A soccer goalie usually has a unique bond with his/her defensive teammates. They are a close-knit group of players whose ultimate achievement is keeping the opponent’s ball out of their own net for a total of 90 long minutes. No two defenders do it much better together these days than Heritage’s goalie — Megan McCarthy and close friend, center defense man — Makenlee Mabra.
This “M&M” duo is a large part of Heritage’s Lady Jags success in the sport of soccer at their local high school in Midlothian. During their four years at MHHS, they have both lettered all four years on the varsity team. Most recently, Megan marked her 100th high school games played on January 21, against Arlington Martin. Her defensive counterpart — Makenlee Mabra — played in her 100th on February 4, against Waxahachie Life School.
After Tuesday’s games, Megan has played in 108 games and Makenlee in 104.
Heritage’s girls’ head soccer coach Gerald Slovacek comments, “Reaching 100 varsity games is not an easy task. It takes talent, perseverance, and the ability to fight through injury and stay on the pitch. These girls have done this, and join a small club of former Heritage Girls Soccer players to accomplish this: Kayla Aston, Grace Hackney, and Grayce Davis. This elite group of girls are a special part of what we have accomplished as a program since we began five seasons ago.”
Coach Slovacek adds, “Makenlee and Megan have been a tremendous asset to our team the past three plus years. In this program, it is not easy to play on the varsity all four years, and their special talents, toughness and dedication have made them a special part of this team. These two girls have grown with the program and helped the program set high standards for those to come in the future. They have become leaders on the field, in the school and community.”
Megan McCarthy — Senior goalie
Coach Slovacek describes Megan as “fearless, hardworking, motivated.”
Megan has been has been involved in the sport of soccer since the age of four. She relays, “I always liked to play with sports balls instead of other toys. And from that, my love for the soccer ball grew. Soccer is my favorite sport because I truly enjoy it, and I love being a part of a team.”
Megan continues, “When I was very young, I started out competing as a field player, but around the age of 11 or 12, I switched to the position of goalie. My parents sent me to “keeper” training to improve my skills in the goal, and it’s been my passion ever since. In fact, I look forward to going to East Texas Baptist University in Marshall, Texas, in the fall. I will be playing soccer for my college and will be receiving money from academics and service awards from my time spent at Heritage.”
In addition to leading her soccer team at MHHS, Megan also participates in Student Council and the National Honor Society. She and friend, Makenlee Mabra, were both recently featured on Channel 8 TV, Dale Hansen’s “Scholar Athletes” program.
According to Megan, “Coach Slov”, as the girls fondly call him, “has a big heart and we can tell that he truly cares about all of us. That makes us play even harder for a great coach like him.”
She continues, “Winning state in 2018 was by far my greatest achievement to this day, and it made me feel like all my years of hard work had payed off. The community support will forever be a huge factor in helping us win through the cheering and chants which gave us the confidence we needed to win.”
Megan says, “I feel that our team this year is deeply devoted to one another, which helps us stay strong when times get tough. I think that we have a good chance to go all the way and win state again, because of our hard preseason schedule and consistent work ethic which should help us to prepare for the playoff run.”
Makenlee Mabra — Senior center defense
Coach Slovacek describes Makenlee as “tough, committed, proven.”
Makenlee had a very different path to evolve as a soccer player. She started out in competitive cheer leading at the age of 5, but grew weary and bored with it by age 10.
She says, “My mom grew up playing soccer, so she urged me to give soccer a go. At age 12, I began competing in “select soccer” and training one-on-one with my coach at the time — David Flores, who gave me the inspiration to better myself on the field.”
Makenlee explains, “Soccer has just always been the one sport that just really made me continue wanting to practice and be on the field. I have not played any other sport while at MHHS, but I am involved in Student Council, National Honors Society, and Presidents Council.”
Unfortunately, these next few weeks will bring Makenlee’s soccer career to a close, as she will not be a part of the girls’ soccer team at Texas A&M in College Station. However, she is very excited about her new quest in college, even without soccer.
Makenlee shares, “ My favorite soccer memory would definitely be the 2018 playoff run with my team. It not only consisted of the games themselves, but countless practices, team dinners, ladybug hunting, and hotel trips; all in which lead us to winning the state championship. This special time will always hold a special place in my heart.”
Makenlee continues, “It was amazing to be apart of the State Championship team, every single game was a battle which made winning feel that much better, as it was by no means an easy task. Winning each round to me meant that I could spend more time with my team, as in the playoffs it can all end at any moment.”
She also raves about her favorite high school coach, Gerald Slovacek. She says, “I haven’t seen another coach put more time in to his players than Coach Slov. He spends countless hours at the field house doing whatever it takes for the team to be successful.”
The Heritage Lady Jags had a big let-down last year (season — 2019), as Makenlee explains, “we lost in the regional semi-finals to Spring Hill, which was a major learning experience as a team. We came into the game too headstrong, but we’ve been using that frustration as a motivator to work off of this year.
She concludes, “We set a goal to get back to the state tournament, and in preparation, Coach Slov put us through a difficult pre-district schedule this year, that granted us the opportunity to play against top 4A, 5A, and 6A teams. As long as we play together, I have no doubt that we will obtain our goal.”
Megan McCarthy, Makenlee Mabra and Aaliyah Bivins are the three 2020 graduating seniors from the Lady Jags soccer team.