SALADO — When Salado girls soccer coach Michael Goos approached Anissa Peralta with the idea of her playing college soccer as a sophomore, Peralta said she thought her coach was insane.
“I didn’t think I would ever make it to this point at all,” Peralta said.
On Thursday, Peralta proved that Goos had a point that day as she signed a letter of intent to play for Howard Payne University in a ceremony in the Salado gymnasium.
For Peralta, the similarities between Salado and Howard Payne were what ultimately swayed her to join the program.
“I like how it’s like Salado, resembles Salado and it’s not too far away from home,” Peralta said.
Peralta said the chance to play soccer at the next level didn’t start to feel real until halfway through her senior season.
But Goos saw the potential for a college soccer player when she was just a sophomore.
“At the time, she was one of the youngest ones on the team,” Goos said. “But at the same time, she probably contributed the most of any of the young ones. She just had so much potential at such a young age.”
Since then, Peralta has grown not only as a player but as a leader.
This past season, she was the Lady Eagles’ lone senior but helped lead the young team to the playoffs.
“She did a great job,” Goos said. “We had a lot of freshmen and sophomores on our team, and they were able to look up to her and turn to her because she had experience.
“She had what it took to be a leader.”
It was during the district season that Howard Payne first showed interest after attending a Lady Eagles road game against Brownwood.
Like her first conversation with Goos, Peralta wasn’t expecting the program to come calling when it did.
“I was shocked,” she said.
But after visiting the school, Peralta said she decided it was the place for her.
“After a while, I concluded that I really like the coach and the family environment there,” Peralta said.
Although Peralta said signing was an amazing experience, no one was happier to see her get a chance to play at the next level than the coach who first approached her about it her sophomore year.
“I think with a lot of our boys that played the other day, I think they’ve probably known since maybe their freshman or sophomore year that that was kind of the road they wanted to take,” Goos said. “But for a girl that maybe didn’t think that that was a possibility, if I had any part in helping her achieve this goal that’s probably even more rewarding.”