By Michael Bower
For nine months out of the year, Tara Meier is an aggressive, ball-swiping defender that is closely watched and coveted by Division I college recruiters.
But those other three months — December through February — the Rancho Bernardo High junior transforms into a different player. She becomes one of the most feared, goal-seeking midfielders in the Palomar League.
“It is a pretty big mind change,” said Meier, who is heading into her fifth year playing with the San Diego Surf Club. “Club is more of a serious time to focus on college and stuff. High school, I get to play with my school friends. I can get more creative.”
Meier, who turns 17 on Friday, plays outside defender for the San Diego Surf and is already getting looks from schools such as USD, Loyola Marymount University and Dartmouth. She plays midfielder for the Broncos and is already piling up the goals.
Last week, Meier posted her second hat trick of the season in Rancho Bernardo’s 3-0 win over Valhalla. That puts her at seven goals through just eight games this season.
For her efforts, Meier is the Pomerado News Athlete of the Week.
“It feels great to be off to a fast start,” said Meier, who carries around a 3.50 GPA. “My teammates are finding me a lot more this year so it is easier to get shots off. They make it easy for me.”
Meier had just eight goals all last season for the Broncos, which struggled to find the back of the net. Capitalizing on opportunities has been one of the main focuses for this year’s squad.
“I remember last year we would have 15 shots in a game and none of them would be on goal,” Meier said. “So we have been looking to shoot on frame and it has helped me and my teammates a lot.”
Meier has been playing soccer since she was 6 years old. She made an instant connection with the sport and decided to dedicate the entire year, every year, to playing it.
“I just clicked with soccer right from the beginning,” she said. “I never tried other sports. I always wanted to play volleyball, but it never worked with soccer. Club soccer just takes up so much of my time.”
Meier and the Broncos will get some time off for the winter break. Rancho Bernardo’s last game was Dec. 19 and its next game is not until Jan. 7 against Bishop’s.
The Broncos are currently 2-3-3, but have high hopes after reaching the San Diego Section Division I semifinals last year.
“We have all agreed that we want to try to win league and go on to CIF,” Meier said. “Hopefully we can get to the semis and win and get to the finals this year.”