By TIM BIRNEY
Valley Sports Report
WAVERLY — Waverly senior Melina Ortiz added one final entry on a long list of accomplishments in her high school playing career Tuesday, signing a national letter-of-intent to play Division I soccer at Siena College in a ceremony here in the learning commons at Waverly High School.
Ortiz helped Waverly to three straight Section IV, Class B title appearances, before finishing her career this fall in a loss in the Class B semifinals. She scored 60 goals and dished out 45 assists during her five-year varsity career.
Waverly girls soccer coach Tara Hogan, who played Division I soccer at St. Bonaventure, believes Ortiz will fit right in at Siena College.
“Melina’s been at that caliber for years,” she said. “She was my first 8th-grader to test up to varsity. I remember her coming out to the first practice and I was like ‘nothing special here,’ then she started running circles around the other girls, was super-confident, and so much fun to watch.
“From my experience at St. Bonaventure, and the caliber of players I’ve seen throughout my years, she’s there. Melina is the total package — she has the work ethic, and will mesh easily with other players.
“She’s the kind of player coaches want. She’s smart, receptive, and incredibly versatile. I could literally put her in any position on the field,” added Hogan. “I’m super-excited for her.”
(PUBLISHER’S NOTE: This story was originally posted on Valley Sports Report on Aug. 29, 2018.)
WAVERLY — Waverly’s Melina Ortiz will continue her soccer career at the highest level after verbally committing to play Division I soccer at Siena College beginning in the fall of 2020.
Ortiz visited Siena early in the recruiting process and she said it became a measuring stick for other colleges.
"I looked at schools for a really for a really long time, but it seemed every school I looked at I just ended up comparing them with Siena," she said. "It became clear that Siena was the best fit for me and what I wanted.
"And, I love the coach, and I love the campus - it's a beautiful campus," added Ortiz.
The Waverly standout said she narrowed her decision to four schools at the end.
"I visited quite a few schools, I don't think I could list them all," she laughed. "My top four were (Siena), Xavier University, Lehigh, and St. Bonaventure, so it made my decision very difficult.
"They were all really good schools. I met every coach and I liked all the coaches a lot.
"At the end of the day, Siena just had everything the others schools had, plus a little more," Ortiz added.
Ortiz also noted she received a sage piece of advice years ago from a former coach.
"When I was younger, a coach told me when I was looking at schools I had to consider if I was injured and couldn't play soccer, would I still be happy there?
"I knew if I went to Siena I would still be happy, no matter whether I'm playing soccer or not," she said.
While she has shined in the high school ranks since 8th-grade, Ortiz also has an extensive history in premier travel soccer.
"I've had coaches who have been phenomenal in preparing me for the recruiting process," she said. "They prepared me to talk to colleges, and know what I'm looking for in colleges.
"Of course, the competition that comes with traveling all over has been extremely helpful," noted Ortiz. "It's pushed me to become the best player I can be.
"It's led me to a lot of great opportunities, and it's allowed me to be seen by a lot of great coaches," added Ortiz. "That's how I was recruited by Siena, through my travel team."
She and her premier teammates have enjoyed great success, and nearly all will play at the next level.
"The majority of my BC United teammates will playing at Division I schools," said Ortiz. "There are a few girls who will play elsewhere for academic reasons."
An all-star midfielder at Waverly, Ortiz has primarily been a defender for BC United.
"The (Siena) coach is telling me he sees me more as an outside defender, but you never know I could go up there and end up playing forward," she said. "It's all about where the coach needs you, and how you can adjust."
Ortiz's experience with premier soccer will help the adjustment to Division I, but she knows she still has work to do.
"I think the biggest thing will be getting use to playing competitive all the time," she said. "And, I'll definitely need to work on strength and my all-around game.
"A lot of the adjustment will be mental," noted Ortiz. "I'll have to prepare myself for not always being one of the best players on the team, and not always starting, which will be a little different. But, it comes when you're playing at that level."
Siena College was 4-11-4 in 2019.
Ortiz will major in Political Science with the intent to attend Law School after Siena.
IN PHOTO 1: Waverly’s Melina Ortiz. IN PHOTO 2: From left: Shelly Ortiz (grandmother), Linda Ortiz (mother), Melina Ortiz, Dan Ortiz (father), Ed Ortiz (grandfather). … PHOTOS BY TIM BIRNEY.
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