BY MIKE HOUSER
Appeal Sports Writer
Ever since she was a freshman for the Carson Senators girls soccer team, it was apparent that Brandi Vega had an extra gear, a certain special something that set her apart from her peers.
During her first three years on the Senators' varsity squad, the gifted Vega won three consecutive Sierra League Offensive Player of the Year awards and participated in the 2007 United States Youth Soccer Region IV Olympic Development Program (ODP) camp, where she worked with Washington State women's soccer coach Matt Potter and California's Jennifer Thomas.
Vega's achievements went far from unnoticed and after being heavily recruited by such schools as Fresno State, Hawaii and San Jose State, among others, the 17-year-old, now a senior center midfielder for the Senators, verbally committed to Washington State in June.
"I feel very comfortable," Vega said of her choice. "I can build myself there, get better and play against the best players in the country. The Pac-10 is the best league in the country, with teams like UCLA and USC."
Heeding the advice of CHS coach Randy Roser, Vega carefully considered three factors before making a choice: She had to like the team, the coach and the area.
Bearing Roser's advice in mind, she said Washington State, Potter and Pullman, Wash., were a perfect fit for her.
"I like the coaches " they connect with the players," said Vega. "The area has a small-town college feel. Everyone supports the college. Everyone knows everyone and if you have a game, everyone knows that."
Due to NCAA regulations, Potter is not allowed to comment on a recruitable athlete, but Roser said the Cougars would be getting a complete player in Vega.
"It's great for her. To be highly recruited by Division-I colleges is a huge success," Roser said. "Washington State is a great choice. Matt Potter is a good guy and a good coach. He'll take care of Brandi.
"She's matured a lot this spring playing club soccer (for the Boca Juniors in Sacramento). She sees plays, sees the game and she's become a leader. She's the whole package now."
Vega said that playing with two national players of the year for Boca from April through July helped her further develop her already prodigious game.
"After playing with them, it was knowing where to place it, how to finish it and becoming a leader," Vega said.
Seemingly tireless, always tenaciously competitive and gifted with feet out of "The Matrix," Vega represents many things to many different people.
"We were at this tournament in Boise, Idaho," Roser said. "and I was standing next to this guy. He saw Brandi and the first words out of his mouth were, 'This girl's a stud.' She's like (World Player of the Year) Marta, of Brazil, the way she goes after players. It's going to be a journey to watch little Miss Vega to see where she goes (in the sport).
"Washington State has national players on the team, so Brandi will be in the line of fire for national coaches to take notice."
Garnering herself some more attention would suit Vega just fine.
"I intend to do better," said Vega, who has notched a career 39 goals and 38 assists for the Senators and whose fly-paper defense and juking-and-jiving footwork consistently befuddles opponents. "I want to play for the 2012 National Team in the Olympics. That's still a dream."
Now, with her verbal commitment to Washington State (11-5-3 overall and 4-4-1 in the Pac-10 last year), Vega, who plans to major in architecture, can continue to draw up her plans on achieving her dream.