For Stephen MacDonald, a 2016 national championship is definitely on the horizon. Nothing, not even a torn meniscus or broken collar bone, can stop him from playing the game he loves.
“Stephen loves soccer more than anything,” redshirt sophomore forward Gabe Kellum said. “That’s why his motto is always ‘Ball is life.’”
MacDonald, center forward for Seattle Pacific’s men’s soccer team, had an early start to his soccer career. He started playing competitively on teams when he was only 5 years old back home in Phoenix, Arizona. Once he was scouted by Seattle Pacific University, he fell in love with the city and school after only one visit.
During his freshman year MacDonald started for SPU in several games, which is something that doesn’t usually happen with an inexperienced athlete. But due to a fairly young team and an injured leading scorer, there was a need to find someone that could score goals.
“Stephen demonstrated a confidence in his abilities,” Head Coach Mark Collings said. “When we were returning with our leading scorer recovering from surgery, Stephen showed an ability to create goal scoring opportunities for us.”
MacDonald’s stats are evident of that. During his freshman year he scored 4 goals and one assist. When he came back his sophomore year he improved his stats by scoring an astounding 9 goals and 8 assists.
This last year he managed to score 1 goal and 2 assists despite being out a majority of the season due to a torn meniscus that he suffered against Simon Fraser. He returned for the last two games of the season after a good recovery.
“It was really hard not being able to play with my team,” MacDonald said. “But after watching them they had some great results and played some good soccer. It makes me really excited to get back out there and play this next fall season.”
A few weeks after recovering from his torn meniscus, MacDonald broke his collarbone in a snowboarding accident, which limited his ability to play in the recent spring soccer games.
“We definitely would have liked him to play during the spring,” Collings said. “But in turn it did give some other guys an opportunity to play a lot. Losing a player of Stephen’s caliber is never going to be positive, but I know that our team has gained a lot of confidence in some other players which will additionally help us next fall.”
Kellum agreed with Collings about the effects of not having MacDonald for the majority of fall or spring season and what that did to the team dynamic.
“I think that when a player with Stephen’s talent is missing from your group, your team is automatically affected by it,” Kellum said. “He is an incredible player and every team in our conference knows that. He is one of the best forwards in our region because of his ability to shoot the ball. He can shoot from pretty much anywhere with any part of his foot.”
There is a lot of excitement surrounding the team going into this upcoming season, especially for MacDonald. He reiterated that he is ready to play and the team has one goal on its mind.
“The goal is to win a national championship,” MacDonald said. “Hopefully this can be the year that we can do it, because I think we have all the right players to do so.”
After making it to the NCAA Division II Tournament the past three years but never advancing past the West Region final, the team is confident going into this upcoming season because they believe that it will finally be their year to win it all.
“We are really excited about next fall,” Collings said. “I’m expecting Stephen to compete like crazy and I have no idea what kind of numbers he will put up. But I do know that he will be ready. His improvements have been tremendous and with someone like Stephen, you don’t want to take away his instincts, but he will have to put in a lot of extra work with his finishing and movement of the ball.”