Wave add 15-year-old Barcenas, and DeMarco to roster

Credit: SD Wave

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Credit: SD Wave FC

With the San Diego Wave’s season beginning on Saturday, they’ve worked towards bolstering their roster in recent days.

Wake Forest midfielder Giovanna DeMarco joined the Wave, while 15-year-old Melanie Barcenas became the youngest player to sign with an NWSL team in league history.

Melanie Barcenas

Barcenas’ addition to the team was historic for a variety of reasons. She’s the youngest to sign in NWSL history, as she’s just 15 years and 138 days old. She’s also the first player to join the Wave through the league’s newly created Under-18 Entry mechanism. This allows each team to sign two underage players to the senior roster if they get the consent of their parent or guardian. It’s a three-year contract for Barcenas, who is a San Diego native. She’s been a part of USWNT U-14, U-15, and U-16 training camps while making the U-17 roster recently for matches against England. 

She’s a forward, one who has been deadly in her youth career. She had already signed a NIL deal with Nike in January of 2022. I know I am young, but the team and coaching staff have been amazing, and I look forward to learning from them every day as I continue to develop.”, said Barcenas, who will spend her entire youth career with the Wave. The opportunity to play and train with superstars Alex Morgan while matching up with elite defenders like Naomi Girma will be a fantastic one for Barcenas. 

Since she is so young, it’s unclear how long it’ll be before Barcenas is able to become a member of the lineup. Jaedyn Shaw received starts as a 17-year-old last season, so manager Casey Stoney clearly is willing to give opportunities to young players. She’s got three years in San Diego, so there will be plenty of time to develop for Barcenas. 

Giovanna DeMarco

DeMarco was selected with the 45th pick in the 2023 NWSL draft. She’d spent her previous five years starring in Wake Forest’s midfield. She signed a one-year deal, but she’s got an option that extends through the 2024 season. She made 69 starts and appeared in 74 games in college, scoring 11 goals in the process. She also added seven assists while receiving a variety of accolades. She was a three-time member of the All-ACC Academic team, while also making the ACC All-Freshman Team back in 2018. 

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She was a three-time team captain, helping to lead the Demon Deacons to the NCAA tournament three times in her tenure. They made the Round of 16 in her freshman year before making the tournament in each of the last two years. “Giovanna is a talented young player who will add depth to our roster following her collegiate career at Wake Forest.”, said Stoney. Her statement means that DeMarco won’t be a regular in the starting lineup, but she could play a role off the bench on a regular basis.

Both of these moves will not have a major impact on the season opener, but they become crucial in the future. Barcenas has immense potential, so she could become a fixture of the Wave’s attack for years to come. DeMarco’s depth could be critical in what will be a difficult and physical season that will have a month-long hiatus for the World Cup.

The Wave’s second NWSL season is just a handful of days away, as they seek to improve off their successful debut season.

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