Eight Lakewood Ranch athletes make college choices official

Latham 1 of 8 Mustangs bound for college athletics

adell@bradenton.comFebruary 6, 2014 

Lakewood Ranch girls soccer coach Guy Virgilio, left, stands with Mustangs players, from second left, Juliana Guida, Alex Latham and Bri Reda during Wednesday's Signing Day ceremony at Lakewood Ranch. ALAN DELL/Bradenton Herald

Three seniors on Lakewood Ranch's state-bound girls soccer team added a bit of icing to their athletic careers Wednesday.

Heralded goalie Alex Latham signed with NCAA Division I Northwestern State (La.) while defensive specialist Juliana Guida signed with Florida Southern and midfielder Bri Reda with Georgia Southwestern State University, which plays in the Peach Belt Conference.

Latham, who has allowed .182 goals per game this season, has been a stalwart for a defense that gave up only seven goals.

"They were interested in me, and I loved the campus and the academic aspect of it," said Latham, who holds the program's record for consecutive shutouts with 18. She allowed only three goals this season. "The coaches were like family to me, and it is

Division I."

Latham received praise from Northwestern State head women's soccer coach George Van Linder, who signed 13 players for what is expected to be a rebuilding year in 2014 with the likelihood Latham will be in the net.

"She has trained several times with U.S. Men's National goalkeeper Tim Howard. We really think she has even more to give and look forward to her transformation to the college level," Van Linder said.

Northwestern State plays in the Southland Conference. The Lady Demons finished 7-11-1 overall and 5-6-1 in league play last season.

"I call her the insurance policy. She definitely saved a few phenomenal shots, and it's nice to know what she can do back there," Lakewood Ranch girls soccer coach Guy Virgilio said.

A defensive specialist, Guida will join a Florida Southern team that finished 5-11-4 and was 2-5-1 in the Sunshine State Conference.

"It is the perfect for me, and I love the coach," Guida said.

Bobby Photos, a key defender on the Lakewood Ranch boys soccer team playing in the region final Friday, signed with Division II Anna Maria College in Paxton, Mass.

"It's a small school in the woods pretty much. It's about 2,000 people. I have a starting position (center midfield) and I am taking it and going," Photos said.

Mitch Arnold, the top runner on the Lakewood Ranch boys cross country team, signed with the University of Tampa, where he will run cross country and long distance in track.

"It's a great school academically and athletically and pretty close to home, which I wanted," Arnold said. "They are building a great program there and I think it's going to be a good, competitive career. I am expecting to do the 1,500 or 5K in track."

Michelle Last and Emily Perez, key performers on the Lakewood Ranch girls cross country team, also signed.

Last signed with Southern Wesleyan University in South Carolina.

"My coach knows the coach, and there was a good connection there. It's for track and cross county. I will run the 400, 800 and mile in track," Last said.

Perez signed with Southeastern University in Lakeland, where she will participate in cross country and track,

"It's where I wanted to go my whole life," Perez said.

Andrew Giddens has accepted a scholarship to play baseball at Ave Marie University east of Naples, according to Lakewood Ranch athletic director Shawn Trent. Giddens was not present at the signing ceremony.

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