A Mission soccer star is setting up shop in Oregon in the fall.
Goalkeeper Liam Bates signed a letter of intent to join the Southwestern Oregon Community College Lakers last week.
He received a full scholarship from the Coos Bay, Ore. school, and is expecting to be the team’s starting goalkeeper in his rookie year.
Bates started playing soccer in Mission at the age of six, eventually playing for the Metro Selects and U21 soccer teams in Maple Ridge. He currently plays for Fraser Valley Premier FC in the BC Soccer Premier League.
Bates is planning to study biology in Oregon, and said he’s looking forward to the fall.
“The campus is beautiful and they have very nice training facilities,” he said, talking about his campus visit earlier this year. “I think Southwestern is going to be a good fit for me.”
Soccer coach Paul Segovia, who has coached Bates in Maple Ridge and Langley, said the Mission product is a unique talent.
“I’ve been coaching in Canada since 1986 and he is one of the best goalkeepers I’ve coached in the last 20 years,” he said.
Segovia said there was significant interest in Bates from several post-secondary soccer programs, but the fact that the first-year student has been guaranteed to get playing time with Southwestern was a deciding factor.
Bates attributed a lot of his success to the many hours spent training with Segovia, who has coached him the past eight years.
Segovia said it ha been a joy to work with Bates over the years.
“He is so coachable and his work ethic has really made him become a better player,” he said. “The one word to best describe a good goalkeeper is confidence, and he has that. When he plays, he shouts, and he is very vocal out there for his teammates.”
The Lakers, who play in the Northwest Athletic Conference, finished last season with a record of 14 losses and one tie. They kick off the season with friendlies in late-August, and then kick off the regular season in September.
For more on the team, visit swoccathletics.com.