Stars align in next chapter for four MHS soccer teammates who commit to play at Lindenwood

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Photo by Hunter Robinson

The four Mehlville soccer players signing at Lindenwood.

By Lucas Irizarry, Staff Reporter

New NCAA Division 1 school Lindenwood will add four Mehlville High School players to its soccer team next season after they all signed May 9.

Seniors Nico Catarinicchia, Dino Mahmutovic, Meldin Sabotic and Anis Smajlovic made the decision to sign at the university after its recent addition to the Ohio Valley Conference in Division 1.

The group’s intent wasn’t originally to all attend the same school, but as Mahmutovic described the situation “All the stars aligned together.”

“They went D-1 and a lot of our dreams were to go D-1,” Mahmutovic said. “They gave us all really good offers and it was just a ‘Why not?’ scenario.”

Outside of the perks of Division 1, the players will have a chance to room together while staying close to home. The four are rooming in a suite with each other and a friend from Affton High School.

“I think we’re excited about the fact that we’re going to be together, having fun again and the soccer part is just an added bonus,” Sabotic said.

MHS is coming off of one of its most successful seasons in history after finishing 18-2-1 and advancing to the state quarterfinals. Mahmutovic said the season ended too soon, but now a large group of seniors will have a chance to continue succeeding together at Lindenwood.

Mehlville coach Tom Harper said it’s rare to find one high school player who is Division 1 ready, but finding four from the same team is special.

“To have one is an accomplishment, to have four is unheard of, and to have four from the same team go to the same program is unique,” Harper said. “It’s special for them and it’s special for us because thankfully they get to stay close and we’re going to get to watch them grow and develop.”

Harper said the pressures of college soccer can get to players, but to have a large group of players you trust can make the process easier. 

The MHS players make up around half of the new recruits at Lindenwood, with Sabotic’s cousin and other players the group knows making up some of the roster. The group is already in contact with team captains and workouts are expected to take place over the summer.