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Lathrop soccer teammates sign with NAIA schools
Lathrop boys soccer signings
Lathrop High seniors Javier Galvez (UC Merced), left, and Reyli Villalpando (Jessup University) were recognized for their college signings Wednesday at the LHS career center. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO/The Bulletin

Friends from Lathrop will soon be foes at the collegiate level.

Javier Galvez and Reyli Villalpando were celebrated by friends, family, teammates, coaches and administrators at Lathrop High on Wednesday, as they have signed to continue their soccer careers for National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics schools.

Galvez is committed to California Pacific Conference powerhouse UC Merced, while Villalpando is headed to Rocklin to join William Jessup University of the Golden State Athletic Conference. The two teams routinely meet in non-conference matches.

“It will be weird seeing him on another team, but it’ll be all love,” Galvez said.

The two have been teammates both in high school and club. Galvez plays for the Manteca Rangers Boca Juniors, and Villalpando is with Manteca FC.

They were both instrumental this past winter when Lathrop had its most successful season in program history, finishing 13-9-4, qualifying for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs for the first time and winning its first-ever postseason game.

Galvez made the All-Western Athletic Conference first team as a left fullback. A natural lefty, he hopes to be an immediate contributor for the UC Merced head coach Albert Martins. The Bobcats have won two Cal Pac regular-season titles, two conference tournament titles and made five NAIA National Championship appearances under Martins. They were 8-0-4 in the Cal Pac last fall, 12-3-5 overall.

“(Boca Juniors) Coach Jose Acosta recommended me to play with UC Merced, and (Martins) invited me to come out and train with the team and that’s how he got to know me,” Galvez said. “Hopefully, I can come to the program, contribute to the team and help win another ring for them.”

Galvez plans to major in business, but his dream is to become a professional soccer player.

Villalpando also took followed the recommendation from a coach to help guide his future prospects. Lathrop coach Alfredo Reynaga was the one who encouraged him to look into Jessup University.

“At the beginning of the year, coach mentioned that school to me and that sparked some interest,” Villalpando said. “So, I started to reach out, made plans to meet with the team and we eventually came to an agreement.”

Warriors coach Greg Lazaga is the program’s winningest coach. Villalpando, who is also an All-WAC selection, was recruited as a central midfielder. He’ll study business.

Reynaga called this a “proud moment” for the team, the school and the community.

“As a program, we’re getting a lot better, and these two talents played a big part in that,” Reynaga said. “They are obviously going to be assets for UC Merced and Jessup University, but I think they’re getting something better than that. They’re not just soccer players, they’re two good kids who have a good head on their shoulders. Academically, they’re excellent. The future is bright for them.”