Recent Richmond Hill grad Cesar Lopez almost thought his soccer career was over when the season ended and he still had not received any college scholarship offers. That changed Friday when he signed a national letter of intent to play at Coker College, a Division II school in Hartsville, S.C.
Lopez said the Coker staff approached him after the Coastal Empire All-Star soccer game in mid-May. The yearly event draws coaches from several colleges.
“There were about four schools that had shown interest but I didn’t have any offers,” Lopez said. “I almost thought it was too late, but the coach talked to me and I went to tour the school. I really liked it because I didn’t want to go to a big school.”
Coker, with about 1,100 students, is consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the “Best Colleges” in the south. Lopez said he plans to study criminology.
“It’s been an honor to have him as part of the program and see him grow into the man and soccer player he is,” said Wildcat Coach Robert Flanders. “Coker is getting a great player.”
Flanders said Lopez, who played on the varsity team for three years, is a versatile athlete who can play defense as well as midfield.
“Anywhere we needed him to play we could put him,” Flanders said. “He distributes the ball well.”
Lopez said he has to be at school in less than two weeks for pre-season training.
Coker, a member of the South Athletic Conference, was 3-10-1 overall last season, 3-8 in the league. The Cobras open the 2016 season Sept. 3 at Belmont Abbey.