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Two teammates from Golden Valley boys soccer section championship team headed to UC Merced

Two key players from the Golden Valley High boys soccer back-to-back Sac-Joaquin Section championship teams are taking their talents across town and will be joining the UC Merced men’s soccer program.

Cougars goalie Manuel Zarco-Zarate and forward Carlos Miranda recently signed their national letters of intent to play for the Bobcats.

Zarco-Zarate was a four-year varsity starter in the cage and team captain, and Miranda was one of the top goal scorers in the country and was named the Central California Conference MVP as a senior.

Golden Valley High School senior goalie Manuel Zarco-Zarate holds up his national letter of intent he signed to play at UC Merced during a ceremony on Wednesday, May 29, 2024 at Golden Valley High School.
Golden Valley High School senior goalie Manuel Zarco-Zarate holds up his national letter of intent he signed to play at UC Merced during a ceremony on Wednesday, May 29, 2024 at Golden Valley High School.

“Manuel is a dedicated player, hard worker and smart at his position,” said Golden Valley coach Lance Eber. “He has a ton of experience and is a really good goalkeeper. Carlos is a great goal-scorer, super fast. He’s a player who wants to score every time he gets the ball.”

“Miranda set a school record with 46 goals this season, which ranked sixth in the nation and fourth in the state, according to MaxPreps.

Miranda can’t wait to continue his playing career at UC Merced.

“Oh man, I’m very excited,” Miranda said. “It’s a whole new level of playing soccer. I’m hoping to showcase my skills.”

Golden Valley senior Carlos Miranda (9) celebrates after scoring a goal against Rocklin during a Division 2 playoff game at Golden Valley High School in Merced, Calif., on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024. The Cougars beat the Thunder 3-0.
Golden Valley senior Carlos Miranda (9) celebrates after scoring a goal against Rocklin during a Division 2 playoff game at Golden Valley High School in Merced, Calif., on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024. The Cougars beat the Thunder 3-0.

Miranda plans to major in public health. He compiled a 3.3 GPA at Golden Valley.

Miranda is excited to work with the Bobcats coaching staff. He said it’s a big reason he chose UC Merced.

“It’s a great program and I really like the way they play,” Miranda said. “I feel it’s the right fit for me.”

Golden Valley High senior Carlos Miranda (9) tries to chase down a ball before it rolls out of bounds during the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II championship match against Delo Oro at Cosumnes River College in Sacramento, Calif. on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024.
Golden Valley High senior Carlos Miranda (9) tries to chase down a ball before it rolls out of bounds during the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II championship match against Delo Oro at Cosumnes River College in Sacramento, Calif. on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024.

Zarco-Zarate says it’s a dream come true to play soccer in college.

“This means a lot to me, especially coming form a low-income family,” Zarco-Zarate said. “There’s a lot on the table knowing that I can provide a lot. Being able to go to a UC and still being able to pursue my dreams, playing soccer, means a lot to me.”

Zarco-Zarate had a 4.1 GPA at Golden Valley and plans to major in electrical engineering and minor in mechanical engineering.

Zarco-Zarate says staying in Merced is special for him.

“Going far, although sometimes it could be a good thing, I feel like staying home is important to me, just because of the connections I have to Merced, the connections I have with the people from here,” he said. “I think it will help me a lot to continue playing here.”

Golden Valley High senior Manuel Zarco-Zarate (center ) signed his national letter of intent to play soccer at UC Merced. Here he is pictured with his mother Maria Zarate, father Paul Zarco and sister Nathalia Zarco-Zarate.
Golden Valley High senior Manuel Zarco-Zarate (center ) signed his national letter of intent to play soccer at UC Merced. Here he is pictured with his mother Maria Zarate, father Paul Zarco and sister Nathalia Zarco-Zarate.

They both said it helps making the transition to college with a friend and teammate.

“Carlos and I have always been pushing each other,” Zarco-Zarate said. “He’s always shooting against me and I’ve tried my best to save his shots. We’ve always had that connection and I think making this transition will help us grow together.”