DAVIS, Calif. —
The UC Davis women's soccer team has signed five high school standouts to National Letters of Intent to continue their academic and athletic careers with the Aggies, Head Coach Twila Kaufman
announced on Friday.
Local product Yasmeen Dmeiri from nearby Davis Senior HS is joined by Walnut Creek, Calif., native Reese Mercado, and a trio from Southern California in Clarissa Garjeda (Camarillo, Calif.), Brianna Guerra (Anaheim, Calif.), and Mirai Hayakawa (Irvine, Calif.). All five student-athletes will have four years of eligibility remaining beginning with the 2019-20 season.
"We are really excited about this class. Rachael, Alyssa and Marcelo Antonelli all have done a great job in assisting me in identifying the right people with the right skill set to compliment the current group of players we have," Kaufman said. "More importantly, we all feel confident that these are the right people to represent our soccer program and the University."
Brief bios on each of the signees are below.
UC Davis wrapped up one of its most successful Division I seasons to date, finishing with a 7-8-4 overall record and a 4-2-2 mark in Big West Conference play — advancing to the semifinals of the conference tournament for the first time since 2011 and finishing with the most points (14) in the league standings in school history.
International relations major Mahlah Catline
became the first Aggie to earn All-Big West first team honors since 2013 to headline a group of five student-athletes honored by the league, as materials science and engineering major Alexis Smith
became the program's first-ever four-time All-Big West honoree with her second-team selection, biological sciences majors Kristie Braken-Guelke
(her second) and Ari Zamora
(her first), earned all-league second team and honorable mention honors, respectively, and newcomer Margot Ridgeway
was named to the conference's all-freshman team.
YASMEEN DMEIRI (5-4, D/M, Davis, Calif. / Davis HS '19, Davis Legacy)
Entering her senior season at Davis Senior HS, just down the street from the university… Also was a member of the track and field team as a junior and ran cross country as a freshman… Has helped the Blue Devils to three consecutive Delta League titles and three CIF Sac-Joaquin Section titles in her high school career… Parents are Issa and Jessiely… Has three siblings: Naji, Zayn, and Jaleel… Intends to major in neurobiology, physiology, and behavior at UC Davis, with possible minors in business and Spanish… Has spent the last 10 years with the Davis Legacy Soccer Club… Spent time in Lyon, France, training with 15-time French champions Olympique Lyonnais via the Generation Adidas International Select Program… Is Vice President of "Second Touch Soccer," a group committed to helping spread the sport by collecting and distributing new or gently used soccer gear to children around the world.
Head Coach Twila Kaufman: "Yaz is very special. She is the type that, kind of, sits back and watches, makes a plan, goes after than plan in a very unassuming and understated way and then shows up in critical moments big time. She is reliable and trustworthy to all the tasks required of her on the pitch. She is the same way in her academic and personal life. She has a heart of gold. I am really proud to have my first hometown athlete be Yazmeen and I am really proud that she chose us."
Yasmeen Dmeiri: "I knew UC Davis was the perfect fit for me because I felt a great energy and connection with the coaches and team. I love the vision and goals of the women's soccer program and I'm very excited to be part of such a dedicated team. I look forward to playing for Davis and representing my hometown."
CLARISSA GRAJEDA (5-8, GK, Camarillo, Calif. / Rancho Campana HS '19, LA Premier FC Academy)
Played one season of high school soccer and ran track at Rio Mesa HS, but focused her efforts mainly with her LA Premier FC Academy team… Member of the US Youth Soccer Region IV Olympic Development Program… Team captain for her club team… Member of the Cal-South ODP… Four-year member of the honor roll and President of the Hispanic Heritage Club… Parents are Jose and Veronica… Has two siblings: Kristina and Alessandro.
Head Coach Twila Kaufman: "Clarissa, is a good goalkeeper who both the United States and Mexico have looked at for future play. She is courageous and very good off her line. She understands hard work and is a servant leader everywhere she goes. She is the first-ever athlete to sign an NLI from Rancho Campana High School. She is a trailblazer. Whether her studies lead her to become a doctor, or a leader in social justice, or both, we know that she will continue to open doors for herself and those around her."
Clarissa Grajeda: "I knew from the very first time I stepped on campus that UC Davis was the perfect fit for me. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to continue to make history with this amazing program."
BRIANNA GUERRA (5-4, M/D, Anaheim, Calif. / Villa Park HS '19, LAFC Slammers)
Entering her senior season at Villa Park HS in Orange County… Has helped lead the Spartans to a pair of second-place Crestview League finishes as a freshman and sophomore… Two-time All-Crestview League second team selection as a freshman and sophomore… Finished with eight goals and 18 assists as a freshman, scoring 11 more as a sophomore… Also played softball and volleyball for the Spartans… Parents are Martin Guerra and April Garcia… Has four siblings: Brittany, Benjamin, Lexandra, and Leonardo… Played club soccer for the LAFC Slammers, winning one league title and finishing as high as fourth at nationals.
Head Coach Twila Kaufman: "Brianna is a very versatile player who can play anywhere in the back six. For me personally, it is a really neat thing that Bri was trained and mentored by a former club mate of mine in Lindsey Huie prior to moving to the Slammers. She knows the game well and she likes hard work. We think she is going to both make an immediate impact and keep getting better."
Brianna Guerra: "Deciding to commit to Davis was definitely the best decision ever! The team is so welcoming and the vibes are always great. The coaching staff was a huge part of why I committed. Twila, Alyssa, and Rachel were incredibly kind, helpful and easy to talk to. So blessed to officially be an Aggie!"
MIRAI HAYAKAWA (5-5, D, Irvine, Calif. / Irvine HS '19, LAFC Slammers)
Entering her third varsity season with the Vaqueros… Earned All-Pacific Coast League first team honors as a sophomore and was named the team's offensive MVP… Was an All-Pacific Coast League second team selection as a freshman, while earning team offensive MVP laurels… Played club soccer for the San Diego Surf from 2014-18, helping the team to a ECNL Finals appearance in 2015, and back-to-back ECNL league titles in 2015-16… Parents are Takeshi and Akemi… Has an older sibling, Kenta… Three-year member of the Principal's Honor Roll at Irvine HS… Intends to major in animal science at UC Davis.
Head Coach Twila Kaufman: "Mirai can play with both feet and can play anywhere in the wides as well as center back. She is quiet by nature but very loud in the way she plays. She is silky-smooth with the ball at her feet. Our current team is really going to enjoy playing with her because of the quality of her final pass."
Mirai Hayakawa: "I am so grateful and excited that I get to play the sport that I love at my dream school. The coaching staff has always been so kind and understanding, the team is full of sweet, supportive girls, and the campus itself is beautiful. The program is determined to make history, and I cannot wait to be a part of it. Go Ags!"
REESE MERCADO (5-8, D, Walnut Creek, Calif. / Las Lomas HS '19, Lamorinda SC)
Played her freshman season for Las Lomas HS before concentrating her efforts with the Lamorinda SC… Helped the Knights to an 18-1-5 overall record and the school's first North Coast Section title as a freshman… Honorable Mention all-league selection as a freshman… Member of the Olympic Development Program who has helped her club to NorCal Premier League and Surf Cup titles, as well as a regional championship in 2017… Parents are Michael and Maria… Has two brothers, Miles and Roman… Father played football at Saint Mary's… Intends to major in neurobiology, physiology, and behavior at UC Davis.
Head Coach Twila Kaufman: "Reese is a play-making center back from a very strong possession based team. We look forward to the calm she brings on the ball. She will help us develop more and more play out of the back."
Reese Mercado: "UC Davis has always been one of my top choices of schools to attend for college. It is amazing academically and will help me grow into the intellectual person I aspire to be. I never thought I would also be able to play the game I love there. The only thing to make it even more of a dream, is how amazing the coaches are. Each of them believe in you and want to help you become the player they know you can be, but will push you to your max in order to get you there. The women's soccer team has been getting better each year, but I believe it will be one of the best soccer programs in the country, and it will be an honor to be a part of building that program."
2018 UC DAVIS WOMEN'S SOCCER EARLY SIGNEES
Name (Height, Position, Hometown / Previous School, Club Team)
Yasmeen Dmeiri (5-4, D/M, Davis, Calif. / Davis HS '19, Davis Legacy)
Clarissa Grajeda (5-8, GK, Camarillo, Calif. / Rancho Campana HS '19, LA Premier FC Academy)
Brianna Guerra (5-4, M/D, Anaheim, Calif. / Villa Park HS '19, LAFC Slammers)
Mirai Hayakawa (5-5, D, Irvine, Calif. / Irvine HS '19, LAFC Slammers)
Reese Mercado (5-8, D, Walnut Creek, Calif. / Las Lomas HS '19, Lamorinda SC)
ABOUT UC DAVIS
Providing a small-town community feel while providing a world-class academic experience, UC Davis is home to more than 37,000 students and centrally located between San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, and the Napa Valley. The No. 5-ranked public university in the nation according to the Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education, and among the top 10 public universities nationwide according to U.S. News and World Report, UC Davis offers nearly 100 graduate programs and more than 100 academic majors across four colleges and six professional schools, ranking among the world and nation's best in numerous disciplines, including veterinary science, agriculture, and plant and animal programs.
Launched in 2017-18, the Aggie EVO System is UC Davis Athletics' investment in the primary mission of preparing student-athletes for a successful "launch" after graduation. Thanks to a collaboration of alumni, university resources, corporate partners, coaches and Student-Athlete Outcomes staff, all Aggies are guided over four years to acquire the skills, knowledge, opportunities and tools to better know and navigate the "World of Work" after graduating from UC Davis. Follow the Aggie EVO system on Twitter and Instagram at @AggieEVO.