WOMEN'S SOCCER: Scoring Is An Old Habit For Eagles’ Sophomore Forward
McKenzie Meehan Is Having A Breakout Year For The BC Women’s Soccer Team
Published: Thursday, September 19, 2013
Updated: Thursday, September 19, 2013 01:09
For someone who scored 80 goals in 22 games and led the nation in scoring her senior year of high school, McKenzie Meehan’s athletic career began in a somewhat surprisingly ordinary manner. There were no blessings from Pele, magical cleats, or wishes made on shooting stars. Instead, like millions of people across the country, Meehan started out by just playing local sports.
“I played mostly all sports when I was little, like basketball, soccer, softball, and then soccer was the one I decided to stick with,” Meehan said.
Growing up in Smithfield, R.I., regardless of the sport Meehan was playing, her twin sister Madison was right there with her.
“We were always on the same team and everything, and we both liked soccer the most, but we never really decided until, like, middle school that it was soccer over basketball,” Meehan said.
About 14 years have passed since Meehan started kicking around a soccer ball. These days, at Boston College, she’s still playing alongside her sister, and her journey has been anything but ordinary.
“There is no other like McKenzie Meehan,” said La Salle Academy soccer coach Lindsay Longval. “There really isn’t. I mean, she scores goals but she creates things on the field, and she makes the players around her better players.”
Meehan had an astonishing four-year high school career at La Salle, scoring 180 goals, and winning four state championships. In her 80-goal senior campaign, the 5-foot-5 forward had 16 hat tricks in 22 games. Among her enormous collection of high school accolades were two Rhode Island Gatorade Player of the Year Awards, and three inclusions on the Rhode Island All-State first team.
“It’s only fair for me to talk about the state of Rhode Island,” Longval said, “but I would have to say that she is in an elite group of players that were playing in high school.
“I think that she’s a role model even now for my current players who even played with her, but now they watch where she’s at and what she’s doing and it’s something for them all to continue to aspire to.”
In addition to high school soccer, the Meehan sisters played together on the Scorpions Soccer Club and won the Massachusetts State Cup in 2009, 2010, and 2011.
Now, less than halfway through her sophomore season at BC, Meehan is building on her nine-goal freshman season and her experience playing with the U.S. Under-20 National Team in Spain last March. In six games this year, Meehan has found the net six times, four of which were game-winning goals.
“The opportunities are just coming at the right time and I’ve been able to take advantage of them so far, and before the Hofstra game we talked a lot about combining and ever since then it’s been much better passing the ball and getting everyone good opportunities on goal,” Meehan said.
Against Pittsburgh last week, Meehan sustained a concussion after colliding with the goalkeeper, and was forced to sit out the Eagles’ most recent game, a 2-1 loss to Clemson.
“The concussion on Thursday was the first time I’ve ever really been hurt,” Meehan said.
“That was the first game I’ve missed. So that was just kind of scary because I couldn’t remember anything right away.”
To the relief of head coach Alison Foley, Meehan was cleared to play on Tuesday, and will be back for the Eagles’ Thursday night game against the University of Virginia.
“[Meehan] is probably one of the most opportunistic players we’ve ever had in my 17 years at BC,” Foley said.
“There’s a lot of busy forwards who are doing a lot of work, but maybe they don’t have the production that comes out of it. McKenzie’s sort of just the opposite. She’s hard working, but she’s efficient with everything she does.”
In addition to her work ethic and positional awareness, Foley pointed out two technical attributes that help make Meehan so lethal in front of the net.
“She’s left and right footed, and when you have a forward that can score with both feet, it automatically puts the defender in two minds, you don’t know if she’s going to take you on the left or take you on the right.”
The other trait is her impressive shooting release.
“For a forward, if your movements are loping or big, they’re easily defended, and hers aren’t. Hers are efficient and her leg swing is just out of nothing, all of a sudden she’s striking a ball. “
With 12 games left in the regular season, Meehan is focused on winning and helping the team advance.
“We definitely want to make the ACC playoffs and the NCAAs, and we lost in the second round last year so we want to do even better than that this year,” Meehan said.
“Personally I just want to keep improving, score as many goals as I can, and just keep getting better.”
If the past is anything to go by, she won’t have a problem.