The close friends, who both earned first-team all-league recognition this past season, will continue their athletic careers in Division I.

by: JEFF GOODMAN / PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP - Longtime friends Olivia Baggerly (left) and Chloe Bell (right), shown with Canby girls soccer coach Ben Winegar, sign letters of intent Feb. 5 at Canby High School to continue their athletic careers at Idaho.There was a moment this fall when Chloe Bell realized her time playing alongside Canby girls soccer teammate Olivia Baggerly was dwindling.

Bell had already committed to the University of Idaho. Baggerly had an offer from the Vandals but was still considering other options.

“I was like, ‘You know, this could be our last couple games together,’” Bell said. “I got emotional.”

Added Baggerly: “I was like, ‘Wait a second. I need to take this opportunity. My best friend is going here.’”

Fast forward to Feb. 5, when Bell and Baggerly sealed their parallel futures during a Signing Day ceremony at Canby High School by filling out letters of intent to join the Idaho women’s soccer team.

The close friends will continue their careers under the tutelage of new Vandals coach Derek Pittman, who was hired to take the helm of the Division I program following the December resignation of Peter Showler.

Pittman arrives in Moscow, Idaho, after a four-year stint as an associate head coach of the Gonzaga women’s soccer team, whose roster includes Baggerly’s older sister, Karley.

Bell and Baggerly will try to help Pittman usher in a new era at Idaho, which last year compiled a 4-16 overall record and a 4-8 mark in the Western Athletic Conference. The Vandals, whose 2013 season came to an end in the league tournament semifinals, will compete in the Big Sky Conference next year.

And although Idaho lost six players to graduation, it heads into its upcoming season with a recruiting class that is buoyed by Bell, Baggerly and several other Pacific Northwest products.

Bell, a four-year varsity player who figures to bolster the Idaho midfield, notched seven goals this past season to lead the Cougars’ scoring attack. She was named to the all-Three Rivers League first team for the second year in a row.

She will study either landscape architecture or environmental engineering.

“Chloe is the savvy one of the bunch,” Pittman said in a news release. “As a midfielder, she is very smooth and comfortable on the ball in tight spaces. When under pressure she has the ability to get out of trouble with skill and grace, or simply connect on a quick 1-2 combination, which allows her to unlock defenses at any moment. Her vision and tactical awareness will help us create many more goal-scoring chances this season.”

Baggerly, meanwhile, was utilized across the field during her Canby career. She had three goals and two assists as a sophomore, added 12 assists and three goals as a junior and recorded five goals and four assists this past season, when she earned first-team all-conference honors as a defender.

She plans to study journalism.

“We are ecstatic about adding a player of Olivia’s abilities to our 2014 roster,” Pittman said. “She is player that is very versatile and can play in a lot of positions on the field. She is most comfortable at outside back but could easily fill a hole for us at center back or even play up top to help us score goals. She has height, pace, athleticism as well as a good head for the game along with a tremendous shot on set plays. She has a bright future as a Vandal.” 

For Bell and Baggerly, their futures at Idaho will enrich a deep friendship that transcends soccer.

It all began in third grade on the playground at Ninety-One School.

“She was new,” Bell said. “We were playing wallball, and she was really good. I was like, ‘Who is this new girl? She’s super good.’”

The two built their early bond when they performed in a pretend band at recess, imitating part of a SpongeBob SquarePants cartoon episode.

Their relationship took off when they started playing soccer in the youth ranks.

“We were always on the same team,” Baggerly said.

That remained the case when their parents decided to enroll them in the Oswego Southside Soccer Academy, an area club program in which they participated for many years.

And aside from a rough patch early in high school — their friendship soured while Bell attended Jesuit for her freshman year — each girl has always appreciated the other for myriad reasons.

“When I’m having a bad day, she’s the best example,” Baggerly said. “She’s like, ‘Just live for today.’ Chloe is just living for the moment. And on the field, she’s always calm. She just dances. It looks like she’s dancing on the ball. When I’m freaking out in a tie game, I look at her. She’s my good example. When she’s gone, I get mad or frustrated. She’s like my controller.”

Added Bell: “Olivia is the funniest person I’ve ever met. She’s always so loving. It’s always, ‘Come to my house, let’s go do this.’ ... She’s always a good friend. She’s going to care about you and give you good advice. On the field, she’s a beast out there. She’s going to sprint after the ball. If someone nails our teammate, she’s going to go after that person. She works her butt off, and she can play at any position. She just kicks butt.”

Bell and Baggerly visited Idaho together entering their junior year at Canby and helped the girls soccer program advance past the second round of the state tournament that year for the first time in school history.

This past season, Bell and Baggerly were named co-captains as they led the Cougars to another playoff appearance. Their chemistry was obvious.

“ “We make eye contact, and we just know,” Baggerly said. “She knows exactly where (the ball is) going to go. We’re so close off the field. To make a connection on the field with anybody, you have to build a relationship outside. So, as friends, it’s so easy for us to work together. We’ve always just clicked.”

As they sat next to each other after signing their letters of intent, both girls struggled to come to terms with how quickly they went from being youth soccer players to Division I recruits.

“We would go to (University of Portland) games and look at (the players) like they were gods,” Baggerly said. “Then we started going through the motions, and we didn’t realize how fast it was progressing. We started getting calls and calls and it was like, ‘This is happening.’”

Added Bell: “You put all this hard work into it and you always dream of going to a big school and being an athlete. Once the time comes and it’s finally here, it feels so great to have that next step of where you want to be in life.”

For Bell and Baggerly, though, it’s not only about where they want to be. It’s also about who they’ll be with.

“There was always the hope of, ‘What if we played college soccer together?’” Bell said.

Added Baggerly: “Knowing we’re going keep playing together is really fun.”

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