Three soccer players from local high schools signed letters of intent to transfer from MCC-Blue River to four-year universities recently.
Last week, Blue Springs South graduate Brooke Howe signed to play at Missouri Western. On Monday, Lee’s Summit North graduates Sara Simpson (Missouri Valley College) and Nick Cooper (William Jewell College) also committed to four-year programs.
Other Trailblazer players to sign were Smithville grad Cali Fournier (Missouri Valley) and Harrisonville graduates Zion Hartzler (Columbia College) and Shon Hartzler (Columbia College).
Howe, who was unable to attend Monday's ceremony, tallied 11 points in her sophomore season and was a first-team All-Region XVI team selection while helping lead the Trailblazers to a 9-7-2 mark and a region runner-up finish. Howe had gone to Missouri State University to concentrate on just getting her degree for a year before she decided she wanted to play soccer again and transferred to Blue River.
“She played with me at the club level,” Blue River assistant coach Brad Childers said. “I didn’t want to pressure her or anything, but sure enough I got a phone call from her and said, ‘Coach, I am ready to come back.’ Fortunately we had a spot for her.
“She is a tremendous player. She was at the right of the middle of the pitch and the heart of our team. She scored several goals and had several assists but that wasn’t her primary role. She was on the distribution side.”
Simpson was another big contributor to the program as she helped the team earn seven shutouts on defense. She said she chose Missouri Valley because it would give her a good opportunity to play.
“I am excited to see what happens,” Simpson said. “I feel like I have improved (since high school). I got better with my first touch on the ball and my shooting.”
Added head coach David Owens: “I never took Sara out of the game in two years. Then one time I did in a game against Neosho and we got scored on. She doesn’t make mistakes when she plays in the back.”
Cooper, who was a backup goalie with North, got a few chances to start with Blue River. He started in eight games and had a 1.99 goals against average, which was best on the team. He also tallied 45 saves and had a 2-6 record for the 6-12-1 Trailblazers, who made it to the region quarterfinals before falling.
“At Jewell they are recruiting him to be the backup goalkeeper,” Owens said. “But their starting goalkeeper better watch out because he’s not going there to be a backup.”
Added Cooper: “It was rough my freshman year but I improved a lot my sophomore year. We had a really good goalkeeper coach, so that helped me out a lot.”