By Ray Hamill — College of the Redwoods soccer added two local recruits on Wednesday afternoon, as both the men’s and women’s teams look to bolster their ranks for the fall.
Fortuna’s Makayla McKnight and Hoopa Valley’s Richard Carpenter each signed a letter of intent to play soccer at the school in 2019.
With no high school team at Hoopa, Carpenter lined out for McKinleyville High instead, and was recruited by CR men’s head coach Kyle Van Dyke on the recommendation of women’s head coach Julio Ayala, who saw him play at a local soccer academy.
“I went to watch him in a game against Eureka, and he was playing on the wing and continually creating chances, over and over,” Van Dyke said. “And I liked what I saw.”
Carpenter joins a Corsairs team that struggled to an 0-14-3 record last season, but with several players returning, and some new talent added to the mix, Van Dyke believes they will be better prepared this fall.
“(Recruiting) is going good,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of local interest, which is exciting.”
Carpenter, who intends to go on to play at a four-year school, says he choose CR in part for the family atmosphere within the program.
“They’re really close here,” he said. “There’s a lot of bonding, and I feel a team works best if they have a connection.”
The former Mack player, who has been playing the game since he was four years old, intends to pursue a degree in the chemistry field.
McKnight, meanwhile, joins a CR women’s program that was 6-9-1 in 2018.
The Fortuna senior will bring plenty of versatility to the roster, and decided to join the local program in part because of her own family.
“My dad played football here, and I wanted to continue that,” she said. “And some of my teammates from last year are here.”
McKnight joins a long line of recent Fortuna players to play soccer at CR, men and women, including Juliana Ortega-Miranda, a dual athlete who is also enjoying a big season in softball this spring, as well as Tia Graham and Giselle Carrillo-Ceja.
McKnight can play goalie, defense or forward.
“She has shown a lot of enthusiasm,” Ayala said. “She seems eager and ready to play, and the biggest thing is having a passion for the sport, which will take you a long way.”
McKnight says she is undecided on what she will major in.
“For now, I’m just going to do my general education and focus on soccer,” she said.