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Vandebilt 's Pena signs soccer scholarship with Mobile

Vandebilt Catholic senior Makelle Pena signed a soccer scholarship with Mobile on Friday. (Photo by Kelly McElroy/Staff)

Just talking about having four more seasons to play competitive soccer was enough for Vandebilt Catholic senior Makelle Pena to light up on Friday afternoon.

Surrounded by family, friends, classmates, teammates and school faculty at Vandebilt's Brother's Hall, Pena signed a National Letter-of-Intent to play soccer at the University of Mobile in Alabama.

"It's like the greatest thing. You always dream about playing at the next level, and I am glad I got the opportunity," Pena said. "Some people aren't going to be able to play past high school, but I have four more seasons. I get to bring my play to another level"

NAIA Mobile made it to the Round of 8 National Championship last season, and Lady Terriers coach Phillip Amedee said Pena should be able to make a positive impact in her role with the Lady Rams.

"Makelle is definitely going to be successful at the next level just like she has been during her career here at Vandebilt," Amedee said. "Her work ethic defines her. She works very hard at practice every day, and never takes a day off. She has been a great leader as a senior. I am sure she will step in and contribute right away. It is an honor to have one of our players move on. She is a role model for what you can accomplish if you commit yourself to something."

Pena, who was an all-state player as a junior last season and is expected to be one again this season, said she had other interest from Belmont Abbey in North Carolina and Louisiana-Lafayette, but that she felt most at home when she visited Mobile.

Pena, who will study physical therapy at Mobile, first caught the eye of Mobile coaches when she played at club tournament in Texas with her club team, the Chicago Fire Juniors, based in New Orleans last summer.

"They said they really liked me because I can see the field well and understand the game well," Pena said. "They have been recruiting me since this summer."

Amedee said Pena can play effectively at nearly any position on the field.

"She started off as an outside middle, which is someone who serves the ball and gets more assists, but we have used her more up top, and she has developed into a really good scorer, and she is still one of our leading assist players," Amedee said. "She is just an all-around player. She will do whatever you ask of her and pretty much excel at it."

The Lady Terriers were the Division II runners-up the last three seasons, are the No. 1 seed in this year's playoffs, have a bye in the first round and are currently 23-2-1 overall heading into Wednesday's regional-round match against St. Michael. The match is scheduled to start at 6 p.m.