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Minot nets Mantecas Hatfield
Manteca High senior Breanne Hatfield signed her letter of intent to play soccer for Minot State Thursday evening. Among those present were, from left to right, Principal Frank Gonzales, Athletic Director Dave Smith, varsity coach Justin Coenenberg, father Brian Hatfield, mother Deanna Diggs, grandfather Art Mathis and stepfather Larry Diggs. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO

Breanne Hatfield turned down UC Santa Barbara and UC Davis.

For Minot State University.

And she can’t wait.

That’s because Minot State of North Dakota has given the four-year varsity soccer player a chance to continue playing the sport she loves at the next level.

The Manteca High senior will receive a partial athletic scholarship from the NCAA Division-II member. She was also awarded an academic scholarship, which will cover most of the rest of tution.

Hatfield had already been accepted to UC Santa Barbara and UC Davis, so she was already set to make her first big step toward a career in the medical field. Then Minot State women’s head coach Jason Spain called out of the blue to present her with another option.

“It just came down to me not wanting to stop playing soccer,” said Hatfield, who made the signing official Thursday at the Manteca High library. “I wasn’t the best when I was little, but I just improved so much over the years, so why stop? Just to be able to say that I’m a collegiate athlete is a dream come true.”

She added that a contract between Minot State and The University of North Dakota’s School of Medicine will allow her to pursue a career path as a research doctor.

Hatfield said her former club coach, Araia Berhane, was responsible for tipping off Spain. The clincher for Spain came from an unexpected source — Sierra High coach Manuel Pires.

“He called the coach from Sierra and told him he had never seen me play,” Hatfield said. “I guess (Pires) said, ‘You’d be a fool if you don’t.’”

Spain is familiar with the talent-rich San Joaquin Valley. He prepped at Downey High in Modesto, played collegiately at Modesto JC and Humboldt State and coached at Sutter Union High and Yuba College.

Minot State will enter just its third year as a program after Spain led it to a 10-8 finish in 2011. The Beavers will begin competing in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference next fall.

Hatfield will be in the center of Minot State’s flat back four defense, a position she already plays for Manteca.

Justin Coenenberg saw great promise in Hatfield as a freshman in his first year as Manteca High’s head coach. She began as a forward and was moved to midfield her sophomore year before settling in on the defensive third last season.

“She’s such a versatile player,” Coenenberg said. “She picked things up easily in her transition to each position. She has such a great mathematical mind that she is able to cut off angles using her intelligence along with athletic ability — that’s what makes her a great defender.

“She also has great work ethic and a love for the game. I am really proud of how far she has come the last four years.”

Manteca has enjoyed winning seasons in Hatfield’s time with the program, but 2012 has been the best one so far. The Buffaloes are currently second in the Valley Oak League with a 6-1-2 record and are also 12-4-3 overall. They last made the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs two years ago but were eliminated in the first round.

“I’d love to go back to the playoffs and we have a good chance,” Hatfield said. “I just want to go out on a good note. It’s not my last year playing soccer, but it is my last year at Manteca.”