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AKERSFIELD, Calif. – Head Football Coach Sebastien Vecchio and the CSU Bakersfield women’s soccer program announced five signatories to an NLI or AGIA for 2022 on Monday.

Signatories include Anela Nigito (Capital, Mendoza, Argentina), Alani Mexia (Northridge, CA), Penny Smith (Los Angeles, CA), Devan Furukawa (Bakersfield, CA) and Hollee Hercik (Baroda, MI).

“Kate and I have worked extremely hard over the winter break and are very pleased with these five signatories,” Vecchio said. “It’s a very strong group of players from different backgrounds and with a lot of experience at the Division I level. We’re looking for all of them to compete in the spring to improve this roster.”

Anela Nigito | Freshman | Centre-back | Capital, Mendoza, Argentina | Italian School XXI of April
Anela Nigito is a recent high school graduate (December 2021) from Capital, Mendoza, Argentina with national team experience. Nigito was instrumental in Argentina’s U17 side winning the International Foursquare Tournament in 2019.

A decorated student as well, Anela boasted a 3.7 GPA and was honored as the second National Flag Escort. Outside of football, Nigito has competed in horse riding, swimming and dancing. After a degree in kinesiology, Anela plans to play football professionally in Europe.
“Anela has a real professional mentality and she is a very focused person, determined to improve as a player and a student. She has been with the Argentine National and played at a very high level. We are delighted to see how his career is growing here at CSUB.”

Alani Mexia | Second year | Guardian | Northridge, CA | University of Arizona
California native Alani Mexia spent two seasons in Tucson playing for the University of Arizona. Prior to Arizona, Alani was a standout goaltender in the Northridge area at Granada Hills Charter High School. She and the Highlanders won California Interscholastic Federation titles in 2016, 2018, and 2019. Mexia earned individual accolades, including an MVP nod in 2016. She was also named an All Conference First Team, was honorary recipient and won all city honors in 2018 and 2019.

Alani balanced being a student-athlete well in her prep career by landing on the academic honor roll during all four years of high school and earning valedictorian before graduation. After football, Mexia plans to enroll in a medical assistant school once she graduates in biology.

“Alani is a very driven person and is looking to compete for a starting spot with Flavia and Hollee this spring semester. His experience in the Pac12 will help him make a difference here at CSUB.”

Penny Smith | Second year | Left back | Los Angeles, California | University of Alabama
Penny Smith returns to California after two years with the University of Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa. Penny played in seven games in her rookie season, starting twice for Alabama in 2020. She was recognized by the SEC as a freshman honor roll recipient. Last season, she appeared in three non-conference games (Jacksonville State, Lamar and UAB).
Smith spent his prep years at Century Academy making a name for himself on and off the court. She helped the Waves win a Marmonta League championship and was voted MVP of her college team. Penny also played club football for the Camarillo Eagles SC.

While at Century Academy, she received the Congress of Future Medical Leaders Achievement Award from Nobel Laureate Mario Capecchi.

“Penny was brought in to bolster our back line and she is looking forward to starting as an outside back this spring. She is very athletic and has been exposed to top players and coaches during her time at the SEC and with her team. ‘summer.”

Devan Furukawa | junior | Transfer | Bakersfield, California | Taft College
Devan Furukawa is no stranger to Bakersfield, having grown up in the city and graduating in 2019 from Independence High School. Furukawa’s improvement on the pitch from season to season at Taft College was impressive. After registering three assists in 2019, she improved her stats to five goals and six assists in 2021, earning a first-team All-Central Valley conference nod.

At Independence, Devan helped the Falcons win a CIF Central Section title in 2018 and compiled a host of school accolades. In her senior high school football season, Furukawa was voted SYL All-League Offensive Player of the Year.

Furukawa earned her associate’s degree at Taft College and plans to attend dental school after earning a biology degree at CSUB.

“Devan is a homegrown product with great height and athleticism. She can play in multiple positions and we expect her to repeat the success she had playing at Taft College.”

Hollee Hercik | Second year | Guardian | Baroda, MI | Dixie State
Hollee Hercik adds depth to the Roadrunners goaltending squad transferred to Bakersfield from Dixie State University after two seasons in the Western Athletic Conference. She made seven starts and played 562 minutes in her freshman year. Last season she saw action in two games earning 197 minutes on the year.

A 2020 graduate of Lakeshore High School, Hercik also played basketball for the Lancers. His club football team FC Pride 2002 ECNL qualified for the Elite Eight at the National Championships.

Hollee plans to become a scientific geologist after graduating in political science – geopolitics.

“Hollee is a very hardworking goalie looking to make an impact on our team. She brings a lot of experience to our program, is ready to compete for playing time and is looking forward to making our team better.”