McALLEN — After a stellar four-year career guarding the goal line for the McAllen High Bulldogs, senior goalkeeper Lexi Gonzalez has officially found her new home.

Surrounded by family, friends and coaches Thursday evening, Gonzalez signed to continue her athletic and academic career at the University of Arkansas. Gonzalez will play soccer for the Razorbacks, an NCAA Division I program that competes in the Southeastern Conference (SEC).

“It means so much having the community come out. All my closest friends and all my amazing coaches, it’s unbelievable and I’m so thankful for them,” Gonzalez said.

A standout multi-sport athlete, Gonzalez initially committed to play volleyball at Oregon State in the Pac-12 Conference, but decided to pass on the court to take the soccer fields of the SEC at Arkansas.

“The environment, the coaches, the team, just felt like home and I wanted to spend my next four years at Arkansas,” Gonzalez said.

She wraps up one of the Rio Grande Valley’s most decorated careers as an all-state goalkeeper, the 2019 RGV Female 6A Athlete of the Year and The Monitor’s 2020 All-Area Girls Soccer Player of the Year. This season, Gonzalez helped lead the Bulldogs to a 21-2 overall record and 12-1 mark in District 30-6A action. She gave up just seven goals and had 16 shutouts in 23 games this season.

“She’s a great goalie, probably the best we’ve ever had and maybe the Valley’s ever seen. But she is such a wonderful person and I can honestly say that the girls on the soccer team will definitely miss her,” McHi girls soccer head coach Pat Arney said.

She was also part of a group dubbed the “Super Sophomores” along with teammates Ava Alaniz (University of Houston) and Westyn Henderson (Texas A&M) as Division I soccer players. Their 2018 Bulldogs team became the first team from the RGV to advance to the state semifinals during their sophomore season.

“Four years ago, at the beginning of the soccer season, I got them together and I said, ‘I want you girls to leave a legacy.’ And I think after four years, they’ve certainly done that, not only as individuals, but as a team,” Arney said.

“I’m going to look back and think all our teams, we truly have left a legacy for McAllen High School,” Gonzalez said.

Prior to signing, she thanked her volleyball coaches, soccer coaches, trainers, teammates, and family for helping her earn the opportunity to play Division I college soccer in the SEC for the Arkansas Razorbacks. McHi also retired her No. 1 volleyball jersey.

Now, she’s headed to Fayetteville, Arkansas, to join a soccer program that accumulated a 17-4-2 record and won the SEC West last season before falling in the SEC championship. Gonzalez, a 6-foot goalkeeper with a 6-foot wingspan, immediately adds athleticism, size and skill to the Razorbacks women’s soccer team.

“I’m ready to compete and hopefully learn a lot. I’m just super eager to get out there,” Gonzalez said.

bramos@themonitor.com