NEW PALESTINE — For the first time since they were 4 years old, sisters Meaghan and Danielle Matus will not be on the same soccer field when the season starts in a few weeks.
The Matus girls — who are triplets with their brother Stephen — played varsity soccer at New Palestine High School all four years. The girls, who are best friends, are heading off to different college teams this fall.
Meaghan, 18, will play for Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, a Division III school, while Danielle, 18, whose coming off a knee injury that kept her sidelined her senior season, has been invited to try out as a walk-on at the University of Indianapolis, a Division II team.
Saying goodbye to teammates happens at the end of every season, but in this case, the bond the two sisters have created by playing soccer together for more than 14 years will be hard to replace, they said.
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The girls have always been warm-up partners and part of the same team since they started in soccer. They played their final game together, in late June, as part of a travel soccer squad that won the state cup regional qualifier in the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championship Series in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Their team played in three games at Sioux Falls, winning the first one and losing the last two in highly-competitive 1-0 matchups, they said.
While the sisters didn’t want to view those games as being their last time on the same field together, when they walked off, they both got a little melancholy facing the reality.
“I’m definitely going to miss it,” Danielle said. “I’ve never not had to play a game without her.”
Danielle knows it will be different not seeing a familiar face on the field and trying to find a new practice partner.
Meaghan is looking forward to playing soccer in college, but she admits not having Danielle on the same team will be difficult.
“She’s the best defender I know,” Meaghan said. “I’ll be missing my passing partner, someone who knows I’m no good at juggling and knows how to deal with it.”
Meaghan missed not having Danielle on the field their senior year, but she was at least on the sidelines and at practice as she recovered. The two were thrilled to get to play on the same team again this summer before breaking up their long-time soccer partnership.
They are not only heading to different soccer programs, they are going in different directions off the field. Danielle will study nursing, while Meaghan has hopes of getting into the U.S. Air Force Academy after a year or two at Rose-Hulman.
She’s currently taking flying lessons and hopes to get her pilot’s license over the next few months.
On the field, Meaghan was selected All-State by the Indiana Coaches of Girls Sports Association her senior year when she had two goals and six assists. She was also a critical piece in the midfield for a Dragons team that went 10-4-1 and captured a share of the Hoosier Heritage Conference title.
She had 12 goals and 18 assists over her four-year career.
While Danielle didn’t get to play due to her injury her senior year, she was on the field encouraging her sister and team as the squad manager. Both players were instrumental parts of the Dragons’ squads, helping them reach a 14-4 record in 2015, their junior year, and a 14-5 mark in 2014, their sophomore year, following a 9-8 mark their freshman year.
While technically the girls could play one more summer of travel ball together next summer, they doubt it will happen since they both anticipate being part of their college team and focusing on their education.
Still, they will always be teammates and there for each other in the game of life, Meaghan said.
Their mother, Teresa Matus, expects the girls to have an adjustment period without each other on the field, but she describes her daughters as self-motivated to succeed and expects big things from them both on and off the field.