Wood's Garcia signs to play soccer with California of Pennsylvania

5fbf0d4e3a110.imageChris Garcia is about to get a lot more familiar with California University of Pennsylvania.

The James Wood senior soccer player signed a National Letter of Intent during a ceremony in the school’s auditorium on Monday to compete for the NCAA Division II school. Garcia will receive both partial athletic and academic scholarships.

Garcia will be an attacking midfielder for the Vulcans. A forward for the Colonels, Garcia led the area in points as a sophomore (19 goals, 11 assists) en route to earning Second Team Region 4C and First Team Class 4 Northwestern District honors, and he recorded eight goals and six assists to earn Second Team all-district honors as a freshman.

Colonels boys’ soccer coach Brian Sullivan has been taking his players to California’s team camp over the summer for years, which gave the four-year varsity player Garcia a chance to get a feel for his future school early.

In a phone interview, Garcia said he began to give California consideration as a future home during his junior year. The campus visit that he took in August started the process of making it a reality.

The Vulcans are led by eighth-year head coach Emedin Sabic, who has a career record of 42-63-12. California went 5-7-3 overall and 3-4-3 in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference in 2019. The Vulcans did not play this fall due to COVID-19.

“Talking to [Sabic], I felt very identified with him, with the way we want to play and what we want as a team,” Garcia said. “He told me about the way he coaches, the way he treats his players, all the things that players are required to do. For example, having over a 3.0 GPA and being good student-athletes overall. He has very high expectations for his players.”

Garcia, who will likely study business, said he likes that California is a medium-sized (6,885 students in 2020-21) institution.

“You can get to know your teachers, and they can get to know you,” Garcia said. “You’re going to count as one of the students at Cal U.

“Everything about the campus is pretty nice. It’s not too far from Pittsburgh, which is pretty cool I think.”

For Garcia, it’s definitely cool that he’ll be competing in college.

“It was a dream for me,” he said. “I came from Honduras five years ago and didn’t know I’d play in college. As soon as I came [to the United States], I saw how big of a deal it is.

“I’ve been playing since I was 5, 6 years old, and I told myself I had to work hard for it. Now that it’s happening, I’m super excited, super happy, and I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to do it. Just knowing I’m going to play in college is fueling my gas tank again. I’ve got more to give as a soccer player.”

VHSL updates guidelines for return to sports

Soccer teams can now form walls to defend against direct and indirect kicks in the updated guidelines for return to participation that was released by the Virginia High School League on Tuesday.

The initial guidelines released on Oct. 30 stated that all players must be three feet away from on free kicks. The new guidelines state that only players on opposing teams must be three feet away from each other.

For boys’ lacrosse, quarters will now last 12 minutes instead of 10, and face-offs and body contact are allowed. Draws will be allowed in girls’ lacrosse.

— Compiled by Robert Niedzwiecki with AP reports

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