When asked to describe freshman standout Katie MacGinnitie in one word, head coach Billy Lesesne laughed at the idea of only having one word to describe such an athlete, but preceded by calling her an “opportunist.”
“I think she understands space well and she kind of plays in the moment,” Lesesne said. “There is also an understanding of the game and when the ball goes wide finding yourself in the right place at the right time.”
On the other hand, Marion Crowder believes “fierce” is the best word to describe MacGinnitie.
“She has a way of being able to turn it up another gear,” Crowder said. “She has an attitude about her that is very bold and very fierce as a competitor, both on and off the field.
MacGinnitie is fresh off representing the Concord Fire and her alma mater, Marist High School where she led the War Eagles to three-straight championship appearances, taking home the hardware twice. During her time at Marist, MacGinnitie became a four-year letterman in soccer while also being named to the Student-Athlete Leadership Team in 2015 achieving Honor Roll in 2015 and 2016.
The transition from high school to college athletics is never easy and usually takes some time for the athlete to adjust to the change of pace. MacGinnitie is one of the few exceptions; she came in and has been a difference maker for the team since day one.
However, MacGinnitie will be the first to tell you that she would not be where she is if it was not for Crowder.
“She’s been there to look out for me and just make sure I’m making the right runs and my fitness level was there,” MacGinnitie said. “If I do something wrong, she’s always there to correct me and make sure that I get better.”
For Crowder, this was an opportunity she’s glad she got to experience. When Crowder was a freshman one of her upperclassman teammate’s, Nikki Hill, did the same thing for her and made sure her transition to the collegiate level was smooth.
“I see [Katie] as a potential leader,” Crowder said. “I’ve loved having her hang around me. We are a family and we want to see everyone succeed.”
The freshman followed up her illustrious high school career by becoming the youngest player on the team to score a goal this season.
A rather flashy start to a young athletes’ college career quickly came to an end as MacGinnitie was faced with her first test of adversity after an arm injury early in the season.
The magnitude of the injury forced MacGinnitie to go in for surgery and miss five weeks of the season.
“Unfortunately, when she was playing pretty well she had that broken wrist,” Lesesne said. “That’s a physical setback and it’s also a mental one. Coming back from that after being out for five weeks or so in the heart of the season it’s difficult to kind of pick things up again.”
Conversely, MacGinnitie did not let this injury ruin her season, instead she has returned and has helped the team match last season’s win total by picking up their first two conference wins of the season.
At the end of the year, Crowder is hoping her guidance has led MacGinnitie to realize that she has the ability to leave a legacy here far greater than soccer. She has the ability to become a leader on this team and take this team to new heights.
“You have the ability to build a program here,” Crowder said. “I’m excited to see what she is gonna do throughout her career.”
According to coach Lesesne, MacGinnitie has lived up to all of his expectations of her and he is just hoping that her next three years here at Georgia are injury free.
“She’s still casted and padded as she goes out to play and obviously that’s a distraction for her, but I really do think her best soccer is certainly ahead of her,” Lesesne said.
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