Goshen soccer program continues to grow under first year head coach

Published 6:59 pm Wednesday, March 4, 2020

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Alexandria McLendon has been in love with soccer since since she was a young child. After years of playing the sport, McLendon now has the opportunity to enjoy the game as a coach. Late last week, McLendon helped lead the Eagle soccer program to their first win.

Goshen played in just three games in year one. Three years later, they picked up their first win last Wednesday against Pike Road, 5-3.

When McLendon arrived in Goshen, her first goal was to field a full roster and increase the amount of players on the team.

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“We have done a good job at recruiting as many players as possible,” McLendon said. “We have a full roster and then some. That’s what I wanted when I came in. I wanted to get kids more involved in the program. We did a good job at getting kids interested in coming out and playing.”

McLendon started playing soccer when she was just 11 years old and she started watching it when she was much younger. Because of her love for the game, McLendon hopes to get others to both love and respect the game of soccer.

“It was a big goal of mine to have these people fall in love with the sport like I have,” McLendon said. “We are not necessarily worried about wins. We want to make the kids fall in love with the sport, understand the sport and have respect for it. That will translate into wins. When the kids care about it, when they are there enjoying it and the people they are around, they are going to do better.”

The love of the sport comes from her father Doug McLendon who has coached at the recreation level and has tremendous success. McLendon is a first-year coach and teacher at Goshen. When McLendon got the chance to coach, she jumped on the opportunity.

“I played for the parks and recreation department by entire childhood,” McLendon said. “I come from a family of soccer players and coaches. When I did my interview at Goshen they asked me what kind of extra curricular activities I do, I mentioned soccer and they asked if I was interested in helping. It’s been a really fun experience. I have never been a head coach before. It’s been fun to step in a different role.”

McLendon is a first-year head coach and many of her players are learning the game for the first time as well.

“A lot of them have never seen the sport played before,” McLendon said. “The biggest test for them is trying to get them to think about the game as a contact sport and a reaction sport. It’s a strategy game. I encouraged them to watch the game because soccer is kind of hard to grasp until you have watched the game being played. One of things I harped on was get together, watch the game, look up videos and try to find a team you like.”

When the team hits the pitch for practice or for a game, McLendon is trying to get the players to think about performing well off the ball as much as on the ball.

“Your movement off the ball is just as important as on the ball,” McLendon said. “We are trying to encourage them to truly understand the game. The touches will come later.”

The game of soccer continues to grow in popularity in this country. McLendon hopes it continues to grow at Goshen.

“The mindset around soccer in this town has not always been high,” McLendon said. “When we started to get the kids more involved the moral  changed. When we practice we are not going to run (a lot). We are going to make it structured but fun so we can change the mentality around soccer. We have seen complete change. We are having a culture shift here in Goshen and for someone who has always loved the game, it’s been fun to see.”

McLendon and the Eagles travel to New Brockton on Thursday to take on the Gamecocks.—