Dallas Soccer DFW

FW Nolan has three sign college scholarships

Published 2/2/2011 11:20:21 PM by staff from dallas

Sara Chandlee, Paige Harris and Alex Rios watched McKenzie Sauerwein sign her letter of intent to play soccer at Missouri with excitement, hoping they could one day be in the same position. A year later, the three Nolan Catholic players are getting their own special day.


Chandlee, Harris and Rios signed their collegiate letters Wednesday morning. Their celebration was put on hold because of snow and ice, but the school will have a reception at Nolan Catholic High School's arena foyer once classes resume as a delayed part of national signing day.

"It will be big," Nolan coach Jay Fitzgerald said. "Our soccer signings are always a big deal. We fix everything up, and it's always really nice. We have a great tradition, and this is a part of it."

Chandlee will play for Iona College in New York, Harris is headed to LSU, and Rios will take the field for Northwestern (La.) State.

"I am so excited that I invited all of my teachers and everyone around to come out," Chandlee said. "Last year, I looked around at Alex and said, 'That's going to be us.' Neither of us had offers at that point, but I was confident."


Watching Nolan's class of 2010 commit inspired this year seniors, who came off the bench for the Vikings during their junior season. Harris backed up Sauerwein at keeper; Chandlee and Rios played at defender. This season, they have played a larger role. Nolan has bounced back after multiple early injuries and an 0-5 start.

"I'm looking forward to seeing these girls at college next year," Fitzgerald said. "They know how to play, and their speed of play is very good. They are very decisive."

Alex Rios, an experienced international player with Mexico's under-17 national team, has shown her versatility as a senior. She played all last season as a defender. This year, she played in almost every place on the field and helped lead the Vikings (8-11-3) to a playoff berth.

"Because I played those international games, coaches could go online and watch the whole games," said Rios, who participated on the U-17 Mexican World Cup qualifying team. "I learned so many things from that. I had to adjust to the different style of play. Playing in front of that many people [in Costa Rica], with the stands full, it was a little overwhelming. It prepared me for playing in front of college crowds."


The Air Force Academy was second on Rios' list, and she was also recruited by Hardin-Simmons and TCU.

"She is so versatile," Fitzgerald said. "She is going to do well in college."


Sara Chandlee wanted to visit Iona because she lived seven miles away from the campus when she was young. Her father graduated from Iona, and when she visited, Chandlee said she knew it was the place for her.


"It is a small school, but it is still Division I," said Chandlee, who also considered Rutgers, Stetson and Dallas Baptist. "I'm a little apprehensive but excited."

While Nolan hasn't recorded as many wins this year -- so far, this season has been Fitzgerald's worst in his 13 years -- Harris has been consistent in the net. She has allowed less than a goal a game in district to give her team a chance late in each game. Texas Woman's, Hardin-Simmons and Troy State were also recruiting her.


"Paige learned a lot from [Sauerwein] and has done so well this year," Fitzgerald said. "She even overcame missing the first five games with an injury."

Harris' decision to play for the Tigers was also influenced by her family history.

"My whole family is from Louisiana, so it just feels like home," Harris said. "I'm excited to start my college career there."

While Nolan's three signees will celebrate their collegiate futures today or Friday morning, the party won't last long. The Vikings will have to refocus on their high school careers quickly. Nolan plays its first playoff game at 4pm Friday, at St. Michael's in Austin.


"We aren't going to lose sight of our goals," Harris said.

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