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Loud and clear in any language

01/02/2013, 9:52pm PST
By Glae Thien, Special to the U-T

Pacific Ridge goal scorer speaks English, Serbian, Spanish and Chinese


Pacific Ridge senior Voja Maric contributed 37 goals and 14 assists last season as the Firebirds captured the San Diego Section Division V championship.

— Whether in the classroom or on the soccer field, Voja Maric has had many goals as a member of the first class to attend Pacific Ridge School from the seventh to the 12th grade.

Notably, Maric has learned a fourth language, Chinese, and has participated in the Science Olympiad and robotics. In boys soccer, he’s been a prolific scorer who helped lead the Firebirds to their first San Diego Section Division V championship last season.

With Maric contributing 37 goals and 14 assists, Pacific Ridge (17-1-3) went unbeaten a year ago until an opening-round loss in the Southern California Regional playoffs.

“Once I scored my first goal, there was a sensation that you can’t express at all,” said Maric, who originally played defense in youth soccer. “It’s just utter joy. I like to tell people that there’s such as thing as striker’s complex. There’s so much to score a goal, and once you do, you can be a hero.”

As a prelude to last season, Maric had 27 goals and six assists as a sophomore when the Firebirds first reached the section Division V finals.

“Voja’s very quick, and he’s a true forward, who has a nose for the goal,” Pacific Ridge coach David Boyett said. “Now, he’s a second-year captain for us, so he brings leadership out there that’s fantastic.”

Maric first played two seasons at Pacific Ridge with his older brother, Ivan, now a sophomore at Cal, where he competes in club soccer.

The family roots are in Serbia, the homeland of both parents. While Voja was born in this country, he notes his international background has helped in learning languages.

“I was basically born bilingual,” said, Maric, whose overall grade-point average exceeds 4.0. “I already knew two languages (at an early age). So learning languages is something that I enjoy and comes naturally to me.”

Along with completing advanced placement Spanish, Maric studied Chinese for three years in part to connect with friends with Asian backgrounds.

Maric also played classical music on the piano until high school. Since then he can sense a link between performing in piano recitals and competing in soccer.

“Piano has taught me to handle pressure well,” Maric said. “I had to perform before judges and a lot of people, so I had to learn to keep my composure. That’s helped me. When soccer coaches see me play at first, they say that I have a lot of composure.”

In last year’s section finals, Maric scored both goals for the Firebirds in a 2-2 tie with Borrego Springs through regulation play and overtime. They eventually prevailed on penalty kicks.

Maric plans to attend Pomona College to study neuroscience and play on the soccer team that has been a national force in Division III.

But first there’s the matter of further building a winning tradition at Pacific Ridge. With their entire starting lineup back this season, the Firebirds (3-6) are playing an upgraded schedule while preparing to defend their section title.

“It’d be hard for me to score more than last year,” said Maric, who opened with five goals in the first five games. “It was just a goal-scoring frenzy. If we continue to produce results and play well as a team, that’s more important.”

For Maric, that’s another key goal.

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