and assists for the team, is one of the hardest working players we have ever had at Corona and is also graduating,” said Smith. “We also lose Alexi Romano, a very skilled player who had to work hard to overcome a tough ankle injury. Alexi played whatever position the coaches asked because she wanted to help the team any way she could.”
It is going to be hard next season to replace such a large senior class but Smith will not lose everyone who had an impact on the team this season.
“For instance, Lexi Bounds was exceptional in goal and Maddie Wolf was probably our most consistent player,” said Smith.
Smith thinks he is going to need at least four or five players to individually step up over the next nine months to help Corona replace the seniors.
“I’m thinking Lexi Bounds, Maddie Wolf, Margaux Loire, Liz Cheney, Jen Carty, Bridget Manning and Paige Monroe will play significant roles on the team next season,” said Smith. “We will be moving into a new section and be facing off against so new teams so it’s tough to predict.”