Two more Western Nebraska Community College women’s soccer players are taking their talents to the four-year level after signing letters of intent the middle of March.
Rafaella Ornelas, from Belo Horizonte, Brazil, will be taking her soccer skills to Judson College in Illinois, a NAIA school that went 1-1 at the NCCAA National tournament.
Lisa Haferkamp, from Almere, Netherlands, will also be taking her talents to the NAIA level after signing with St. Thomas University in Florida. St. Thomas finished the season last fall with a 10-6-1 record and going 1-1 in the Sun Conference Tournament.
Both are excited to continuing their soccer playing at the next level.
“I always wanted to go to Florida so it is a good opportunity to play soccer,” Haferkamp said.
“It is very important [for me to continue playing soccer. That is why I am in America.”
For Ornelas, she picked Judson because it had a good program of what she wants to do and the soccer program is also national prominent.
“First of all I always wanted to do Architecture abroad from Brazil and Judson has the bachelors and master’s degree in Architecture. Their program is one of the best sp it was a pretty good choice,” she said. “I am very excited [to keep playing soccer]. They made nationals this past fall and their season was very good. I am excited to go there and play with the girls there.”
Both were part of a Cougar soccer team that finished last fall with 13 wins with just four losses, the second most in school history. The Cougars also made it to the semifinals of the Region IX tournament, falling to eventual regional champs Gillette College 3-0.
Ornelas said the athletes wanted to win and that was the key.
“We were determined to win, she said. “We were a better team than we were last year when I came here. The girls still here will try to do a better job of winning the regional next year and I am going to cheer for them.”
This bunch of players had a special connection. There were plenty of players form Brazil and other countries that made a tight bond. Most of the team as signed to continue playing but everyone will be heading to different colleges.
“It will be sad [when everyone leaves],” Ornelas said. “I think we have more than 10 Brazilians here and they are very united. Losing them will be sad but hopefully we will keep in touch and see how they will do at the other universities.”
Ornelas and Haferkamp have improved their game since coming to WNCC. Ornelas was more a defensive player for the team. She did have one assist last year. Haferkamp was a vital cog off the bench. She finished the year with a goal and two assists.
Haferkamp said soccer in the states is different.
“It is totally different here so I learned a new style of soccer,” Haferkamp, who played soccer since she was six years old, said. “Here they work a lot with conditioning and back home it is more technical. I hated the conditioning part of it.”
For Ornelas, she said she can tell that she played better this year than her freshman season. Plus, she said, she plays better in the colder weather.
“Learning soccer here taught many different things. I did a lot better this year than my first year here,” she said. “I think I play better when it is cold than it is hot. I feel like I have more energy to play and when it is hot, I am kind of lazy.”
Both said they enjoyed their time at WNCC and will miss Scottsbluff.
“I will definitely miss the team,” Haferkamp said. “They are like family for me right now. There will be a lot of people I will miss. I just want to thank my team, my coach Todd Rasnic, Doug [Jones], and everyone in these 2 ½ years I have been here.”
For Ornelas, leaving here is something she knows will be hard and she is trying not to think about.
“I want to thank everybody from my teammates from Brazil,” she said. “I made really good friends here. I want to thank coach and all my friends I made here. I appreciate everything you have done for me.”