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The City Journals

Juan Diego soccer player moving on to college ranks

May 17, 2018 01:58PM ● By Catherine Garrett

Juan Diego Catholic High senior soccer player Jered Meriani signed with San Jose State University to play for the Spartans program this fall. (Photo courtesy Jered Meriani)

By Catherine Garrett | [email protected]

Last year, three-time All-State soccer player Jered Meriani, from Juan Diego Catholic High School, was told he was too small — at 5'6" — for college soccer. That comment simply led to a summer of hard work that landed the senior a scholarship to play at the Division I level with San Jose State University. He signed a national letter of intent Feb. 7 to play for the Spartans program.

Meriani, the son of Jery and Leslie Mariani of Riverton, said, “I worked really hard this past year to prove them wrong. I am really happy and relieved to be playing in college and I’m excited about the area and Coach Tobin. I’m sad I have to leave all my friends though. Now, I just need to go get buffer.”

SJSU head soccer coach Simon Tobin said that determination was one of the reasons he wanted Meriani in his program. “We had a very meaningful time in my office with he and his dad and he shared that he had also been told early on that he couldn’t compete at a high club level for too long,” Tobin said. “Jered likes to keep breaking barriers down and proving people wrong. I like that in a kid. We’re happy to have him.”

Juan Diego Catholic High School’s All-State player Jered Meriani will take his talents on the field to San Jose State University’s Division I program this fall. (Photo courtesy Daniel Cavar)

 JDCHS head soccer coach Daniel Cavar, who was also Jered’s USA coach eight years ago, said, “Jered’s size will not affect his soccer ability. He is a very versatile player on the ball and his quickness and agility is just phenomenal.”

Meriani has been the Soaring Eagle program’s top scorer this season — with 14 goals — while leading Juan Diego to an 11-5-1 record and a final four finish at the 4A state tournament.

“Jered has been a big contributor over the past years for our organization and the school,” said Cavar. “We are looking at a player that has a high potential of making it to the professional ranks.”

The 18-year-old got his start in soccer at the age of six after trying nearly every other sport. “I caught on really easy with soccer,” Meriani said. Two year later, he joined the Utah Soccer Alliance program. During his club years, he was voted by the state’s coaches to be on the All-UYSA team that included the top 13 players in Utah. Throughout high school, Meriani was recognized as Honorable Mention on the 3A All-State team and as a First Team All-State player the last two seasons.

Tobin said he noticed Meriani at an SJSU soccer camp and went to see him play at the prestigious Surf Cup in San Diego last summer where he “did very well against good competition.” The veteran coach plans to use Meriani as an outside attacker initially. “Jered certainly has the potential to play anywhere on the attacking line,” Tobin said. “That’s one of the reasons we really liked him — he has good versatility. He makes things happen and bangs in goals. He may not be the biggest, but he has a lot of skill and I’m impressed with his battling qualities.”

Meriani was also selected for the Spartans team because of his demeanor both on and off the field, according to Tobin. “Jered plays nice soccer that is pleasing on the eye, but the longer I’m in this, these kids have to have good character as well. And, Jered is a great kid.”

The sport of soccer has taught Meriani several life skills including learning to work and communicate with others as part of a team, and he said he is grateful for so many who have helped him on his journey to playing at the next level.

“I wouldn’t be able to do what I do and play the sport I love without my friends, family, teammates and coaches,” Meriani said, particularly noting his coaches Cavar, Scott Platz, Myriah Fankhauser and Seth Quealy. “They stuck with me through everything and believed in me from the very beginning. Almost everything I know in soccer is from them and I can’t thank them enough for the endless trainings to get me where I am today.”