Two close friends who have played soccer together since seventh grade, Peyton Garner and Daytona Tuso, will take their talents to the next level after signing Letters of Intent Feb. 7 before friends and family on after being recruited and offered college scholastic/athletic scholarships.
In addition to youth and high school teams, Tuso and Garner have played together on elite travel teams including Fresno Chaos and Odyssey.
The signings took place Feb. 7 on the Yosemite High School campus. Athletic Director Rusty Oetinger said it has been a long time since a girl soccer player from Yosemite has gone on to play at the college level with on scholarship.
Garner, who has broken all the boys and girls school records at Yosemite for scoring, is currently the No. 4 scorer in California and No. 14 in the nation with her 48 goals to date this season. She has 105 goals at Yosemite in her three year varsity career.
She will stay close to home to play for the Fresno Pacific University Sunbirds. The team is an NCAA D-II team that plays in the PacWest Conference with the campus is about 50 miles from Oakhurst.
Tuso, on the other hand, will travel cross-country to join the Belmont Abbey College team, an NCAA D-II school about 2,530 miles east of Oakhurst in Belmont, North Carolina. She is currently enrolled in Yosemite Falls, the independent study program through Yosemite High and Yosemite Unified School District.
Tuso attended Yosemite High her sophomore and junior year and played on the varsity team. She also played varsity her freshman year at San Joaquin Memorial.
Both athletes said it has been a dream of theirs since they first started playing soccer to someday play soccer at the college level.
Garner now a Sunbird
This past season, the Sunbirds had an overall record of 9-6-3 and 9-2-2 in conference play. The team’s head coach is Rob Podeyn, and he was voted the PacWest Conference Coach of the Year this past season after the Sunbirds turned in the highest finish in program history. FPU defeated Azusa Pacific for the first time ever (17 previous meetings), and the team missed winning the conference by 1 point after tying its last two games in conference play.
FPU, a private Christian school with an enrollment of 3,600, has a young women’s soccer team, recruiting 14 freshman last year, and have recruited another five players, including Garner, who will be freshman next season.
Podeyn is very familiar with Garner, having worked with her the past three years in club soccer.
“We know Peyton well and liked her from the start,” Podeyn said. “Peyton has had a tremendous season and we are very proud of her and we are looking forward to her joining our team.”
Podeyn is optimistic about the Sunbirds future.
“We are committed and strongly believe we are recruiting some of the best players in the Central Valley and we are looking at a conference title this next season,” Podeyn said. “Winning conference will give us an automatic bid to the NCAA national tournament.”
Podeyn holds a 27-19-6 mark in his first three seasons at FPU. A published author, he has written seven books on the sport of soccer.
Other schools in the PacWest include Azusa Pacific, Point Loma, Concordia, Biola, California Baptist, Holy Names, Hawai Hilo, Dixie State, Academy of the Arts, Dominican, Charminade and Norte Dame DeNamur.
Garner will major in physical therapy.
Tuso now a Crusader
Belmont Abby, a private Catholic college with an enrollment of 1,700, finished third in the Conference Carolinas regular season with a 11-5-2 overall record, with a 7-3-1 conference record this past season.
Other schools in the conference include Southern Wesleyan, Converse, Mount Olive, Barton and King universities.
The head coach is Mike Lynch who came to Belmont Abbey in June, 2011 with a clear mission to graduate leaders committed to excellence and virtue, win the Conference Carolinas and advance at the postseason NCAA national tournament. In his first five seasons at the Abbey, Lynch’s teams have gone 67-31-10, winning two conference championships and one regular-season title, while making three NCAA tournament appearances, including a spot in the regional final in 2013.s
Head Coach Mike Lynch said he first saw Tuso play at our summer Elite Player Camp she attended after her sophomore year. We were impressed with her speed, technical ability, and competitiveness as well as a good fit with our positive, family team culture.”
Our vision is to be the best place in the country to play college soccer. Our mission is to provide a premier, faith centered collegiate experience preparing our players for life. Our annual goals are to graduate leaders of character and compete for championships. We fully expect and will support Daytona in this vision, mission and goals. Below is some more info on our college and program. Thank you for reaching out.
In the classroom, the team has earned three National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Team Academic Awards recognizing a team grade point average above 3.0 and two NSCAA Team Ethics and Sportsmanship Awards for receiving no red cards and less than 10 yellow cards over the entire season. In 2014, the team was one of 11 out of 2,975 college soccer programs in the United States (top 1%) to earn both the Team Academic and Team Ethics/Sportsmanship Awards while also winning that same year’s conference championship.
Tuso will major in business and marketing.
Details: www.fresno.edu - www.belmontabbeycollege.edu.