Sewickley Academy grad steps into action for Duke women's soccer
Former Sewickley Academy soccer standout Mackenzie Coles considers herself lucky.
Turned down by one school, she found an opening at another and landed on one of the top women's soccer teams in the country.
Coles, 18, of Pine was invited to walk on as a freshman at Duke after Vanderbilt, her first choice, did not accept her.
Blue Devils coach Robbie Church said Coles was recruited, almost sight unseen, in the spring to replace a backup goalkeeper who is playing with a U20 national team and redshirting this season.
The Blue Devils were NCAA runner-up to Penn State last fall and rank second in the country so far this season.
“(We knew) she was a good student very interested in Duke,” Church said of Coles.
Coles played more than 12 minutes in the Blue Devils' season opener, a 6-0 exhibition win over Missouri Aug. 11.
She was in the game for close to 15 minutes in a 9-1 victory over Wofford as part of the Carolina Nike Classic Aug. 19, at Chapel Hill, N.C.
“She's a good athlete and hard worker (who is) getting used to the speed of play and the hard balls shot at her,” Church said.
Coles, who is 5-foot-7, agreed moving to NCAA Division I has been an adjustment, especially coming from a small high school.
She said she needs to stay consistent, and improve her footwork and ball distribution.
Coles said first-string goalkeeper EJ Proctor has been “phenomenal” in mentoring her.
A junior from Wilson, N.C., Proctor started all 25 matches last season and was the NCAA College Cup Most Outstanding Player on Defense in the national championship tournament.
“She makes sure I'm included,” Coles said, adding the rest of the squad also has embraced her.
Coles posted seven shutouts in both her junior and senior seasons at Sewickley Academy.
She helped the Panthers to four WPIAL Class A playoff appearances in her career.
Undecided about a major, she hopes to attend law school later.
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.