Two members of the Puyallup Vikings girls soccer team signed National Letters of Intent last week to continue their careers at the next level.
Ashley Homer will play soccer for The College of Saint Rose in Albany, N.Y., and Justine Ibarra will take her skills to Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, N.C.
Homer doesn’t have any reservations about playing on the East Coast. She said the College of Saint Rose won a national championship last year.
“They are a great (NCAA) Division II school and have gone to the Final Four the past four years in a row,” she said. “It’s far away, but I’m interested in starting a new life over there.
“I wanted to go to college and play at the highest level of soccer possible,” Homer said. “It is a really good school.”
Ibarra said moving from Kentucky to the Pacific Northwest prior to the start of her sophomore year of high school in 2010 played a pivotal role in her getting noticed by Gardner-Webb, a Division I program.
“Soccer here is insanely competitive in Washington compared to Kentucky,” Ibarra said. “Going from Kentucky to Washington, the level of play is so much higher, and it definitely helped prepare me for college, I’m actually really thankful that I moved here, because if I wouldn’t have moved here, I wouldn’t have the opportunities that I had to play where I did.”
Puyallup has been a powerhouse in the Class 4A South Puget Sound League South Division in the past two seasons, both of which ended with appearances at the state tournament.
Ibarra played her sophomore year at Rogers, and she finished her high-school career at Puyallup.
“Since I was a little girl, I always wanted to be a Division I soccer player,” she said. “It’s crazy that I’m finally there.
Ibarra said Vikings head coach Matt White played a huge part in developing her skills.
“He was the greatest coach I have ever had,” she said. “His advice to us was to always work hard in life, and somehow that will just tie into everything else. He is a great person and a great coach.”
White exuded pride as he watched two of his players reach their dreams in front of family members, teammates and friends.
“It’s one of those things that you just feel like we’re doing the right things as coaches,” he said. “Our team is being successful, and these kids are being successful and moving on (to college soccer). They are both fantastic kids. I’m excited for them.”