Signings: Hinkley’s Teaggan Ilela headed to up-and-coming Division I Alabama State program

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Hinkley senior Teaggan Ilela, center, smiles as soccer coach David Nickoloff talks about her during a National Signing Day ceremony on Feb. 1, 2017, at Hinkley High School. Ilela, who has scored 76 goals in three seasons of high school soccer so far, is headed to play Division I soccer at Alabama State. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

AURORA | The best soccer player at Hinkley High School — boy or girl — in longtime coach David Nickoloff’s estimation will have a chance to display her skills at the next level.

Forward/midfielder Teaggan Ilela, who has posted eye-popping offensive numbers over three varsity seasons for the Thunderbirds, was honored for signing her National Letter of Intent to play soccer at Division I Alabama State in a small ceremony in the school’s media center Wednesday.

Ilela was one of nearly 90 student-athletes from Aurora schools honored on national Signing Day, the regular period for football and soccer signees and others. (Full list of Aurora signees/honorees, here).

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Hinkley senior Teaggan Ilela smiles as she chats with friends before her Signing Day ceremony in the school’s media center on Feb. 1, 2017. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

“I’m really excited to play soccer there and get my biology degree, hopefully,” Ilela said. “It was a really long process and I’m just glad it finally happened.”

After her signing, Ilela’s friends gave her a group hug and chanted her name. She was later going to be honored in front of the whole school as part of an assembly.

Going into her senior season this spring, Ilela has a chance to hit the 100-goal milestone for her career, as she has tallied 76 goals in 43 games in her first three seasons for Nickoloff’s team. Though she scored her fewest number of goals in 2016 (22), she rang up a career-high in assists with 21 and has 47 on her career.

Ilela was voted the league’s Most Valuable Player as a freshman and sophomore and she’s been an All-EMAC first team selection three times. She’s also a three-time member of the Aurora Sentinel’s All-Aurora Girls Soccer Team. Ilela plays for the Real Colorado club program as well.

“She’s going to be greatly missed,” said Nickoloff, whose team has gone 31-13-3 with two Class 5A state playoff appearances in three seasons with Ilela on the roster.

“She makes the entire team better every single time she steps on the field and that just goes to show what kind of great player and person she is as well,” he added.

In a statement on the school’s website, Alabama State head coach Jodie Smith described Ilela as a “crafty target player that gets all of the attacking players involved in the offensive third. She will bring a lot of vision and distribution in front of goal.”

Colorado has two players in Alabama State’s recruiting class of 2017 in Ilela and defender Shelby Unruh out of Mountain Vista, a Class 5A finalist last season.

Alabama State won the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament last season and played in its first NCAA Tournament. The Lady Hornets lost to top-seeded South Carolina in the opening round.

“I think they are moving up, they are getting there; they just won their SWAC conference, so they are competitive,” Ilela said. “The players are really, really friendly and the coaches are, too.”

Ilela brings plenty of athleticism, as she has also played basketball and run track at Hinkley.

She is one of a huge number of Division I girls soccer signees from Aurora that also includes Smoky Hill’s Emily Goodson (Creighton), Brittney Lewis (University of Denver) and Brooke Sosa (University of Idaho); Regis Jesuit’s Karli Eheart (Colorado State), Gabby McWilliams (Santa Clara) and Sydney Pulver (Washington State); Grandview’s Taylor Parker (University of Denver) and Jessica Hixson (University of Utah) — plus Nicole Lyubenko, who graduated early and is now at the University of Alabama; Cherokee Trail’s Rebekah Burton (University of Montana) and Hannah Edwards (Grand Canyon University) and Eaglecrest’s Rylee Atteberry (Coastal Carolina University)

Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel