The Spanish Springs girls soccer program has become one of the best in Northern Nevada. It now sends players to the collegiate level with regularity.
On Wednesday, it sent two more. At a signing ceremony in front of friends and family, Makayla Long and Regan Henry signed national letters of intent to continue their careers.
Long, who committed to Sierra Nevada College in Incline Village, and Henry, who committed to Bellevue Community College just outside Seattle, helped lead the Cougars to a 15-4-2 overall record, a High Desert League title and berth in the regional semifinals this fall. The Cougars were a loss in penalty kicks to Bishop Manogue (the eventual DI North champ) from a spot in the regional title game and a spot in the state tournament.
Long is one of the best girls soccer players to go through Spanish Springs. Her 62 career goals are a program record “by at least 20” and she was named the league’s Offensive Player the Year in the fall.
She said she considered a few other schools but chose Sierra Nevada after meeting coach Chris DeLong at a player showcase in Las Vegas last March.
“(DeLong) reached out to me and I went out and visited campus and it just seemed like the best fit for me,” Long said. “I was pretty set on going there. I took a tour on the campus and I just fell in love.”
Sierra Nevada, an NAIA program, completed its first season last fall and will be eligible for the postseason for the first time this coming fall.
It’s uncommon for college coaches to attend signing ceremonies, but DeLong was in attendance on Wednesday.
“To come down here, it’s a no-brainer,” DeLong said. “Makayla has done great and she invited me and of course I’m going to be here.
“There have been so many girls here (in Reno) that are just diamonds … Also, just being a brand new program is exciting for a lot of these girls because there is a lot of opportunity.”
The Eagles went 4-11 in their first season, their probation season, but won three of their final four. Long said she plans to study business.
Henry did not go the way of her now former teammate and chose to get away from home, committing to a two-year school in the Pacific Northwest.
Henry was a second-team midfielder last fall for the Cougs and has family in the Seattle area. She visits annually and said the regular trips led to her decision.
“I love Washington. I always have,” she said.
Like many prep soccer player in the Reno area, she considered other schools in the Northwest Athletic Conference (a 27-team, four-league community college conference) with teams in Washington and Oregon.
Peninsula, one of the conference powers, has a strong recruiting hold in Northern Nevada but Henry wasn’t interested.
“Every Reno girls goes to Peninsula so I was like ‘I don’t want to go there,'” Henry said. “And then I met with the (Bellevue) coach and I fell in love.”
Henry plans to study public relations management.
The Bulldogs went 13-2-2 last fall.