PORTSMOUTH — Increasing a program’s international reach is never a bad thing.
That’s especially the case when a soccer program lands two productive young talents from Spain.
Offensive standouts Alba Closa Tarres and Sara Martin Reguera, who hail from the communities of Avia and Leon in one of Europe’s largest countries, will make history when they become the first players to suit up for the Shawnee State women’s soccer program this coming fall.
For both players, the opportunity to play in the United States gives the pair a chance to not only advance their soccer skills, but learn about new cultures that they haven’t yet experienced.
“Signing with Shawnee State means a lifetime opportunity for me,” Closa Tarres said. “It gives me the chance to play four years of soccer while getting a degree and learning about another culture.”
“It’s a great step forward for me,” Martin Reguera said. “It gives me the opportunity to advance my academic and sports training at a four-year institution.”
Martin Reguera, who didn’t begin playing competitive soccer until she was in high school, has quickly advanced up the ladder — after leading her high school futsal unit at IES Eras de Renueva to a league championship.
She later played for CD Nuestra Senora de Belen and CD Leon in Spain before moving to France, where Martin Reguera played for the University of Nimes before coming to the United States.
At Barton College in Great Bend, Kan., Martin Reguera helped lead the Bulldogs — which competed at the highest level of junior college soccer in participating at the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I level — to a 24-10-4 record.
In 2019, Martin Reguera was part of a Barton unit that finished 15-4-1 and won its first Jayhawk West Conference championship since 2008.
As for Closa Tarres, the 18-year old has already enjoyed a standout career.
Having played competitive soccer since the age of five, Closa Tarres has played for five different soccer clubs and has established herself as a leader at every stop, finishing as the season’s top scorer three years ago and as the top scorer on her latest unit — FC Manresa — last year.
For Martin Reguera — who will be a junior — Shawnee State’s educational possibilities in graphic design, coupled with its friendly student-to-teacher ratio, were the selling point.
Having already been through three graphic design internships prior to her time at Barton, Martin Reguera was able to obtain her associate’s degree at Barton while maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA throughout her time there.
She’ll look to collect a bachelor’s degree while furthering her knowledge in that area.
“I chose Shawnee because of its academic plan, which fits perfectly with my goals,” Martin Reguera said. “The size of the university allows students to have better and more individualized attention from teachers, with more focus on each student.”
As for Closa Tarres, her main connection with Shawnee State was the growing importance that the Bears have placed on European players.
Under Natasha Ademakinwa’s direction, SSU has drastically increased its international foothold as the women’s soccer program will sport 10 players from international countries, including eight from European descent, this coming fall.
“I believe that I can fit well with the team,” Closa Tarres said. “I think that their playing style is better than others. They emphasize lots of passes, are really positional, play with the ball, and showcase a lot of teamwork.”
For both Martin Reguera and Closa Tarres, their goals are to make the best of the opportunities in front of them, and open Shawnee State up to individuals from their own homeland.
“I want to acquire all the qualities and knowledge necessary to build my career in the world of graphic design,” Martin Reguera said. “I would also like to achieve and make the most of the opportunities that SSU offers to develop athletically, personally and professionally.”
“I hope to develop as a player next to the best individuals, and do our best during the season,” Closa Tarres said. “I also hope to grow as a person. Shawnee State and Coach Natasha have trusted me, and given me this opportunity. I want to make the best of it and enjoy it.”
For more information on SSU Bears Athletics, visit www.ssubears.com or visit the Twitter and Facebook pages at https://twitter.com/SSUBears and https://www.facebook.com/SSUBears. For more information on how to join the SSU Bear Club, visit https://givetossu.com/bear-club.