Kirtland Central senior Zoey Hooper, bottom right, poses for a photo with her family and KCHS head soccer coach Leonel Camacho, bottom left, and KCHS
Kirtland Central senior Zoey Hooper, bottom right, poses for a photo with her family and KCHS head soccer coach Leonel Camacho, bottom left, and KCHS principal Shawna Becenti, top right, on Thursday at Kirtland Central High School. (Joshua Perry — The Daily Times)

KIRTLAND — Kirtland Central forward Zoey Hooper will continue playing soccer in college.

Hooper has signed with New Mexico Highlands University and will have the opportunity to earn playing time right away for the Cowgirls next season.

"Zoey is a gifted athlete with a great personality and attitude," NMHU head coach Justin Hagar said via email. "She's proven to be a consistent goal scorer and leader for her team, and we believe she'll continue to carry that over into her college playing career here at Highlands. Hooper is someone who has performed each year we've worked with her, and she has found ways to be dangerous whenever she has the ball at her feet. She'll battle up top for a position at striker for us in the fall."

Hooper finished the 2013 season with 20 goals and seven assists for KCHS and was named first team all-district and honorable mention all-state last year.

"It's pretty amazing. When I think about it, it feels too good to be true," said Hooper, who was one of only six 4A girls to score at least 20 goals last season. "I can't wait to show everyone what I can do."

The Lady Broncos' senior has spent the past four years working with Hagar during the offseason. KCHS head coach Leonel Camacho said maintaining contact with Hagar is important because it gives players like Hooper a chance to move on to the college level and keeping playing the sport.

"It's very important to have those connections when you're coaching at the high school level to be able to get the kids to transition to the next level," Camacho said. "Our concern is 'What are we doing to prepare them for the next level?' We feel like we're doing that."

Hooper was joined by Farmington High's Katelynn Flack as part of the NMHU 2014 signing class.

NMHU competes in NCAA Division II as part of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. The Cowgirls soccer team finished in fourth place in RMAC play last season and finished with a 9-7-3 record overall.

Joshua Perry covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 and jperry@daily-times.com. Follow him @jperrysuu on Twitter.