Observer staff

Cristian Miramontes didn’t have to go far to continue is soccer career.

The La Grande senior was among the first signees by the Eastern Oregon men’s soccer team ahead of the 2018 season, the school announced Tuesday.

“I chose Eastern becuase I really enjoy the team and the team culture,” Miramontes said. “The coach was great to me and I love the environment. Eastern was the right fit for me. I’m super excited for a new challenge in life. Also want to thank my family, friends, coaches and UCYSA. I wouldn’t be here without them.”

Miramontes was an integral part of the Tigers’ success during his four years with the program. The Tigers reached the playoffs all four seasons Miramontes was on the team, advancing as far as the Class 4A state quarterfinals in both 2015 and 2016. This season, La Grande went 9-5-0 and reached the first round of the playoffs.

“I think EOU is going to be a good fit for him,” La Grande head coach Wade Wright said. “He’s going to fit right into their style of play. I look forward to him making an impact really early.”

This season, the midfielder scored 12 goals to tie the team lead and added seven assists while being named first-team all-Greater Oregon League and second-team all-state.

“Cristian is going to be one of those players that you will watch his game get noticeably better each time he sets foot onto the soccer field,” EOU men’s head coach Ken Huber said in the EOU press release. “His soccer talents aside, Cristian’s drive and mental determination to succeed is going to make him a special player.”

Wright believes Miramontes has the needed skills, but will need to adjust to the style of play at the college level.

“The place he’ll have to grow (is that) the game is going to be a lot faster and a lot more physcal than he’s used to,” Wright said.

Joining Miramontes in the first wave of the class is defender Kaleb Rainsberry, a transfer from Columbia Basin College and a former standout at Kamiakin High School in Washington. Rainsberry helped Kamiakin to a state championship during his tenure. During his senior year, he scored six goals and added three assists.

With CBC, he was a key backline player on a team that went 11-3-2 overall with seven shutouts and reached the quarterfinals of the Northwest Athletic Conference playoffs.

“We are very excited to have Kaleb join EOU next fall,” Huber said in the release. “He brings the discipline, confidence and mentality that we are looking for here at Eastern. Kaleb’s abilities and his perseverance help elevate his game to excel, no matter who he is playing against. I am very excited to have him on board.”