Peyton and Eli Manning, Venus and Serena Williams, Marc and Pau Gasol. Throughout the recent history of professional sports, there has been a bevy of award-winning sibling duos within their respective leagues.
While certainly not accruing the same amount of fame, defensemen Jarod and Zack Matteoni have made their marks playing soccer. Yet unlike these superstar duos, the Matteonis play for the same team – an integral part of the Chapman men’s soccer program. Their love for the game began separately at the recreational level, which continued into middle school as their two-year age difference became apparent; Jarod is a senior and Zack is a sophomore.
However, in high school at Bellarmine College Preparatory – one of the most highly touted boys’ soccer programs in Northern California – they had the chance to play together on varsity for two seasons.
“Being able to watch him growing up gives me a lot of confidence on the field,” Jarod said. “I know what his strengths are and what he’s capable of.”
Although they had spent their entire lives perfecting their crafts on the soccer field, the likelihood of them playing for the same college was miniscule. Yet a decision by the younger Matteoni sealed the chance of them roaming a college soccer pitch together.
“When I was applying for college, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to play soccer,” Zack said. “Chapman was one of my higher choices and at the last minute, after talking to the coach I decided to go for it.”
Go for it they have, but it hasn’t always been easy. The two will occasionally try to get under the other’s skin as siblings often do. But it’s not to discourage each other; rather it serves as a form of motivation to continue pushing one another when they play.
“Jarod is very loud on the field, so he yells at me a lot,” Zack said. “Off the field, as his little brother, I just know how to push his buttons and get him angry with snide comments.”
Nonetheless, the two make sure to look out for one another, particularly in a brother-relational context. During a victory last season, the two found themselves on the field together to close out the game. With time winding down in the contest, Zack held possession of the ball. To seal the win, he decided to kick the ball downfield in order to run out the clock – but to his surprise, an opposing player came out of nowhere and blindsided him. Yet quickly by his side, giving his support, was Jarod.
“One of their forwards came in and took a cheap shot, so my brother came right up to him and confronted him,” Zack said. “He asked him, ‘Hey, what do you think you’re doing?’”
In addition to looking out for him on the field, Jarod fills an older brother’s role by helping Zack in other facets of the game, making sure the younger sibling had everything he needs to achieve success.
“When he was a freshman last year, I mainly tried to make sure he understood what the coaches wanted from him at the position,” Jarod said. “I gave him advice on how to approach the practices and games, but it was nice to have him around after being away from home for two years.”
The two are glad they’re able to roam Wilson Field in Panther uniforms for one final season. Even in their short two years on the team together, the Matteoni brothers have amassed a wealth of memories they can reflect on and smile at – like winning the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship in 2018.
“Winning the league tournament together, playing defense together, was awesome,” Zack said. “I’m glad I got to do that with him.”