Ripon High senior Ariana Scholten fantasized about her future as she participated in a soccer camp at the scenic campus of University of San Diego during her sophomore year.
“Well, if you’ve ever seen the campus it’s gorgeous,” she said. “I thought, ‘I’d like to play here one day.’”
She’ll soon get the chance.
The Indians’ attacking midfielder/forward has signed with the Toreros of the West Coast Conference, where she is sure to see some top NCAA Division I competition including national power Santa Clara. Although her role is not yet set in stone, Scholten envisions herself as a striker. Fourth-year coach Louise Lieberman could use a player with a nose for the goal after USD scored just three goals while finishing 1-7-1 this past season.
Scholten looks forward to working for a coach who has served as an assistant for the U.S. Soccer Under-23 women’s team and UCLA. San Diego won eight games in each of its first three seasons under Lieberman.
Scholten hasn’t had a chance to visit the campus since that camp two years ago, but it wasn’t necessary to convince her to commit.
“It’s a beautiful school, but the one thing that really attracted me the most was Lou and her coaching staff,” she said. “They’re very supportive people. They obviously want good soccer players but they look for people first. They want you to bring light to their squad and leave the school as a better player and as a better person.
“They really care about your school, your values and your soccer life. I really appreciate that about them.”
Her plan is to major in pre-health science and further her studies in occupational or physical therapy. She’ll also minor in marine biology.
Since college coaches have been unable to scout prospects in person, Scholten worked with her club coach, Ron Benjamin of Placer United, to film training videos and send them out.
“Coach Lou reached out to me and said, ‘I’d like to talk to you about a future at San Diego,’” Scholten said. “At the time I was talking to another college but I was real happy when the opportunity with USD came up because that had been my dream school since my sophomore year.”
San Diego gets a proven winner at the club and high school levels in Scholten, who tallied 54 goals and 60 assists in her first three years at Ripon. A three-time All-Trans-Valley League selection, she led the Indians to two Sac-Joaquin Section Division V championships, two league titles and their first California Interscholastic Federation NorCal Regional final.
Scholten proved herself to be deadly on set pieces and in the run of play with powerful and laser-accurate striking on either foot. Her junior year, she focused on playmaking and racked up a team-high 26 assists.
This season, Ripon is playing an abbreviated schedule in the competitive Valley Oak League because of the coronavirus pandemic. With no postseason or league titles on the line, Scholten is glad to just have fun with her friends on the pitch.
“It’s nice to take a break from all the seriousness of comp and just enjoy yourself on the field while continuing to work on little things and perfect my play before I go to college,” Scholten said.