St. Al’s McDaniel continues her soccer career after graduation

Published 9:50 am Friday, March 11, 2016

An undefeated season, a state championship and now a college scholarship. It’s been a heck of a senior year for Sara Katherine McDaniel.

McDaniel, the midfielder who led St. Aloysius to its first girls’ soccer state championship last fall, capped off her remarkable year by signing a letter of intent with the University of Mobile on Thursday.

Mobile is a four-year school and a member of the NAIA. McDaniel picked the Rams over Belhaven, Delta State and Mississippi College.

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“It’s really special. I’m very excited to go to Mobile and get another opportunity to play soccer,” McDaniel said. “I’m just really blessed to sign and have a second chance to play.”

McDaniel scored a total of 19 goals her sophomore and junior seasons, but took her game to another level as a senior.

She totaled 25 goals and 26 assists while leading St. Al to the MAIS Division III girls championship.

The Lady Flashes capped a perfect 14-0 season by beating Hartfield Academy 2-1 as McDaniel scored the team’s first goal of the game.

She recorded six multiple-goal games during the season, and had nearly as many with multiple assists. She had six assists in a 9-0 win over Laurel Christian and five in an 11-0 rout of Lee Academy.

“It was a very memorable year because we won the state championship and I was able to sign, and we went undefeated. So a pretty great year,” the soft-spoken McDaniel said.

While McDaniel is quiet and reserved off the field, she was the team’s offensive captain and leader on it. Besides her goal and assist totals, McDaniel served as a coach on the field by directing her teammates and keeping them in line.

“She was tremendous,” St. Al coach Scott Mathis said. “When you’ve got a player that gives 110 percent and you don’t have to ask, that’s what you want and that’s what she was. To have a captain that leads that well, to where you she knows what to do and you don’t have to tell her anything, I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”

Now, McDaniel will head to the college ranks and join a Mobile program that is among the best in the country on its level. The Rams have made the NAIA national tournament six consecutive seasons and finished with a 19-3 record in 2015.

Mobile has also won the Southern States Athletic Conference championship two years in a row, and is 34-6-3 in that span.

While a top-notch soccer program was appealing in its own right, McDaniel said Mobile’s main selling point was the school itself. It’s a small private school, similar to St. Al, and an environment that she felt comfortable in.

“It’s a private school, a small Baptist school. God is really valued there, and that’s important to me,” McDaniel said. “I feel like I can get a good education there.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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