Pitman High senior midfielder/defender Karina Maldonado signed last week her national letter of intent to play women’s soccer at Huntington University, a NAIA school in Indiana.
Maldonado, considered a top prospect out of Northern California, is one of two captains on the Pitman girls soccer team that is having one of the school’s best seasons. The Pride — who are 19-4-1 overall and captured the Central California Conference title after going 12-1-1 — are now preparing for next week’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division I Tournament.
Their first playoff game is Thursday at 3:30 p.m. at Turlock Sports Complex after landing a first-round bye.
Maldonado has played a crucial role in the Pride’s success this season, and she hopes to take the experience to the college level. She also becomes the second known player on the Pitman roster to sign with a college team, as teammate and forward Hannah Verschelden signed last month to play for Notre Dame de Namur University, a Division II program in Belmont.
“I am excited to be a college soccer player,” said Maldonado, who plans to study biology or pre-med, in a statement. “Even though I am a bit nervous to live out of state without my parents, I’m really excited to experience life on my own. I chose Huntington because it was the best fit for me. It is a small campus and since I’m going out of state, I didn’t want a big school. I like how my professors will actually know my name and I won’t just be another paper to grade.”
Off the field, she holds down a 3.6 GPA. She is also a three-time member of the Principal’s Honor Roll and received the Academic Achievement Award in 2010.
Her athletic success is just as impressive, thanks to years of playing in the youth soccer scene. Besides playing for the Pride, her biggest accomplishment came in 2007, when she was a starter for the Cal Cougars team that made it to the U.S. Club Soccer National Tournament in North Carolina. That same year, Maldonado was also a key contributor after her team traveled to Florida to compete in the Super-Y National Tournament.
Her college coach, Huntington University’s Ryan Burgher, noticed her potential.
“When Karina came to visit, she fit in great with the team,” Burgher noted in a statement. “Karina has a personality that can get along with anyone. She is just a really fun person to be around. She is a very mature girl and will develop into a great leader for her teammates at Huntington.
“On the field, we just picked up another great player. She has been playing at a very high level and I know she is going to bring that experience and standard to HU. We are expecting her to impact the center of the field for us right away.”