High school girls soccer reigns on national signing day


Sonoma County has shown once again it’s a hotbed for girls soccer as 15 high school seniors accepted college scholarships Wednesday on the NCAA’s national signing day for 2012-13.

Also agreeing to binding letters of intent were three Empire football players and a male soccer athlete. The commitment period for football players continues through April 1 while athletes from soccer, track and field, cross country, men’s water polo and field hockey can accept scholarships until Aug.1. Signing periods for other sports vary.

All 19 players competed this past season in either the North Bay or Sonoma County leagues. Nine of the female soccer players came from the NBL.

As for school totals, Cardinal Newman, Casa Grande and Montgomery each had three signees. Maria Carrillo, Petaluma and Sonoma Valley had two apiece, and Santa Rosa, Ukiah and Windsor were represented by one athlete.

The road to Wednesday’s signing started not long after many students began to walk.

For example, UCLA’s Belden Long (Cardinal Newman) began kicking a soccer ball when she was 3, and by 4 she and her father had a routine.

“We had a picket fence in the front yard,” her father Brian recalled. “I’d stand in front of the fence and Belden would try to kick the ball past me. We played that game hour-after-hour.”

For UC Santa Barbara’s Kelly Schnur and her parents, Wednesday was an emotional day.

“I went to Montgomery at 7:50 in the morning to watch the signing and I was thinking back about how we got to this day,” her mother Sandy said. “It was a big commitment of time and money for my husband (Darrell) and I. But Kelly has such a passion for the game, that we gladly made the sacrifices.

“The gratifying thing is that even if Kelly hadn’t gotten a scholarship, she would’ve gone to UCSB. That was always the school she liked best, and to be able to play soccer there is icing on the cake.”

Schnur carries a 4.25 grade-point average and is president of her class. A midfielder, she was a four-year starter for coach Pat McDonald and finished her high school career with 26 goals and 24 assists.

She caught the eye of Gauchos coach Paul Stumpf when she took part in a camp on the UCSB campus.

“On the final day of camp, he gave everyone a letter that rated your skills,” Schnur said. “At the bottom of the page, he wrote that he was really interested in my schedule. I was hooked on Santa Barbara, so I immediately responded with the list of tournaments my United club team was going to play.

“He came to tournaments in San Diego and Las Vegas. When he said he was going to offer me a scholarship, I was ecstatic.”

Alyssa Anderson and Michelle Cella, her teammates at Montgomery, will attend Sacramento State.

Sonoma Valley’s Annie Studdert will attend Clemson.

James Moberg (Maria Carrillo) was the lone male soccer player to sign. He’s going to the University of Washington.

“Two things Washington will be getting,” Mike Masten, Moberg’s high school coach, said. “A player dedicated to the game and an athlete that’s a fantastic student and kid.

“In my opinion, what makes him a good soccer player is that he sees the field so well. He thinks ahead of the game.”

All three football players come from the SCL. Brady Stibi played for undefeated Windsor; Steven Bentley and Thomas Kupelian competed for Casa Grande.

Stibi is going to UC Davis. Bentley and Kupelian will still be teammates next year, at Humboldt State.

The two were captains at Casa on the freshman, junior varsity and varsity teams.

“We took our official visits on the same weekend,” Kupelian said. “At first, I wasn’t sure that was the school I wanted to attend.

“When the coaches said they were graduating a lot of seniors and I’d get playing time as a freshman, that’s when I decided to sign. They want me as an offensive guard.”

Humboldt State, a Division II school, had a 9-1 record last season.

Sonoma Valley cross country runner Alex Conner, who won this year’s SCL meet, will run at Yale, which does not have athletic scholarships. He’ll attend on an academic scholarship.

Eight of the signees play club soccer for Santa Rosa United. Certified college planning specialist Josh Sterling helped in showcasing their talents.

“Only 1 percent of high school athletes get that magical full-ride scholarship,” the Windsor resident said. “The colleges have a lot of choices, so there’s a lot of individual marketing involved.

“Kids can’t wait for coaches to show up on their doorstep, they have to get the coaches to notice them.

“I put on workshops for the athlete and their parents. Everyone involved needs help navigating the process. It starts with focusing on a school, introducing yourself and then showing the coaches that you could help their program. It’s very competitive.

"For Sonoma County, this turned out to be a very good recruiting class.”


Following is a list of Empire high school athletes who on Wednesday signed letters of intent to accept scholarships to play at four-year universities.

Several other Empire athletes have committed to attend colleges without athletic scholarships and will try to play as walk-ons. Others previously committed to schools, are deciding among several offers or are working to meet eligibility requirements. As these athletes commit to schools and play at the collegiate level, we will have more on PD Preps and in The Press Democrat.

Steven Bentley, defensive back, Casa Grande, Humboldt State
Thomas Kupelian, offensive tackle, Casa Grande, Humboldt State
Brady Stibi, Windsor, linebacker, four-year scholarship from UC Davis

Girls soccer
Alyssa Anderson, Montgomery, Sacramento State
Leslie Bustos, Maria Carrillo, Sonoma State
Ashley Cella, Montgomery, Sacramento State
Avery Dutton, Cardinal Newman, Southern Oregon
Michelle Garrone, Petaluma, Cal State Monterey Bay
Lyndsey Gehring, Petaluma, UC Riverside
Phoebe Hendry, Ukiah, Cal State Monterey Bay
Noelle LaPrevotte, Casa Grande, University of Portland
Belden Long, CardinalNewman, UCLA
Theresa Mateo, Cardinal Newman, Belmont Abbey (North Carolina)
Kelly Schnur, Montgomery, UC Santa Barbara
Annie Studdert, Sonoma Valley, Clemson
Sara Tosti, Maria Carrillo, Arizona State
Allyson Ward, Santa Rosa High, Southern Oregon
Emily Wilbur, Sonoma Valley, University of Mississippi

Boys soccer
James Moberg, Maria Carrillo, Washington

Cross country
Alex Conner, Sonoma Valley, will run at Yale, which does not have athletic scholarships. He’ll have an academic scholarship.


Several soccer players at SRJC will transfer to play at four-year universities.

Women’s soccer
Cara and Lauren Curtain, Maria Carrillo graduates, Sonoma State
Tara Funk, Petaluma, Sonoma State
Cami James, Casa Grande, Southwest Baptist

Men’s soccer
Christian Reyes, Santa Rosa High, Cal State Los Angeles