Athletes are often perceived as existing outside of the student body. Their dedication to sport, rigorous training schedules, and time in the national spotlight frequently distance them from the general population. Yet, their stories go far beyond the jersey. On the field and off, they have aspirations, passions, hardships, and triumphs. Press Pass is a new series dedicated to bridging the gap between athletes and Superfans by exploring what it means to be an authentic member of the Boston College community.
McKenzie Meehan - Soccer
Program all-time leading goal scorer and point leader. All ACC-first team repeat. Two-time ACC leading goal scorer. Hermann Trophy (the Heisman trophy for college soccer) Watch List repeat.
These are honors that, granted, one would likely expect to feed into a bit of an arrogant disposition (and rightfully so), but it's a refreshing discovery when they are greeted with modesty and an attitude that highlights others ahead of oneself. Humble and reserved, redshirt senior Mckenzie Meehan walked into the Conte Forum media suite to discuss her time on the women’s soccer team with a demeanor so unassuming that she made it nearly impossible to associate her with the ruthless forward we see on the soccer field.
She’s the kind of athlete who will score the game-winning goal against a top-ranked team and then brush it off as nothing the next morning. Maybe it’s because the Rhode Island native—who boasted 181 career goals in high school—was no stranger to the back of the net before BC. Or maybe it’s because she embodies the BC motto: men and women for others, not for themselves.
Surprisingly enough, Meehan played various sports as a child and did not commit to soccer until the seventh grade when she joined her club soccer team, Scorpions. She played on the Massachusetts-based team with her twin sister, Madison, who would eventually join her on the field at BC five years later.
A native New-Englander, Meehan found Boston College a smooth transition from her hometown of Glocester, R.I. While she remembers not having a designated dream school, all signs pointed towards BC, the top soccer program in the state of Massachusetts. Having her only sibling sign up for another four years of action together didn’t hurt the decision either.
“Having Madison is like having someone you can always trust. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. She played defense, but if she was going for a ball I would know if she would get there and I know she’d be looking for me on offense.”
The competitive, gritty atmosphere of Meehan’s club soccer experience ignited her competitive nature. This mindset, combined with her committed work ethic, led Meehan to dream of playing soccer at the college level, for those willing to work hardest for it.
“I played on a team with 22 girls—we were all very competitive. No starting spot was guaranteed, and every game you had to prove yourself and work to earn your spot.”
On a visit to BC during her sophomore year of high school, Meehan recognized the same competitive nature while sitting in on a winter practice in the bubble. The quiet, shy newcomer knew she was going to have to work to prove herself once again in the collegiate sphere—a challenge that she would gladly take on.
“It was really competitive. I realized it was something I would have to work towards to be able to play. I knew it wasn’t something where I would be able to show up and immediately make an impact. I would have to work towards it and be challenged.”
Despite any initial intimidation, the redshirt senior—who led La Salle Academy to four state titles and also led the country in individual goals her senior year of high school (80)—seamlessly carried her competitive spirit to BC as she began her freshman season. In Meehan’s opening campaign, she ranked third on the team in scoring with nine goals and 18 points.
Her sophomore season, however, would turn out to be her breakout chapter. Meehan led the Eagles and the ACC in goals and game-winning goals, with a single-season program record of 20 goals, nine of which were game-winners.
When asked about what fuels all those those balls to the back of the net, Meehan asserted that “competition drives me. I never want to waste an opportunity.”
But all things came to a halt when Meehan tore her achilles at the end of her sophomore season. Unexpectedly, the injury was the result of an off-the-field mishap, when a shard of glass cut her foot at home. Forced to miss her junior season, the determined player deemed red-shirting a no-brainer.
In her comeback season, Meehan was back on the map just where she left off, leading the ACC and the Eagles once again in goals scored (17) while playing and starting in all 20 games. Though the stats might say otherwise, the road to recovery was anything but easy.
“It took some time the first season back. It was a lot to go from not playing for a year, and it took half of the season to really feel like myself again.”
Coming back for her senior season this fall, however, Meehan emerged with full-force. This was her season. The culmination of Meehan’s spectacular tenure spoke for itself in an ultimate statement on September 22. In a home game against Pitt, Meehan threw herself on the end of a Gaby Carreiro cross for a diving header, getting the goal and breaking the program record for the all-time leading point scorer with 118 points. The moment came as icing on the cake after Meehan became the program's all-time leading goal scorer against the same team last fall with her 40th goal.
“I don’t think I expected the goal to happen that way. I remember seeing the ball go wide to Gaby and then I saw an opening in the back post and made a run that way and I just decided to dive for it. It was definitely a really exciting moment, and kind of a relief in some ways to know that I had broken the record and didn’t have to have it looming in the back of my mind.”
Meehan’s record-breaking goal is a prime example of her style of play. She’s the kind of player coaches dream of—the one who will run on the end of every loose ball, who will sprint the extra 10 yards in the 89th minute to create that opportunity in the attack. She goes the extra mile, every time. Maybe that’s why she also holds the program record for the most game-winning goals scored at 18.
Coming back for her fifth year as a seasoned veteran, Meehan brought with her leadership qualities a team with 12 freshmen needs, especially during a four-game winless drought.
“I have the experience of being in this position before and I know what to expect at this time of the year. The ability to stay calm under pressure can help encourage some of the younger players.” These “younger players” include a starting lineup of four to five freshmen every kickoff.
“We started [the season] off hot and had a long win streak despite this drought. But, the positive to these losses is that we’ve been creating opportunities and we are outshooting some of the teams even if we’re losing, so we really need to capitalize on those opportunities. The morale is fairly positive; we know that we are capable of winning these games.”
The Eagles snapped their losing-streak Thursday night, capping off the regular season at 11-7-1 with an over-time win against Syracuse. All eyes are now on the postseason and Meehan will lead the charge.
Echoing head coach Alison Foley’s sentiments, Meehan claims, “We just need to want it more than the other teams. At this point in the ACC, everyone is fighting for something. We just need to match that energy and the desire.”
Meehan will be completing her MBA this December, and while she’s not certain of her exact plans following this season, she was sure about one thing when coming back.
“I wanted to help lead the team to the best season we’ve had. I want to make the most of these last few games. I want to make the most of what is left.”
Immediately after soccer ended last fall, Meehan had an aspiration to run the Boston Marathon. Her motivation, however, was different from most runners. Rather than run for personal self-gain, she ran to honor her father, John, who passed away from leukemia two years ago. In the process, Meehan raised thousands for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and kept her father’s legacy alive.
Mckenzie Meehan is that selfless player, on and off the field, that we all aspire to be.