Temple or Pittsburgh: those were the only two options freshman soccer standout Jared Martinelli ever truly considered when making his college choice. In the end, he said it wasn’t all that hard a decision.
“I definitely got a better feel for Temple,” Martinelli said. “I liked the coaches and the school. I just liked everything about it.”
Martinelli, a product of Cumberland Valley High School located in Mechanicsburg, Pa., scored 67 goals in his high school career. He erupted his junior year, tallying 31 goals and dishing out 12 assists. His senior year numbers were almost identical, recording 32 goals and 11 assists.
Martinelli’s high school production earned him Mid-Penn Conference Player of the Year in both 2010 and 2011. He was also named Pennsylvania All State in those two years. In 2010, he was tabbed an ESPN RISE All Star.
Coach David MacWilliams is relying on Martinelli to provide an offensive boost this year in his first season. However, he admits it may take some time for him to adjust to Division I soccer.
“It’s a lot more physical at the Division I level,” MacWilliams said. “Like there is with most players, I think there’s going to be a transition period.”
Martinelli sees things a little differently. In the season opener against Virginia Tech on Aug. 31, he found himself already inserted into the starting lineup. The freshman said he feels the pressure to produce immediately for the Owls.
“I want to score some goals and create good teamwork,” Martinelli said. “I just want to make things happen out on the field.”
Martinelli nearly did just that in his first regular season action in a Temple uniform, during each of the Owls’ first two games of 2012.
In the 73rd minute against the Hokies, he sent a ball into the box from the right side, setting up a one-timer for redshirt sophomore Charles “Chas” Wilson. However, the shot was stopped by Virginia Tech’s junior goalkeeper Kyle Renfro. Martinelli played 75 minutes and recorded three shots, none of which landed on goal. The Owls went on to lose the opener 1-0.
In a rugged battle against James Madison, Martinelli almost carried the Owls to an overtime win in their second game of the season on Sept. 2. In the 96th minute, Martinelli drilled the post before gathering the rebound and missing wide. The game went into double overtime before ultimately ending in a draw.
This weekend may have been just a glimpse of what’s to come for the promising freshman, and while his prolific goal scoring abilities are no secret, MacWilliams acknowledges that Martinelli is more than a one-dimensional player.
“He’s a good distributor of the ball,” MacWilliams said. “He has an overall great feel for the game.”
Like most collegiate athletes, Martinelli started playing soccer at a very early age. As is also the case with many athletes, he credits a particular family member for the passion he holds for the game.
“My dad loves soccer,” Martinelli said. “He’s always motivated me to play.”
Even before his breakout junior season in high school, Martinelli saw himself as a Division I soccer player. Growing up, he also played baseball and even experimented with basketball to a much lesser extent. However, during his sophomore year at Cumberland Valley, he found his niche.
“I just started to find myself progressing as a soccer player,” Martinelli said. “I kind of thought at that point that I would be able to play [Division I] someday.”
Other than Temple and Pittsburgh, Martinelli also drew offers from Penn State, Akron, Clemson and Virginia.
“We’re excited to have him,” MacWilliams said. “I think he’s going to help us a lot — both this year and for years to come.”
Tyler Sablich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @tysablich.