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Spartans College bound

Boys' soccer: Meeker, Canatta and Bagramyan will all play for Division I programs.

February 09, 2011|By Andrew Shortall, andrew.shortall@latimes.com

Aram Bagramyan, Matt Canatta and Cameron Meeker stood on La Cañada High soccer field pondering what their futures will be playing on the NCAA Division I level.

All three players, integral parts to the La Cañada boys' soccer team, have committed to Division I institutions.

Bagramyan has signed with Long Island University, Meeker — the reigning All-Area Player of the Year — has made a verbal commitment to Sacramento State, and Canatta — an All-Area first-team selection last year — has made a verbal commitment to the University of Hartford. Meeker and Canatta plan to officially sign a letter of intent once the paperwork arrives the next few weeks.

"All three of our teams are the top of their conferences, and I think all of us could definitely get to the NCAA tournament," Bagramyan said.

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After playing soccer together for years, the three Spartans' dream of possibly squaring off against each other in college some day.

"That'd be fun to see each other [at the NCAA tournament]," Meeker said.

Not everything went as planned for Canatta and Bagramyan, who grew up dreaming of playing on the same team in college. They both toured Long Island University together, but in the end, parting ways was inevitable because Hartford just felt right to Canatta.

"It's really how you feel when you get there. I felt really welcomed and I just want to be there," he said.

Meeker and Bagramyan echoed Canatta's sentiments, saying it was the feel of the college and the people associated with their respective universities that led them to their decisions.

Canatta and Meeker, a talented forward duo, are keys to La Cañada's high-powered offense. Canatta has a team-high 55 points (20 goals and 15 assists) and Meeker isn't far behind with 54 (20 goals, 14 assists). Bagramyan, a defender, has five assists and a goal so far this season.

Each player found a school that is good fit for them, and each has plenty to offer at the next level, said La Cañada Coach Barry Ritson, who has coached all three players for nearly five years.

"[Bagramyan] can attack and defend," Ritson said. "He's got a great engine, gets up and down the field and is courageous. He'll have some challenges when he plays at the next level that I'm sure he'll embrace and work hard at."

Both Canatta and Meeker are athletes who can make an immediate impact in college, Ritson said.

"If you're struggling to get a goal and you need that little bit of spark, you have a young, exciting freshman [in Canatta]. He'll come off the bench and contribute in his first year," he said.

Ritson said Meeker has his share of positive attributes, and the coach thinks he will also do will at the next level.

"He's a big, strong kid that makes it stick. He brings other kids into the play and scores his fair share of goals," Ritson said.

Ritson hopes he's made the transition from high school to college easy for his players.

"When the college coaches get them, I want them to say these kids are being coached well, they work hard and they can contribute," Ritson said. "If they can say that, then I've done my job. Now it's up to the boys to go to the next level."

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