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Catarina Macario: Believe the Hype

Stanford, CA - December 8, 2019: Catarina Macario at Avaya Stadium. The Stanford Cardinal won their 3rd National Championship, defeating the UNC Tar Heels 5-4 in PKs after the teams drew at 0-0.

The scouting report on Catarina Macario is this: she can do everything.

Just last week, in one 24 hr period, Macario both became a U.S. citizen and was called into her first senior national team camp.

On the field, she’s an even more prolific multitasker. In 24 of her 68 appearances for Stanford, Macario has recorded at least a goal and an assist. Twice, she has scored a hat trick. Macario is an Academic All American and two-time National Champion. She has won the Hermann Trophy the last two years in a row, a claim only four other women can make.

In 2019, Macario scored more points in an NCAA season than all but two players in history — Mia Hamm and Christine Sinclair.

Her first two seasons on the Farm she played the nine to perfection. Last year, an abundance of attacking options made it opportune to slide Macario into the midfield. She responded with 32 goals and 23 assists.

Last season was also her healthiest year. She was fit heading into preseason and it showed from the first game through the national championship, her second in three years.

At Stanford, she was recognized with the Al Masters Award in 2020, the highest honor recognizing athletics, leadership and academics.

A player with Macario’s brilliance makes everyone around her better by definition. The attention she commands of a defense automatically frees up teammates. Her effect transcends that mark by leaps and bounds. She is adored in the locker room, including by former Stanford teammate and potential future national team teammate Tierna Davidson.

Her story has been told beautifully before. Like many other girls, especially in Latin America, she looked up to a brother who played soccer. In São Luís, in the Brazilian state of Maranhão, Macario honed her skills playing with boys. When she was seven, the family moved to Brasilia so her mother could practice surgery. At age 12, Macario’s star grew too big, and she, her father, and her brother left her mother behind to move to San Diego and play with the Surf.

While the transition to the national stage will be closely monitored, as everyone looks for flaws in “the next great player,” Macario has so far met and exceeded each new challenge.

First with the San Diego Surf, then with Stanford, she has contributed immediately and meaningfully, including goals in her first seven collegiate games. And in limited time playing with the U-23’s against NWSL competition, she has continued to dominate.

USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski appears confident that Macario will be eligible to play for his side by the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. Given that Olympic rosters are only 18 deep, Macario would likely be displacing a more-established World Cup winner were she to make the team.

But if she can continue to produce highlights like these against the top level of competition, the bigger controversy might be leaving her at home.