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San Jose, Calif. --- A trio of versatile midfielders: Kristen Amarikwa, Yaritza Arista and Gabriela Herrera, together with a three-time all-league keeper Ana Calero and multi-year captain defender Carlie James make up the 2016 National Letter-of-Intent signing class for the reigning Mountain West champion San José State women's soccer team. Head coach Lauren Hanson made the announcement.
"We've been thrilled about this group coming in for a long time and we're excited to make this announcement," Hanson said. "We are looking to mold this program with players that want to be here, want to build a program, want to continue winning Mountain West Championships and carry this program even further in the NCAA Tournament, ultimately to the national championship."
Amarikwa is a senior at Frontier High School in Bakersfield, Calif., and amid her fourth season of varsity soccer. Amarikwa was the BVarsity Girls Soccer Player of the Year in 2015. She registered 11 goals and 11 assists to lead the Southwest Yosemite League champion Titans in scoring with 33 points. From the midfield position, Amarikwa has registered over 120 career points for her team comprised of 41 goals and 39 assists. But she isn't only an offensive threat, her holding abilities stifled Frontier High's competition to the tune of just four goals in 10 league matches. Amarikwa is an experienced winner, with a 55-15-6 record heading into senior year. As a sophomore in 2014, Amarikwa and Frontier High were the Division II section champion. Kristen's brother Quincy is a forward for the San Jose Quakes, now in his sixth year of Major League Soccer action.
In 2015, Arista was the points leader for #10-nationlly ranked Modesto Junior College. Arista was third overall in the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) with 60 points at the end of the 2015 season. She scored 21 goals and doled out 18 assists. She led Modesto Junior College all the way to the California State Final Four, where it would wind up third in the state, and 10th-ranked nationally by the final National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) poll. Arista was selected an all-Northern California Region midfielder. Arista is a graduate of Livingston (Calif.) High School, where she scored 22 goals and had nine assists as a senior.
Herrera is a senior center midfielder at Davis (Calif.) High School where she was an All-Delta League selection in 2015. Herrera anchored a back line, which allowed just nine goals all season long, and the squad won the Delta League outright with a 12-1-1 record. Herrera plays her club soccer with the Davis Legacy Soccer Club of the National Premier League (NPL). Herrera is a goal-scoring threat as well, and helped Davis Legacy become one of the highest scoring teams in all of the NPL last year with fifty-three goals. Herrera is one of the league's top-30 players which were selected to train for this year's North vs. South match coming up in May.
Calero is a three-time Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League goalkeeper of the year for Aptos High School. The Watsonville, Calif., native allowed multiple goals to just one league opponent during her freshman year, the first of three straight award-winning seasons. Calero's stellar play between the posts helped Aptos High to a 16-1-3 final record in 2015. Despite 19 saves by Calero, the year ended in the Central Coast Section (CCS) Division II semifinals with a 2-1 overtime loss to Archbishop Mitty. Calero ended the year with 17 shutouts, and was selected First-Team All-CCS. She hopes to major in criminal justice at San José State.
James is in her senior year and fourth season of varsity soccer at Calabasas High School. James, an outside defender and midfielder, was among the Los Angeles Daily News' "players to watch," heading into the 2015 season. She is a team captain following her junior year when she was an all-Marmonte League Second-Team choice. James is also a middle-distance track star for Calabasas High. James plays her club soccer with the Eagles Soccer Club of the Elite Clubs National League, where she is also the team's captain.
"All of these players are very gifted," said Hanson. "They all fall in suit with our possession-oriented style of play. Any time you can recruit a player who is the captain on their team, that says something. And all of these players are captains of their teams."