Youth Soccer News: From Brazil to Southern California, Catarina Macario Shines on the Pitch
“We played as a true team coming together on the field as a family, which made it easier to score.” Catarina Macario
In 1999, the year the U.S. Women’s National Team defeated China in penalty kicks to win the FIFA Women’s World Cup, Catarina Macario was born in the soccer-mad country of Brazil. But growing up as a girl in Brazil is not the same as it is in America. While Catarina began playing at age four, along with so many of her neighbors, it soon became clear that her abilities would far outpace the competition.
Because her skills were so advanced, Catarina played on boys’ teams until she was twelve – the age limit for girls to compete with the opposite gender. At that point she and her family were faced with the difficult choice of leaving home or letting go of her dreams. Soccer won out, and Catarina and her father moved to Southern California so she could continue playing at a high level.
Arriving in San Diego on January 1, 2012, Catarina joined San Diego Surf SC and immediately began to make her presence known. In her first year of ECNL Catarina, whose nickname “Cat” fits perfectly with her cat-like quickness, won the coveted Golden Boot at U14, with an amazing 50 goals scored. She also was named the No. 2 player in the country at IMG Academy.
This season Catarina has continued to produce points, scoring 17 goals and adding 10 assists in her first 15 games. At ECNL San Diego, she added two more goals Saturday, April 12, against Colorado Rush and two goals and three assists against De Anza Force to her total. It’s no wonder that SD Surf SC Girls Director of Coaching Colin Chesters has called her “the best goal scoring forward ever to wear a Surf SC uniform.”
Catarina Macario at ECNL San Diego – April, 2014:
Day One: Surf SC U15 3-1 Colorado Rush – Macario, 2 goals
Day Two: Surf SC U15 6-2 De Anza Force U15 – Macario, 2 goals, 3 assists
“She is without doubt the best pure finisher the club has ever produced,” says Chesters. “I’ve coached kids that went on to play in the MLS that don’t understand decisions and the different finishing techniques needed in specific situations the way she does. She is a very special talent.”
More than just a goal scoring phenomenon, Catarina is committed to contributing to her team’s success, as her 10 assists in conference play show. For her, the team is more than a group of talented players, it is her family.
“It was a great team victory at ECNL today,” she said after Surf U15 defeated De Anza Force 6-2. “We played as a true team coming together on the field as a family, which made it easier to score. I scored two goals and assisted on three others, and one time the ball hit the crossbar. Since we lost to De Anza Force 5-2 in the semifinals in Virginia, we have worked even harder. Today’s win was great.”
Former Surf SC coach Chris Lemay, who was Catarina’s first coach in the United States and is currently associate head coach at UC Berkeley, was immediately impressed with her. He has called her the “best young female player in the country,” a sentiment that has been echoed by others who have watched her in action.
“In my opinion, she is the best young female player in the country,” agrees Surf SC coach Ryan Carruth. “Her touch, technique, and ability to beat defenders and score goals are very high level. What really separates her are her awareness, speed of thought and decision making. She is operating on another level than those around her.”
“Without a doubt she is the player that everyone wants on their team,” says Girls Assistant Director of Coaching Paul Dolinsky. “The best thing about Caterina is her commitment to constantly improving. She is as proud of her assists as she is of her own goals.”
“Caterina has all the potential in the world, and her all-around game has improved tremendously,” says SD Surf SC coach Mark Spooner. “As a soccer player, she has it all. And, she has a good head on her shoulders.”
Catarina seems to have made her decision on her soccer future. In 2012 she participated in the U.S. Soccer National Training Camp in Carson, Calf., and later joined the U.S. U14 Girls National Team. She is currently on the roster for the U.S. U15 team, and in January was part of the the 2014 Region IV 99 Cal South ODP team.
“To live here was a dream coming true because I love this country,” says Catarina in her ECNL profile, “although I was not born here.”
America is happy to have her.