MORGANTOWN — When an opportunity presents itself to join the best of the best, it’s really hard to pass up.
University High girls’ soccer player Maya Shetty had the chance to join the defending national champions at the next level — the Stanford Cardinal — and leaped at the chance.
“When they offered me a position, it was kind of a no-brainer,” she said April 11, at UHS, after signing her Letter of Intent.
Shetty knows all about winning titles. She helped the Hawks win a state championship as a junior, in 2016, and reach the title game again last season, as a senior.
She was named a first team all-state goalkeeper last season by the West Virginia High School Soccer Coaches Association and the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
But there is more to it than just joining the defending NCAA women’s soccer champion.
Stanford, located in Palo Alto, Calif., has been a dream school for Shetty since she was a little kid.
Stanford is 2,680 miles and a 38-hour car ride from Morgantown, and a five-hour, 20-minute flight (from Pittsburgh to San Jose, near the California coast) — easily the furthest destination of any area signee Wednesday.
But as we struggle to warm up this spring here, in the Appalachian Mountains, the weather in the West Coast is near perfect most of the time, a big selling point for Shetty she noticed while visiting the campus last spring.
“When I went out there last year, I loved it, and I love California,” she said. “It’s always warm there, so that’s one reason I wanted to go there, but they also have a good program there for what I want to study.”
That is one of the biggest aspects that made Stanford shine for Shetty. Considered one of the most highly regarded universities in the United States — No. 7 according to U.S. News and World Report — Stanford has one of the lowest admissions ratings in the country, at 5 percent.
Getting into Stanford isn’t easy for anyone, but Shetty, with some help from head coach Paul Ratcliffe, applied early and was deferred. She was later accepted during regular decision.
Shetty will major in biomedical engineering in hopes of doing pre-med and orthopedic surgery.
While a Stanford education can set Shetty up for the long haul post-college, she is joining a soccer program that is clearly built for success.
Ratcliffe is entering his 16th season as head coach and has won two national championships, the first coming in 2011. He’s reached four NCAA finals, won seven Pac-12 titles, played in seven College Cups and reached the NCAA third round in 11 of the last 12 seasons.
Ratcliffe has compiled a 275-49-27 record with the Cardinal.
“It’s just an amazing program,” Shetty said. “Everyone is really close and travels around together. I’m really excited to be there.”