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Sierras super striker signs with San Francisco State
Four-year varsity soccer standout Nicole Vanni, flanked by Sierra head coach Manuel Pires, signs her letter of intent to play for San Francisco State Tuesday in the school’s gymnasium foyer. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO/The Bulletin


2009: 25 goals, seven assists (57 points)

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2008: 27 goals, 13 assists (67 points)

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2007: 20 goals, 11 assists (51 points)

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2006: seven goals, three assists (17 points)

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Totals: 79 goals, 34 assists (192 points)

Sierra High senior Nicole Vanni was busy scoring and achieving goals Tuesday.

Vanni capped a memorable day by scoring four goals in the Timberwolves’ 7-0 Valley Oak League season opener against rival Manteca.

Just hours before that, she signed a letter of intent to play for San Francisco State on a partial scholarship in Sierra High’s gymnasium foyer.

Now that Vanni has her scholarship, she wants titles.

Sierra’s longtime dominance (nine championships in 11 years) of the VOL hit a snag, with Sonora claiming the last three titles — the first of which was shared with the Timberwolves during Vanni’s freshman year.

 “It’s a huge relief,” she said of the signing. “It is such a long process, especially when it’s something that you dream about since you start playing soccer. Now that I have that out of the way I can just concentrate on school, and hopefully, winning VOL and section (titles).”

San Francisco State came in contact with Vanni in December, and it was love at first sight when she visited the campus.

The Gators, led by 28-year head coach Jack Hyde, are coming off a 12-7-3 season in which they tied the program record for most single-season wins. Their season ended with a 2-1 loss to CSU Dominguez Hills in the first round of the NCAA Division II Women’s Soccer Championships.

Vanni said Pacific, Fresno State and CSU Stanislaus also showed some interest.

“I was just looking for a school that fits me soccer-wise and academically,” said Vanni, who plans on studying engineering. “They cover all the aspects, and knowing they’re coming off a good season is a good thing, too.”

Barring injury, Vanni, the Bulletin’s 2008 All-Area Most Valuable Player, will shatter her personal-best, goal-scoring mark of 27 with already 25 in just 13 games this season. Kaitlyn Quaresma owns Sierra’s single-season record with 40 set in 2004.

With 79 total goals, Vanni would have to maintain her current pace to catch career record-holder Cherie Early (101). Sisters Marty (93) and Ginny Teunissen (81) are No. 2 and 3 all-time, respectively.

Sierra coach Manuel Pires, whose team is off to an impressive 12-0-1 start this season, said he knew four years ago that Vanni could be among the greats who have played for his program.

“When she came in as a freshman I knew that we had a very smart and talented soccer player,” he said. “She showed right away that she had the ambition to play at the next level.

“She’s one of those players who can play any position on the field, and she leads by example with the way she trains and plays for her team. I’m definitely glad she’s on our team, because she’s tough to mark.”

Ceres will try its best Thursday when it hosts Sierra at 6:30 p.m.