New UCLA recruit Megan Edelman is making good use of her time during the shelter in place.

New UCLA recruit Megan Edelman is making good use of her time during the shelter in place.

By Matt Schwab

Special to Mustang Soccer

Not surprisingly, Megan Edelman is making good use of her time during the shelter in place.

The Mustang ECNL and Monte Vista High soccer star was seemingly born to be a step ahead.

“I don’t mind this whole quarantine, I know others will say otherwise, because I felt like it was a good opportunity, especially right before college, to get super fit,” Edelman said this week.

She is preparing to soon join her new teammates at Pac-12 power UCLA as a signee with the Bruins. UCLA earned a No. 2 seed in 2019 NCAA Division I tournament and advanced to the College Cup.

One big downer during the shutdown, however, has been missing out on school activities. Top athletes like Edelman will always make time to train and stay sharp, but they can’t replicate the high-school spirit shared by students on campus.

“I for sure miss that a lot,” Edelman said of school activities. “We had Senior Ball coming up at the end of April, when it was supposed to happen, and I had to return my dress and everything. I was kind of sad missing out on it and not getting a chance to dress up and do the senior rallies … I was also going to do track for my last season of high school and so I didn’t get to participate in that.”

But it hasn’t all been bad. The ability to work out on her own, with input from a strength trainer and her dad and No.1 fan, Daron, has allowed the small, but mighty Edelman to hone her focus. She has trained a bit with two male soccer friends from Stanford and Mustang teammate Julia Leontini, a future Cardinal.

Edelman, who is 5-feet-2, knows it will take a heavy lift to thrive at the next level. Her competitive nature comes from within.

“I’m really small, and so it’s obviously hard playing against players that are 5, 6 inches taller than me on the soccer field,” she explains. “I have to be strong and competitive, otherwise I’m just going to get pushed off the ball. That has been one of the biggest things for me, being competitive, strong, like when I go into tackles or even getting up in the air against girls that are taller than me.

“In college, it’s going to be super hard because all of the girls are already a lot bigger and stronger than me and have been lifting weights for three years longer than me and they’ve developed a lot more than I have,” she continued, “so I’m just hoping to go into college and be super competitive and try my best obviously.”

No doubt, Edelman has the whole package as a student-athlete: Great player, top student, tremendous teammate. She has even devoted time to training two 12-year-old Mustang Soccer boys twins, one is in the Silver Division, the other the Bronze.

Mustang girls’ ECNL director Mike Kelley, who has coached Edelman since she was 12 years old, raves of her versatility as a goal scorer and field player who shines both on the attack and on defense.

“She always had something a little different in terms of her competitive nature,” Kelley said. “Her dad always said since she was 3-4 years old, she always wanted to be active and just couldn’t help herself.”

During a sensational high school career, Edelman spurred Monte Vista to two East Bay Athletic League titles and as many North Coast Section and CIF Northern California Division I championships. She is a four-time All-EBAL first-team selection, four-time NCS Scholar Athlete and four-time All-NCS team pick, as well as the 2020 Cal-Hi Sports Player of the Year, among other accolades.

Monte Vista coach Chris Lum can’t say enough good things about Edelman, who did not miss a single practice or game in four years on the varsity, participating in nearly 100 contests overall. She makes “any environment she touches a better place to be,” he shares.

“Although she is one of the most ferocious, talented and accomplished competitors I have ever seen, Megan is equally humble and understated,” Lum states of his senior captain who had 20 goals and seven assists last season. “Her powerful charisma and contagious enthusiasm for both soccer life defined the team culture for four years.”

Moreover, Edelman helped some impressively talented and deep Mustang Soccer ECNL teams to two national Final Fours, one Elite Eight, and a Gothia Cup championship. Along the way, she always played up an age level in the club. 

“Dynamic, tough, not afraid of anything and ultracompetitive, that’s one thing that’s gonna to help her at the next level playing at UCLA,” Kelley says of Edelman.

Edelman has long had a close relationship with her dad, who grew up as a soccer player in Southern California. 

“It was big for my dad to have a kid that loved soccer,” she said. “He’s been a really big part of my life. He comes to every single one of my games and he just loves being out there.”

Also cheering her on are Megan’s mom Kristin and older sister Lauren, a running enthusiast studying nursing at Boston College. Megan’s Mustang soccer family has also played a vital role in her development. Being picked on the top team when she was a year younger than her teammates “helped me improve a ton,” she says.

“Everyone was so supportive. There was no one that ever put me down,” she says of the competitive experience. “… I still talk to them every single day; because they’re all older, they’re already at college, and then obviously Mike (Kelley). He was a lot of help getting me recruited to college because he’s been my coach for six years now.”

So, it’s onward and upward for Edelman – she seems ready for the bigtime.

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