By Jeremy Balan
Senior girls soccer players Celeste Boureille and Kate Bettinger have been playing in one of the Bay Area’s most prominent sports rivalries in their respective high school careers and that’s not going to change when the pair enters college next school year.
Boureille, of Sacred Heart Cathedral, signed a letter of intent to commit to Cal on Wednesday, while Bettinger, of City rival St. Ignatius, signed with Stanford on national signing day.
“Now it’s just all set in stone,” Boureille said. “I’m just super excited to be a Cal Bear.”
Bettinger verbally committed to the Cardinal in her sophomore year and Boureille indicated her intent in her junior year, but the pair made it official on Wednesday and embraced the opportunity to keep the rivalry going at the next level.
“I just realized this year that, ‘Oh, we’re going to be rivals again,’” Bettinger said. “I’ve known of her, but I haven’t gotten to really know her. Obviously, when we play them, we talk after the game, because she’s a great player.”
SI and Sacred Heart are both in the bottom half of the West Catholic Athletic League standings this season, but the two seniors are often the most-talented players on the field in any given game.
“They’re both great to watch,” said Sacred Heart head coach Matt Nuttall. “If you appreciate the game at all, you have to love to watch both of them play. At both schools, we don’t have any other superstars. They’ve been the focal point of every [opposing] team.”
Boureille is the first girls soccer player Sacred Heart has ever sent to a Pac-12 Conference school and was the only Irish player in any sport to commit on national signing day.
“For me personally, I just feel really lucky that Celeste and I started in the same year,” Nuttall said. “She’s a once-in-a-career player. From a program perspective, it legitimizes what we’re doing. It shows young girls in the City that they can stay in the City and go on to play college.”
Conversely, St. Ignatius has a tradition of sending out Division I soccer recruits, including Audrey Gibson last season, who is currently playing at Duke.
“It’s so hard to project [how she will do], especially at Stanford, where they recruit the best of the best,” St. Ignatius head coach Carlos Escobar said of Bettinger. “She has an X factor, though, where she works harder than everyone else. She puts in the work, focuses on the details and with the coaching she receives at the next level, I expect to hear big things from her.”
While both were excited to play soccer at the highest level in college, they also made a point to note how important it was to attend two elite academic universities.
“For me, it’s been my goal since I was a really little kid,” Bettinger said. “To go to a school like Stanford and to be able to play soccer — it doesn’t get better than that.”