When Kerri McGinley scored a goal off a rebound in the 66th minute of the Owls’ overtime win against Fairleigh Dickinson University, a weight was lifted off of her shoulders.
The junior forward, who set the all-time goals record at St. Basil Academy in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, found the back of the net for the first time in her college career during the team’s season opener on Aug. 18.
McGinley didn’t waste a lot of time scoring a follow-up goal either. She netted the Owls’ lone goal just three games later in the team’s 2-1 overtime loss to Lehigh University on Aug. 27. Through six games, McGinley is tied for the team lead with five points.
“Once I scored the first one, it gave me more confidence to be myself on the field again,” McGinley said. “[Coach Seamus O’Connor] keeps on telling me that he’s seeing the old Kerri back.”
After playing her freshman season in 2015 at Marist College, McGinley had second thoughts about playing a few hours away from home. McGinley chose to leave Poughkeepsie, New York and return home to Philadelphia by transferring to Temple.
McGinley played in 17 of Marist’s 20 games in 2015. A nagging high ankle sprain she suffered in practice just two days before the start of the 2016 season kept her out of all but nine games. The injury was an obstacle O’Connor said forced McGinley to participate in a smaller role than originally expected.
“Kerri would’ve been our best forward last year,” O’Connor said. “Unfortunately, even though she tried extremely hard to fight her way back, she couldn’t get back to her 100 percent fitness level last season.”
McGinley spent her summer rehabbing and doing workouts to avoid any possibility of not being at full strength for the start of the 2017 season. She is the fittest she has ever been, O’Connor said.
WOMEN’S SOCCER COACH
McGinley’s efforts to remain healthy and in shape date back to middle school, when she ran track in the offseason in preparation for fall soccer season. She was a year-round athlete, but her primary focus was always soccer.
“Kerri is very much the same person and player she was back then as she is now,” said junior defender Katie McCoy, who played club soccer with McGinley. “She has always been someone who runs through every ball and will knock anyone down.”
Starting in middle school and continuing until the end of high school, McCoy and McGinley were teammates on UGH Fevernova, a club soccer team based in Oakford, Pennsylvania. The two went separate ways for a season when McGinley went to Marist and McCoy went to Temple after they graduated high school.
When McCoy heard McGinley started to consider transferring, she immediately began to campaign for the longtime teammates to reunite.
“Our dads are really good friends with each other,” McCoy said. “As soon as I heard from my dad that Kerri wasn’t really into it at Marist, my first instinct was to tell her to come to Temple.”
“I was really pushing for it the whole time,” McCoy added. “Ultimately, I think she wanted to come to Temple anyway.”
Sure enough, when McGinley decided to leave Marist, the first coach she contacted was O’Connor.
“I think I really wanted to come home to Philly because I’m from here,” McGinley said. “I was on the fence about it at first but now I’m really happy at Temple.”