Late U-High goal sinks Newman _lowres

Advocate file photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- University's Jessica Shelby battles Newman's Marguerite Walk for the ball in a 2015 game.

Before the excitement of the playoffs takes over their lives later this week, several Baton Rouge area girls soccer players dedicated themselves to continuing their careers in college on national signing day.

University Lab’s Jessica Shelby, who was the leading scorer on the Cubs’ 2015 state championship run, signed a letter of intent with Nicholls State on Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s a lot, definitely, but I’m excited,” Shelby said of signing only days before her final postseason. “With it all happening at once, it kind of adds to the excitement.”

Shelby won’t be alone in Thibodaux, though. She’ll be living with East Ascension’s Blaire Laiche, who also signed with the Colonels later in the day at a school ceremony.

Laiche and Shelby said they decided to attend Nicholls independently but were excited about the opportunity to continue their careers together after playing on the same team at the Baton Rouge Soccer Club.

“It makes me feel more comfortable to know that I’ll have someone to be with, and I won’t feel like the only newbie,” Laiche said. “It almost gives you some relief that you know somebody.”

Baton Rouge also boasts a pair of players who high school soccer fans may not have seen much of this season in Natalie Presedo and Southern Lab’s Taylor Coleman.

Presedo had previously played at Baton Rouge High but elected to sit out her senior season. She signed a letter of intent to play at the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

Coleman signed with Missouri Valley College, an NAIA program, after not playing high school soccer because the Kittens don’t have a team. She was a multisport athlete, but spent the last year or so focusing on playing club soccer.

“It was pretty challenging not playing with a high school team and playing with a club team most of the fall,” Coleman said. “But I’m happy with my decision and where I’m going to school.”

“It feels good to be a girl who doesn’t have soccer at their school and still be able to sign.”

Also from the area, Mary Taylor Gautreaux of St. Amant signed with William Carey in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and Baton Rouge High’s Lindsy Scalzo signed with the University of Texas-Dallas.