She is only 14 years of age. But it speaks to the hockey and academic abilities of Ariella Merlino that the Sault Ste. Marie girl has already secured a Division 1, National Collegiate Athletic Association scholarship effective the 2022-2023 season.
An outstanding goalie who is playing a year early with the midget AA Sault Wildcats girls, Merlino has committed to a scholarship to attend prestigious Ivy League school Dartmouth College in 2022 and play for the Big Green of the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference.
The Big Green of Dartmouth are a women’s hockey powerhouse in the United States. The Dartmouth women have been in seven NCAA national tournaments since 2001 and have won four ECAC championships during that span.
Dartmouth College is located in Hanover, New Hampshire.
As for Merlino, the Grade 9 student at St. Mary’s College in Sault Ste. Marie is fresh from a recent trip to Dartmouth College, where she committed to the school effective the completion of graduating high school in three and a half years.
“It was absolutely amazing,” Merlino told Hockey News North of her visit to the New Hampshire school. “The environment reminded me of home and I loved it. I am super excited for this amazing experience to come. I would like to thank my entire family, teammates and coaches. I definitely would not be here without them.”
Mature well beyond her years, Merlino recalled a conversation with her parents, Jessica and Vince Merlino, shortly after making her recent, future commitment to Dartmouth.
“My parents warned me that this commitment would be a lot of pressure but I told them that I am not going to take it as pressure, rather I am going to take it as motivation. And that’s exactly what I’m doing to do,” said the level-headed young lady. “I have always known that I wanted to play Division 1 hockey and this school seems like the perfect fit.”
Before joining the girls with the Sault Wildcats as a bantam-aged goalie, Merlino was a star on boys teams, stopping pucks for the 2004 birth year Soo Greyhounds AAA program from the atom minor to the pee wee major levels.
Besides being a hockey player with a future Division 1 commitment, Merlino plays high school volleyball at St. Mary’s, where she is a student in the French Immersion program. She also trains locally with reputable athletic trainer Tyson Mount.
PHOTO: Ariella Merlino will pack up her hockey equipment for a future Division 1, NCAA hockey commitment at prestigious Dartmouth College. (Photo by Allana Plaunt.)