Staying a Bulldog

Although she is a senior at Burbank High, Melanie Fielder will remain a Bulldog for a few more years.

A standout club girls’ soccer player who is about to begin her fourth season on the varsity squad, Fielder has already made her college choice.

She has made a commitment to Drake University, a Division I school in Des Moines, Iowa. Coincidently, Drake’s mascot is also the Bulldogs.

“Drake even has the same blue and white colors as Burbank,” Fielder said. “So, I guess I can hold on to all my Bulldogs stuff.”

Fielder is believed to be the first female soccer player from the school to earn a Division I scholarship.

“Earning a Division I scholarship is something I’ve wanted to do since I started playing soccer when I was 5 years old,” said Fielder, who competes for the Santa Clarita United club team. “I’m really looking forward to playing in college.”

Fielder is also looking forward to her senior season with Burbank. Last season, the Bulldogs (13-2-5) qualified for the CIF Southern Section playoffs for the first time in program history. The squad placed third in the Pacific League with an 8-1-5 record and was in contention for the league championship up until the last week of the season.

Playing sweeper, Fielder was a consistent presence in the middle last season.

This season, she moves to stopper, her more natural position.

“We moved her to sweeper last season because we really needed her there,” Burbank Coach Loi Phan said. “But stopper is where she plays for her club team, and she’s very tough at that position.

“We know by having her at that position she is going to make the other girls around her better.”

After her senior season, Fielder will join a Drake team that has enjoyed its share of success in recent years.

This past season, the Bulldogs went 7-10-2 and advanced to the Missouri Valley Conference semifinals, losing to Illinois State, 3-2, on Nov. 9. Two seasons ago, Drake won the conference tournament.

Under Coach Corbin Stone, Drake has been able to thrive. Stone, who earned conference coach-of-the-year honors in 2003, 2004, 2005, has led the program to a record four MVC regular-season titles.

Drake appeared in the championship game of the MVC tournament in 2004 and 2005, and won the 2006 tournament, earning a berth in the 2006 NCAA Tournament.

Stone has led Drake to a 64-43-13 record.

Phan said he has no doubt that Fielder will be able to adapt to the collegiate game.

“She has the attitude that an athlete needs to do well in college,” Phan said. “And physically, she has what it takes to play at that level. Put that together with all of her experience, and I think she will do fine.”

Fielder said she expects to feel right at home in the Drake program.

“I went to the school and played with some of the other players in front of the coach,” she said. “I think I fit in pretty good in the program.”

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