MELISSA – Two close friends who’ve played soccer together since kindergarten will continue their careers together in college. Reagan Eichel and Brittany Morgan, two standouts for Melissa’s perennially successful Lady Cardinals soccer team, made it official Thursday at Melissa High School. Surrounded by friends, family and coaches, the longtime BFFs signed National Letters of Intent to attend Brookhaven College in nearby Farmers Branch.
In remarks to the crowd, Lady Cards head coach Manuel Avila said of the two four-year starters, “They had the opportunity [this season] to step out of the shadow and take over a team that has had success. And, lo and behold, look at the success we’re still having.” Avila noted that this year’s squad has “arguably the best chance to go to state” of any soccer team Melissa has fielded. “The expectation is there,” he said, “and these two girls are going to lead us to that this year. … I’m happy to see that they’re going [to college] together. They’re going to drive each other crazy a little bit longer.”
Currently ranked second in Class 4A Region 2, the Lady Cards just wrapped up a fifth-straight unbeaten district-championship slate and are poised to make another deep playoff run.
At Brookhaven, Morgan and Eichel will be joining another highly successful program. The Bears won a national championship in 2017 and were national-champion runners up last season. Brookhaven competes in the National Junior College Athletic Association and is a member of the Dallas Athletic Conference. Bears head coach Jimmy Elder attended the signing event.
Eichel, a consistent headache for opponents as a midfielder, was the District MVP last season and a District Defensive Player of the Year as a sophomore. Morgan has been District Goalkeeper of the Year for three-straight seasons, as well as a First-Team All-State pick as a freshman and an All-Region selection each of the last two years.
“I’m just really blessed and honored to have Brookhaven become interested in me,” Morgan said. “And it’s a real pleasure to have the coaching staff and teammates I do that push me forward. … I left with a legacy but they’re going to keep it going.” Morgan said she thought she might be a good goalkeeper way back in second grade. “I always had this toughness. I’m not afraid to push someone down, and I’m not small, so I think my coaches recognized that.”
Morgan plans to study nursing and said she would like to become a pediatrician. She’s the daughter of Ron and Kimberly Morgan. Three of Morgan’s four brothers, Ryan, Cody and Kyle, played football for Melissa and Ryan and Cody went on to play in college. “This is No. 5,” Ron said. “It’s a great day for Brittany. I just want her to be happy more than anything. This college really recruited her. She was recruited by probably 100 colleges and chose this one.”
“She made a great choice,” Kimberly said. “She’s with a great program and that’s all we want for her – to blossom. … Melissa has been great. She loves it.”
Also in attendance was Morgan’s personal goalie coach, former Dallas Sidekicks star Sagu. “She’s a big talent,” he said. “She’s worked hard.” Sagu won a World Indoor Soccer League championship with the Sidekicks in 2001, then three more professional titles with the Baltimore Blast where his number was recently retired.
“It’s kind of nerve-wracking, honestly,” Eichel said of taking this next step. “I’m scared to go off on my own, but I’m not exactly on my own. I’ll have Brittany with me and I’m close to home. … I liked the [Brookhaven] coaches a lot and the girls. We went out and practiced with them two weeks ago. They were all really inviting and just nice. And I liked the campus.” She plans to study business.
As for her Melissa playing days, Eichel said, “It’s probably one of the best feelings ever. I’ve grown up playing soccer for 13-plus years and I don’t think I’ve ever felt more accomplished. It’s nice being able to experience this with all the girls and all my best friends.”
Eichel is the daughter of Jeff and Alex Eichel. All three of their kids have played Melissa soccer - Erin, who graduated last year, and Nicholas, who was a senior on the Cards’ inaugural team five years ago. “She’s always wanted to play,” Alex said of Reagan, “so this is exciting. I can go see all the games. That’s going to be easy and nice. The coaches were wonderful. … It was a beautiful campus - laid back and just a great location.”