April 26, 2014

SE Whitfield’s Lopez takes her game to Point University

Andrea Lopez felt at home when the Southeast Whitfield girls soccer player visited Point University earlier this year.

So she decided to leave home and make the jump to collegiate soccer.

Lopez signed a partial athletic scholarship Friday at her high school to join Point’s roster for next fall when the Skyhawks begin their 2014 schedule. She said the scholarship with the West Point college will account for more than half of tuition costs.

“It was one of the most amazing feelings and experiences I’ve ever had,” Lopez said of her signing party celebration. “My friends and family were there to support me and it was a big step.”

The center midfielder has started all four years at Southeast, with current boys coach Kevin Kettenring the girls coach during Lopez’s freshman and sophomore years.

“She is really good with ball control and has a rocket of a shot,” Kettenring said. “It’s all those things you need and she has a good head for the game and a great teammate.”

Lopez was one of the best for the Lady Raiders this season and she received interest from numerous schools. She said Brenau University was another top candidate, but she eventually landed on Point, located in West Point.

She visited in February and said the team’s welcoming atmosphere sealed her decision.

“The players were really friendly and I felt like I fit in automatically,” she said. “The coaches and players were amazing.

“I really liked it. It’s something different. ... I’ll be away from home. It’s a new experience.”

At the same time, Lopez said the future is “scary” because she will be the first from her family to attend a non-local college. Her sister, Maria Lopez, attends Dalton State.

Point competes in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, affiliated with the Appalachian Athletic Conference, and also is a member of the National Christian College Athletic Association. The team finished the 2013 season 5-12-2. The roster included four seniors, two at midfield.

Southeast’s Lady Raiders finished 3-8 this season and, like last year, missed the Region 7 playoffs and Class 4A state playoffs. Still, they had a definite leader in Lopez, a skilled player from her first high school practice.

“She’ll make a great addition to what Point has,” Kettenring said. “She’s not real talkative. She’s kind of quiet but she lets her play do most of the talking.

“She had a great touch and was way ahead of most players coming in as freshmen. She contributed right away for us.”

Lopez also plays for the Northwest Soccer Academy’s Belles, a club soccer team coached by John-Eric Bolger.

“He really encouraged me,” Lopez said. “He told me I could play college soccer and have the ability. Because of him, I really wanted to play.”

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