Bobcats’ Garcia Armas signs on to Indian Hills

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Marshalltown senior Vanessa Garcia Armas, seated center, signed her National Letter of Intent on Wednesday to continue her soccer career at Indian Hills Community College. Joining Garcia Armas at the signing table were Esmeralda, front left, and Victor Ramos, MHS assistant coach Leigh Hornbuckle, standing at left, Indian Hills assistant coach Kevin Hurtado, standing center, and Bobcats head coach Stacy Galema.

There are many stresses that come with being a senior in high school, arguably the most important being what to do after your time in high school is done.

Marshalltown senior Vanessa Garcia Armas solved that question on Wednesday, as the Bobcat soccer player is continuing her career on the pitch at Indian Hills Community College starting next season.

“I am just glad I got it over with,” Garcia Armas said after her signing letter of intent. “I am really looking forward to starting to play with the team, getting into action and having time there with the players as well.”

From the moment she stepped onto campus in Ottumwa, Garcia Armas said she felt like she found where she wanted to continue to play, thanks in part to the friendly Warriors coaching staff.

“[Indian Hills assistant coach Kevin Hurtado] made it welcoming as well as [head coach Anthony Longo],” Garcia Armas said. “The girls there really have a good atmosphere, when I started playing there for a little bit at a scrimmage I had a really good time with them. It was a great overall experience there.”

Hurtado, who was in attendance for the signing, said the coaching staff was drawn to Garcia Armas because of her offensive abilities, as she finished second on the team in scoring last season for the Bobcats.

“One of the things I really liked about watching Vanessa play is her ability to be physical on the ball as a forward,” Hurtado said. “In our game we need players that can play physical and hold onto the ball and help the team create scoring chances. I think watching Vanessa play really reinforced to us that she is a player that could help us next season with our attack.”

MHS head coach Stacy Galema said Garcia Armas isn’t just effective with the ball in her possession.

“A lot of it is her play off the ball, getting open and finding space,” Galema said. “She is good at getting in between defenders and working her way towards the goal instead of waiting until she receives the ball. She is already well on her way there when it comes.”

Hurtado said because of those abilities she already possesses, Garcia Armas should fit wonderfully into the Warriors’ system.

“I see her being one of our main strikers,” he said. “We normally play with two forwards and one of them is more of a target forward, one that holds onto the ball and the one that can link up with the second forward and the outside players. Seeing her play, I think her style matches how we want to play with the ball when we have possession.”

This signing is a long time in the making for Garcia Armas, as Galema recalled many occasions where the senior striker would stay after practice working on her skills. Garcia Armas said none of this would be possible without the great coaching staff she has worked with at MHS.

“First of all I have to thank Stacy, she makes us work on what we actually need to work on, like technical things, and that’s one of the things I was struggling with at the first,” she said. “We got through stuff like that and I saw improvement there, now at Indian Hills they are willing to work individually, which is another thing I like from them.”

Garcia Armas is the second Bobcat to ink a commitment before the season, joining Naomi Boland who is going to Nebraska Christian College. Galema said there are a few other seniors who are working on solidifying where they will continue their soccer careers, so this season will be a special one for the Bobcats and she looks forward to continuing the girls’ development while she still has them.

“I just want them to know that they can always improve,” Galema said. “Like Vanessa and her work off the ball, if you think about it there are 22 players on the field and one ball, so a lot of the time you have to think about ‘how can I be in a space to help my teammates or help win the ball back?'”

The Marshalltown girls soccer team will officially kick off its season on April 2 when it hosts Pella.