Four students from Turlock High and one student from Hilmar High signed their letters of intent on Wednesday, securing themselves a spot on collegiate rosters once their high school careers are complete.
Bulldogs Natalie Larson and Desmond Madrigal committed to play for California State University, Stanislaus while classmates Caitlyn Duval and Jorge Lara signed with Chico State and UC Irvine, respectively. Yellowjacket Kinsey Pettigrew also signed with the CSUS Warriors where she will join Larson on the pitch in the freshman ranks.
A four-year varsity starter, Larson has been in contact with the Warriors since her sophomore year, making Wednesday’s signing a formality years in the making.
“I feel really blessed to just have the opportunity to play with the girls on the team and to be coached by Gabe. I’m really looking forward to it,” Larson said.
Larson has been a major player in Turlock’s trio of Central California Conference championships the last three years and has also proved to be productive with travel teams like Turlock FC and Ajax United Elite.
The senior Bulldogs will eventually join a Warriors team coming off their best seasons in school history.
“I’ll be playing somewhere in the defense, but I don’t really know if I’ll have a starting position. I really want to be able to get on the travel team, so that’s my first step,” Larson said. “I just really want to get the experience and get the camaraderie of the whole soccer experience in college.”
The Turlock transfer from Central Catholic High only had half of a season to compete in her soccer uniform last year, but her time as a Raider and as a travel player for Ajax United Elite and the Turlock Tornadoes was more than enough to draw interest from schools like the University of Pacific and the University of Southern California.
In the end, Duval chose to play in Chico, however, where she will protect the net as a Wildcat.
“I went over there over the summer with my basketball team and I really liked the campus. I met the coaches and they were really nice, they have a really good soccer program over there, so that was the main factor,” Duval said. “They gave me a starting offer at the goalie position.”
Duval looks to end her high school career with a bang with the aim of earning Turlock its fourth consecutive CCC title in her first full season as the Bulldog keeper. After that, Duval intends to hit the campus of Chico fully prepared. Once she gets to Chico, the Turlock senior will join a team that finished 12-5-2 overall last season.
“I’m going to be training a lot over the summer just to make sure I am at that level, so that when I walk in I’m not looking like a high school athlete,” Duval said. “I’m looking forward to starting and to getting along with the team really well and hopefully making it to playoffs,”
As a three-year varsity starter, Madrigal managed to help Turlock win a 2012 CCC championship while also playing for the San Jose Earthquakes U18 Academy team.
Though he was coveted for his soccer skills by San Jose State, Madrigal opted to play for the Warriors for both location and personal reasons.
“We decided as a family that it was better for us financially and it would be easy for me to adapt to the college setting at home,” Madrigal said. “But another big part of it is that I wanted to play a year with my older brother who’s going to be a senior there.”
Madrigal will join his older brother Christian on a Warriors team that missed out on the California Collegiate Athletic Association championship by only one game. It’s unclear as to how much Madrigal is expected to contribute as a freshman, but just being able to share a spot on the same roster as his brother seems to be enough for the senior Bulldog.
“We’ve never played together before, so that’s one thing I wanted to do to share with him. That’s a memory no one will ever be able to take from us,” Madrigal said.
Like his teammate Madrigal, Lara was also a three-year varsity starter for Turlock and a member of the San Jose Earthquakes U18 Academy team. Unlike his teammate, however, Lara has opted to play away from home with his commitment to play for UC Irvine.
Refusing offers and interest from schools like UC Riverside, San Jose State and the University of New Mexico, Lara will join a UC Irvine team coming off its most successful pair of seasons in school history.
“It’s a D1 school and I have a lot of family down there,” Lara said. “It’s just a really good soccer program. They’re top-20 team in the nation and it keeps going every year. I’m really excited about it.”
Lara’s signing on Wednesday was a mere formality, with his verbal commitment to the Anteaters coming last summer. The senior Bulldog is expected to play center back and hoped to hit the pitch immediately.
“I think I’m going to play a lot my freshman year since I was one of the beginning recruits there. But we’ll see what happens, it’s not up to me,” Lara said.
Like her soon-to-be Warriors teammate Larson, Pettigrew is a four-year varsity starter. Pettigrew helped her Yellowjackets win Trans Valley League championships in 2011 and 2012, which is when she began to draw interest from the Warriors.
“My sophomore year coach Gabe Bolton texted me and told me he was very interested and really wanted me to play for them,” Pettigrew said. “A couple of schools down South were interested in me, but Stanislaus was closer to home and they have a really good program there with soccer and academics, and compared to other schools was also a bit cheaper.”
Pettigrew is looking forward to enjoying the ongoing success of the Warriors’ Women’s soccer program and playing close to home.
“I really wanted to have my parents come and watch me play since they have been very supportive throughout my career,” Pettigrew said. “They have always supported me in playing travel ball which I have been doing for about seven years now and before that they are always at every game I play in in all sports.”