Big 12 Campus Correspondent
If there has been one mainstay over the past three seasons for the Texas Tech soccer team, it is Casey McCall.
The junior from Frisco, Texas, rarely leaves the field; she has only missed seven minutes of play this year. That's not a rarity; she has led the team in minutes played each of the last two seasons.
"Obviously it was an awesome opportunity for me to work hard and help out the team as a freshman," she said. "It was a goal of mine to play, but I never imagined I would start and lead the team in minutes."
Coach Tom Stone says one reason McCall has rarely left her post over the last three seasons is strategy - he wants a solid backline of defenders. But McCall also brings intrinsic values that the team needs on the field.
"Casey's fitness and competiveness are two elements we don't like to see leave the field," said Stone, who has led a turnaround of the Tech program in his four seasons. "She can certainly handle 90 minutes because she stays focused for all 90 minutes and has very few lapses of concentration.
"Better yet, she is a great leader. When you take all that off the field sometimes you open yourself up to issues, so we'd rather not do that."
Her ability and presence on the field has helped the Red Raiders post a school record 10 shutouts this year. Tech still has a chance to add to that number in the regular-season finale at Baylor on Friday, the Big 12 Championship, and maybe even the school's first-ever NCAA tournament berth.
McCall is not just a force on the defensive end, though, as she can make opposing defenses pay with her offense. She is fifth points with three goals and two assists.
"I definitely have gone out and worked on my offense, and I think it helps our team out a lot," she said.
With 18 of Tech's 26 players classified as underclassmen, McCall's role has been reversed this year as she now is the leader of the team. Before the season began, the junior was named team captain and has been adjusting to the new role.
"I have more responsibility and I have girls looking up to me now, so I need to stay focused and be a good role model for my team on and off the field," said McCall. "I've had girls to look up to the last two years, so I have been able to learn from them and take a little bit of who I am and share it with my teammates."
McCall said that she has always tried to lead by example, but has also improved on communicating with her teammates vocally. Stone couldn't be more pleased with how she has accepted and performed in a leadership role.
"Her leadership skills have been excellent because she leads by example in practice, and she is the most consistent competitor that we have," he said. "She commands a lot of respect in the locker room."
The leadership she has brought shows in Texas Tech's record. The Red Raiders are enjoying one of the best seasons in program history with an 11-6-1 overall record and a 4-4-1 Big 12 mark. The team's success has been good enough to be ranked 30th in the RPI as of Oct. 18, giving Tech a legitimate chance at an NCAA Championship bid.
The good news for the Texas Tech soccer program is that McCall has one year of eligibility left; the bad news is she only has one year left.
"We've built the team around her here and she has been that rock we have leaned on for our third season," said Stone. "I think she represents us all better than maybe we even deserve. She is just a great representative of our program and she is going to be a hard one to replace."