Inside the life of Marquette’s sophomore goalie

Women's soccer sophomore goalkeeper Mel McNamara will be fighting for the starting role this upcoming season. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Women’s soccer sophomore goalkeeper Mel McNamara will be fighting for the starting role this upcoming season. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

On the field soccer goalies might come off as intimidating, but sophomore Mel McNamara has hobbies like anyone else.

“I really like building Lego sets, I mean they’re so cool,” McNamara said. “Over quarantine my mom got me three huge car Lego sets.” 

McNamara spent most of her time completing Aston Martin, Range Rover, and Bugatti Lego sets during her free time away from school and working out on her own. Although most kids decided to watch Netflix or bake, McNamara stayed with her childhood roots and kept busy with her Legos.

Along with the love of Legos starting when she was really young, the Bethesda, Maryland native said the love for soccer came at a really young age. 

“I was probably like four or five. My kindergarten class started a rec team and my parents were like ‘oh why not,'” McNamara said.

Although McNamara started playing when she was very young, it was not until further down the road that she noticed soccer was something she excelled at and could take to the next level.

“(In) sixth or seventh grade, that’s when I realized ‘Hey I really like this,’ and ‘I guess I have the ability to go play in college,'” McNamara said. “I just really wanted to see myself play on TV.”

From there, McNamara not only succeeded with her club team, Maryland United FC, but also with her high school, The Academy of the Holy Cross. During her career, McNamara earned all-conference all four years, and received all-state and the Washington Post All-Met during her sophomore year.

Throughout her years as a soccer player, McNamara has embraced the family aspect and takes team chemistry very seriously, redshirt first-year goalkeeper Mikki Easter said.

“I would describe Mel as someone who values the family environment that we have on our team,” Easter said. “She is someone who can make anyone laugh at any time.”

On the field, McNamara strives to be the best goalie she can be, and she tries to add to the chemistry of the defensive unit as a whole. Off the field, she is also pretty talented when it comes to video games. 

“Something that people may not know about Mel is that she is a beast at Grand Theft Auto,” Easter said.

It is no surprise that McNamara rocks the Grand Theft Auto courses, because of her love for cars. Especially with all the time she had in her house over the last few months, McNamara was able to brush up on her skills with her twin brother, who according to Easter, has a very close relationship with Mel. 

Along with her love for cars, McNamara has succumbed to the Maryland stereotype of being obsessed with Old Bay. 

“I also find her obsession/lifestyle with Old Bay seasoning pretty interesting.” Easter mentioned. 

Although Easter did not say how much Old Bay McNamara truly uses, natives will put it on crabs, fries, wings and will even go as far as eating Old Bay flavored gum. Although the use is primarily for crabs, Marylanders have adopted a whole new use for the ingredient.

Being from Maryland, McNamara had to adapt to being far away, but the move to the Midwest has been a fun experience for the sophomore goalie.

“I wanted to get super far away from home. My minimum distance was eight hours. I’ve been in Maryland my whole life and I just wanted a change of scenery,” McNamara said. “I really like it, and being far from home makes it cool.”

Even though she already lived close to Washington D.C, getting to adventure around another city has been a really nice exposure to what the rest of the country has to offer, especially since she was not aware of Wisconsin’s location. 

“I’m from like right outside of D.C. So it’s nice to have like another like kind of big city, I’ve never been to Wisconsin until I came out here for one of my visits,” McNamara said, “I literally did not know where Wisconsin was on the map until I started applying to Marquette, but I really like it, it’s a lot different from Maryland.”

Coming into her second season, McNamara is hoping that she can help lead the team to more wins than last year, and also hopes that she can improve her consistency. She was able to improve a lot of her skills last year under goalie Maddie Henry.

“She (Henry) was a very consistent player, and she was very commanding on the field,” McNamara said. “She knew what she wanted and she knew what she wanted the other girls to do.”

McNamara also mentioned that she was happy to have a player like Henry to play behind in order to see how she could improve her game and take her skills to the next level.

“I really liked her commanding presence,” McNamara said. “She was a force on the field and a force off of the field. She was a good person to have in front of me and to look up to.”

Assistant coach Erin Scott is also pleased to see McNamara in a Marquette jersey. Scott said that she already has a great first impression of McNamara, even with the restrictions they faced while away from campus.

“She has a great personality. She cares a lot about the people in her life. She’s big on family, which I think is great,” Scott said. “She is one of those people that takes it how it is and that’s what’s great about her, but I would say one of her greatest qualities is how much she cares about people.”

Scott was a collegiate goalie at both Creighton and Campbell University, so having that experience can be really rewarding for a young player like McNamara.

Scott touched on what kinds of skills and tactics are extremely important and valuable to the position, and how she is implementing them into McNamara’s game.

“Speaking from experience, goalkeeping is a matter of details, and I tried to hone in on that as much as possible,” Scott said. “Then we can go and build on how they (McNamara, Easter, and Schill) can best do that and how they can be the most efficient, not only for themselves, but for their team around them.” 

Since practice resumed this week, McNamara is ready to work for a starting position on the field.

This story was written by Kristin Parisi. She can be reached at kristin.parisi@marquette.edu or on Twitter @kristinparisimu.