Kassandra Ceja's commitment to the San Jose Earthquakes Academy prevented her from playing for Lathrop High as a senior, but it did open up a path to Division I soccer.
The prolific goal scorer signed with Fresno State on Wednesday in front of friends, family, teachers and school administrators at the LHS career center.
“I just wanted to get to college, hopefully D-I,” Ceja said. “I'm so grateful to have the opportunity, because I know a lot of talented athletes don't get that opportunity. I am also thankful for my support system, because without them I would be nothing.”
Ceja said the coaching staff with the Quakes Academy was instrumental in getting her connected with Fresno State and other potential suitors. She has scored 12 goals in eight games played for the under-17 team and is on the under-18/19 roster with Ripon senior Tianna Sidtikun, who signed with Arizona in November.
Ceja was recruited as a forward by Fresno State of the Mountain West Conference. The Bulldogs finished 9-7-4 this past fall and lost in the conference semifinals to a San Diego State, 3-2.
She'll leave Lathrop as its all-time leading scorer with 117 goals despite missing her senior season. Last year, she accumulated a whopping 61 goals, which was tied for most in the state, according to MaxPreps.
Ceja was named Manteca Bulletin All-Area Co-MVP with good friend and former Sierra standout Jadyn Shinn (currently at Cal) after leading the Spartans to their first-ever Sac-Joaquin Section postseason appearance. She was also named All-Western Athletic Conference MVP after earning the same honor in the loaded Valley Oak League as a freshman two years prior.
Coach Jose Montes often lauded her leadership last season, and Ceja is proud to have left her mark with the school.
“High school soccer was something else,” Ceja said. “It taught me self control and discipline, and it was a lot of work having to practice every day. Even though some people say high school soccer doesn't help it did help and I'm glad I got play here.”