McLay sets records, looks to future

Senior goalkeeper Alex McLay has become one of the best goalkeepers in UNA history, breaking all categories in goalkeeping.

For UNA senior elementary education major and goalie for the UNA women’s soccer team Alex McLay, 21, aggression and energy fuel her love for soccer-a passion she’s had since early childhood.

“I started playing when I was three,” she said. “My parents signed me up because I had excessive amounts of energy.”

McLay grew up in Naples, Fla., playing soccer throughout high school. When the time to go to college came, she headed north to UNA.

“What really attracted me (to UNA) was that (head soccer coach Graham Winkworth) was building the program from the ground up,” she said. “I was one of 14 new freshmen. I also liked (Winkworth) and the campus.”

McLay said any success the soccer team has had in her time at UNA has been a team effort.

Her freshman year was the team’s first winning season, and her sophomore year was the first year the team had ever qualified for the Gulf South Conference tournament.

The team also beat soccer powerhouse West Florida for the first time in UNA history last week, ending the Florida team’s 55-game winning streak.

“The thing I love about playing goalie is how aggressive you get to be,” McLay said. “As a goalkeeper, you can pretty much tackle people.”

McLay started out as a forward when she was younger, but she slowly transitioned into her goalkeeping position.

“I was a forward until I was 11, but soon my coaches started noticing I was good at (goalkeeping),” she said. “They started putting me in the goal, and it got more exciting for me.”

But soccer hasn’t always been easy for McLay.

“I had a terrible attitude sophomore year and would have let myself quit if it hadn’t been for the support from my friends,” she said. “The attitude has turned to regret as I’ve matured.”

McLay plans to play for the Atlanta Silverbacks, a semi-professional team, this summer. She hopes to continue to play for semi-pro and pro teams in the future because talent is often scouted for World Cup teams at pro games, and because she loves playing.

Now, McLay is excited about her future plans and the possibilities they hold.

“I really don’t know what I’m going to do,” she said. “I guess my ultimate goal would be to play for the World Cup.”

Coaching might be a part of McLay’s future.

“I can see myself coaching eventually,” she said. “But, for now, I’m just focused on playing.”

McLay said she believes anything-athletic or otherwise-is doable with hard work.

“The biggest lesson I’ve learned playing soccer is that perseverance makes anything possible,” she said.