Story by Casey Baumberger
Photos by Joel Venzke
After a few switches in the starting lineup, including making redshirt freshman Darrin MacLeod the starting goalie, the team saw an improvement.
It finished the season with a 9-8-4 record. The entire team made progress throughout the season, but one player in particular made some major contributions: Darrin MacLeod.
MacLeod came onto the starting lineup midway through the season, playing his first game as goalkeeper against DePaul where he managed to defend the goal into double overtime, keeping the score at 0-0.
“Darrin and the previous starter were neck and neck for about six months. When the first few games didn’t go well for the team, I knew we needed to make a change,” said head coach Sean Holmes.
Holmes placed MacLeod in the starting position and received the improvement he had been hoping for. The team won the next four games.
“He’s very competitive. When he’s in the game, he’s extremely focused and concentrated on what is going on. He’s as close to mistake-free as you can be,” Holmes said. “He’s reliable and him and his teammates have excellent communication and chemistry.”
Communication is essential when it comes to soccer.
“He tells us anything from where to move to where someone on the other team is. He’s like a strict, grumpy guy when it comes to directions, which he needs to be, because as the other team gets near our goal, the room for errors shrinks. He communicates a lot with Alec Bartlett and I, and then we relay it to the rest of the team,” said centerback Austin Reutzel, who works closely with MacLeod.
“He keeps all of us accountable for our mistakes, and he’s always ready to make big-time saves when we need them,” Reutzel said. “He gets along great with everyone. Every once in a while, he’ll get a hard time about being Canadian, but our coach is usually there to back him up.”
MacLeod and Holmes are both Canada natives.
“We had some mutual friends,” Holmes said. “I myself am from Canada, and I knew that I would need a goalie once the current starter graduates. I was very impressed with his tape he sent in, so I took a gamble. Lucky for me, it was a good bet.”
MacLeod always knew he would come to the United States to play soccer because he would have a better shot at playing professionally.
“I played for Oakville SC from age 13-17 and then Toronto FC until I was 18. I trained with Newcastle when I was 11 and 13, and then I went to Sporting Lisbon at 13. I also played with Albionoleffe SC in Italy when I was 15,” MacLeod said.
Despite all of his international experience, he is unable to play in the European League because of a passport requirement.
“I love the game in the United States. It is different, though. Here in the U.S., the game is much more physical. Everywhere else, the game is more technical. It’s just a different environment,” MacLeod said.
MacLeod loves the entire game of soccer but does have a favorite aspect.
“I love being the hero,” MacLeod said. “I don’t mean that to sound cocky at all. It takes a lot of teamwork to do well in soccer, but I love being the goalie because if someone makes a mistake and the other team shoots at your goal, you get to be the hero and save your team.”