South Charlotte

Her goal is to put the ball in the net

The Covenant Day team celebrated recently after an overtime win over Charlotte Country Day.
The Covenant Day team celebrated recently after an overtime win over Charlotte Country Day.

When Alina McCue is playing soccer, she often thinks about this famous quote: “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”

Those words, once said by National Hockey League Hall of Famer, Wayne Gretzky, help McCue to focus on making the most of her opportunities.

For the last four seasons the Covenant Day junior forward has scored at a dizzying pace for the Lions. She has netted a school-record 111 goals in 78 games.

“To be a good goal scorer, you have to believe in yourself and in your abilities,” said McCue, who also is a standout on her Charlotte Soccer Academy club team. “I have always been blessed with an ability to score goals and it’s really hard to explain why. But there are a lot of little things, and a lot of hard work, that go into it. But first, you have to be confident when you get the opportunities that you believe it’s going go in the back of the net. You have to believe the next shot is going in.”

McCue, 17, says scoring goals never gets old. However, some goals mean more than others.

The biggest goal in her Covenant Day career came on April 14 against rival, Charlotte Country Day, when she scored the game-winning goal in overtime, to give her team a 3-2 victory.

McCue intercepted the ball from Country Day. Then she buried a 18-yard, no-doubter into the back of the net.

That goal gave McCue her 106th career score and set a new school recored for career goals.

“Scoring the record-breaking goal would have been great no matter how Alina did it,” said Covenant Day soccer coach, Graham West. “But, to break the school record on a game-winning goal in overtime against Charlotte Country Day was something I know she will never forget and I don’t think any of us will forget.”

McCue agrees.

“I had so much adrenaline and so many emotions, it’s hard to describe what I was feeling at that moment,” McCue said. “But the best part was being able to celebrate with my teammates in that moment. It’s one of those things you dream about happening...”

The next game, five days later at Cannon School, West and his team presented the game ball to McCue that she used to score the record-setting goal. It was signed by all of her teammates.

“To have a school-record with your name on it is an awesome feeling,” McCue said.

She also has the school-record for goals in a season, 51, which she posted as a freshman.

“I’ve always looked up to players that have their names in a lot of trophy cases, but I never imagined that I would be one of those players,” she said.

The Lions now stand 11-5-3 overall and 4-4-2 in CISAA competition. They also are ranked No. 6 in the state coaches’ poll.

While McCue plays a lead role, she has a lot of help. Seniors, Hannah Ertel and Lexi Hunkler (who both play forward with McCue), Claire Bellina (defender) and Emi LeNeave (midfielder) as well as junior, Madeline Coggins (midfielder) and sophomore, Anna Haynes (midfielder), all have played key roles at different times, West said.

McCue, who has 17 goals so far this season and her future on and off the field is bright.

She has committed to play soccer at Mercer University. She also holds a 4.8-plus grade-point average and plans on entering the school’s physician’s assistant program.

“Alina is so driven in everything she does, and one of the most competitive athletes you will find at the high school level in any sport,” West said. “She has very high expectations of herself. She sets goals and then goes out and achieves them. But then, she’s already focused on the next thing. I believe her best is still to come.”

McCue said “I’m looking forward to everything college has to offer. To have the opportunity to go to a great school and to be able to keep playing soccer is great. It’s hard to imagine my life without soccer.”

Jay Edwards is a freelance writer: