McCool a natural scorer - now

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Springside Chestnut Hill soccer player Meghan McCool. (David Swanson/Staff Photographer)

It might seem unbelievable now, but Meghan McCool used to be a goalie.

It wasn't just one time in practice or for a whole half of soccer, but for about eight years.

There are pictures of McCool, now 17, when she was just 4, wearing a different-colored shirt from her teammates and standing in front of a pop-up, portable Pugg net.

McCool continued to play in goal until the second half of her first game for her travel club, Penn Fusion. With the team up by 2-0, her coach decided to put her out on the field.

McCool proceeded to score six goals. From that point on, she has been a forward, leaving the oversize gloves behind.

"I don't even know how it happened. It was weird," McCool said. "I'm glad I switched, though. It was a good move."

Now a junior for Springside Chestnut Hill (7-2-1), McCool has made scoring goals a habit. She netted 28 as a freshman, earning Most Valuable Player honors in the Inter-Ac League that year. But she suffered a setback when torn ligaments in her left ankle made her unavailable for most of last season.

McCool, who has committed to the University of Virginia, has come back from her injury and continued to find the back of the net almost effortlessly.

In the first 10 games of the season, she scored 27 times for Springside Chestnut Hill. In seven of the games, she scored more than one goal.

Extremely quick, McCool easily brushes by defenders who underestimate her speed. At 5-foot-7, she is also strong on the ball and has gotten technically better - something she attributes to after-practice training sessions with first-year coach John Westfield and time spent at Total Soccer in Warminster with Ryan Hayward.

Scoring goals isn't the only thing McCool does well for the Blue Devils, however. She recently has thrived in a distributor's role.

"She just trusts not only her own abilities but the players around her," Westfield said. "She doesn't have to score all the goals. She knows she's going to be the focal point and people are always going to key in on her. She uses that to open up other avenues."

Westfield called McCool "the face of the program, and the two to three defenders who mark her each game seem to support the assertion.

Together, McCool and the coach are the face of a changing culture at Springside Chestnut Hill, one where the drills are more intense and productive and the level of competition is higher.

"Her play speaks for itself - the way she scores goals and finishes," Westfield said. "She's pretty much indescribable for me."

Westfield added that no matter which position his captain played on the field, her level of productivity would remain high.

Except for goalie. She stopped doing that a long time ago.

 


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