By: Katie Rihn
Coming off of back-to-back US Youth Soccer National Championships with the Del Mar Carmel Valley (DMCV) Sharks club team, incoming Nevada soccer freshman Angel Meriwether hopes to bring that championship mentality to the Wolf Pack as she begins her collegiate journey.
"The mental toughness that I learned from being with my club team will be really helpful at the collegiate level," Meriwether said. "Everyone brings something different to the team and you have to be willing to do anything and make sacrifices and my time with the Sharks taught me those valuable lessons."
Part of that `do whatever it takes' mentality is one of the things that drew Nevada head coach Dr. Melissa Price to recruit Meriwether.
"Angel is a fiery competitor and is determined to succeed, it was one of the qualities I saw in her early in the recruiting process," Price said. "She has the ability to make the players around her better and she's never going to give up on her teammates. I know she was driven and committed to the goal of winning again this year and nothing was going to deter that laser focus. We congratulate her on winning back to back National Championships with her club team and we're proud of her accomplishments."
The 5-4 rookie out of San Diego, Calif. will likely see time as a forward at Nevada, having scored 14 goals as a senior at Westview High School, but she spent her three-year career with DMCV as an outside midfielder. The DMCV Sharks operates under the California Youth Soccer Association-South and is based in suburban Carmel Valley, Calif. She was offered a tryout with the Sharks and head coach Felicia Kappes after her previous club team had disbanded.
After capturing the national title in 2013, the Sharks had one goal in mind for 2014 and were poised to walk away with yet another title.
Meriwether's 2014 Sharks team sustained its dominance at nationals, going undefeated through the group play stage. DMCV defeated Carlsbad Elite in the semifinals by the score of 1-0 to earn the right to defend its title against VSA Heat 96 Blue. A tally midway through the second half of the championship match proved to be enough for the Sharks to call themselves back-to-back champs.
"Our club team was very close, we were basically like a family," said Meriwether. "We knew that since this was our last year playing together, we didn't want to end the season not being national champions. That is one of the things I'll remember most, being such a close team and always being there to play for each other."
Being a tight knit group both on and off the field is just one piece of the championship puzzle, however. Meriwether credits the extreme training that was a necessary element to putting it all together. The eye-opening training regimen included three-a-day practices wearing long sleeves, sweatshirts and sweats as a way to adjust to the intense temperatures the team would face at nationals.
"I think going into the first year of nationals we didn't really know what we were getting into," said Meriwether. "That first year though really showed us how to handle everything that went into preparing for a national championship so the second time around we came in a lot more experienced and we were able to know what we needed to do."
With all of the training and preparation needed for the national stage, Meriwether feels that has helped her in her transition into the college game, with some adjustments still to be made.
"The differences here that I have to adapt to are different coaching styles, going from one coach to three, and the dry weather has been an adjustment too," said Meriwether. "Playing with new teammates is something to get used to also but I think I'm doing pretty well after this preseason camp."
Entering her first collegiate season this Friday, Meriwether doesn't have many expectations set and plans to go with the flow and see how the year progresses. Being a rookie she is unfamiliar with the competition but does have her sights set on a successful season. She credits a solid preseason camp to highlighting different strengths of the team and feels confident that the team has the ability to play together and come out on top.