SALADO — Barely a month ago, Salado boys soccer head coach Michael Goos spoke highly of senior Daniel Lemus and what his signing meant for the Eagles burgeoning soccer program.
If Lemus represented a step up, the program took a leap forward Thursday as a trio of Eagles signed letters of intent to play soccer at the next level.
Chase Crenwelge and Tristan Bragg both signed with Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene while Josh Rogers inked with University of Mary Hardin-Baylor at a purple and gold strewn ceremony at the Salado High School gym.
Like Lemus, each will compete in the American Southwest Conference, thus signing side-by-side Thursday was the only way to go for the close-knit group.
“I wouldn’t want it any other way,” Rogers said.
“Those are two of my best friends, and we all planned it, we’re like, ‘let’s sign together.’ We’ve been winning together since the beginning and we want to end it together with signing to college.”
For Crenwelge and Bragg, the opportunity to play together — and for a school with a tight-knit soccer team and a strong academic profile — was one they weren’t going to pass up.
Bragg committed a week after the two visited together, and while Crenwelge was still making up his mind, Bragg ultimately swayed him to join him.
“I was on a football recruiting visit to Trinity, and he texted me and said I made my decision,” Crenwelge said. “So, I was like, ‘alright, let’s go to Hardin Simmons then.’”
Rogers was swayed by the smaller campus and Christian environment at UMHB as well as the soccer program led by head coach Brad Bankhead.
For Bragg, being able to compete with and against some of his Salado teammates was just as exciting as the signing itself.
“I’m happy because I’m going with my friend Chase, and I get to compete against Josh and my friend, Daniel, who signed not too long ago,” Bragg said. “So, I get to compete against all of them. We’ll all kind of together still.”
The four will also be linked together in Salado soccer history as the largest signing class the young program has ever had.
Goos for one, was particularly excited for the standard the group has set for players to come.
“If I get four going to play in the next four years I’d be a happy coach,” Goos said. “To have four in one year, I think it says a lot about them.”
And after winning a district title this past season and advancing to the second round of the Class 4A playoffs, Thursday was a fitting end to their high school soccer careers for Bragg, Crenwelge and Rogers.
“It’s the cherry on top,” Rogers said.