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Conestoga center back Mike McCarthy is Main Line Boys Athlete of the Week

The junior center back is called “the backbone of our defense,” by Conestoga boys’ soccer head coach David Zimmerman, who notes that every Pioneer was subbed out of games for a period of time with the exception of McCarthy and teammate Gabe Harms.  The state champion Conestoga defense surrendered nine goals during the regular season (0.5 goals per game), which was second-lowest of any team in District One, and in the post-season yielded just four goals in eight games.  McCarthy also scored some big goals this season including a game tying goal in a come-from-behind win against West Chester Henderson and a game-winning goal in overtime against the Haverford School. 

Q: What was your most vivid memory of the PIAA state championship final at Hershey? Can you share it with us?

A: My most vivid memory was after the final whistle blew. Our goalie, Luke Smith, ran over and gave me a big hug.

Q: What was your first thought the moment the PIAA state final ended and you knew Conestoga was state champion?

A: It is an unbelievable feeling to know your last game of the season is a win, especially for the seniors.

Q: Coach Zimmerman refers to you as “the backbone of our defense.” What do you think was the key to the Pioneers’ great defense during the regular season and post-season?

A: With three extremely talented senior defenders beside me, the key for us was to always be communicating.

Q: You scored some big goals this season, including a game tying goal against West Chester Henderson in a come-from-behind victory and a game-winning goal in overtime against the Haverford School. Can you describe each of these two goals – how the play developed, and your role in the play’s development?

A: The Henderson goal came off a corner kick that deflected to me and I headed it in. The goal really fired us up late in the second half to score again. In the Haverford game, Blaise Milanek passed the ball across the box and I poked it past the keeper. This was one of my favorite memories of the season because the whole team chased after me into the corner to celebrate.

Q: What do you think is the strongest aspect of your game? What part of your game are you working on the most currently?

A: I have been told my combination of size and skill is a big part of my success. [On the other hand] sometimes in a game when I make a mistake or turn the ball over I get frustrated – I need to work on remaining calm and focusing on the task at hand.

Q: You wear No. 99 for Conestoga. Was there a reason you picked that number?

A: It is a tradition for big center backs to wear No. 99 at Conestoga and Coach Z thought it would be fitting for me to do the same.

Q: Tell us a little about your pre-game preparation the day of a game.

A: I eat Fruity Pebbles in the morning and I try to stay hydrated throughout day.

Q: Who have been your biggest soccer mentors, and what was the most important thing you learned from each one?

A: My club soccer coach, Dom Balsamo, taught me from a very young age to always be confident and work hard on and off the field.

Q: Do you participate in any other sports or extracurricular activities at Conestoga? What sparked your interest in these activities?

A: Last year I took part in the Chess Team. It was run by our coach, Mr. Zimmerman.

Q: Do you plan to play soccer in college? What are your favorite colleges at the present time? What do you think you might like to major in? Is there a career path that particularly interests you at the present time?

A: I do hope to play in college – Saint Joseph’s, Temple, and Loyola (Maryland) are interesting programs.

Fun facts – Mike McCarthy

Favorite TV show: Game of Thrones.

Favorite movie: The Incredibles.

Favorite athlete: Paul Pogba.

Favorite team: Atletico Madrid.

Favorite place to visit: Emerald Isle, N.C..

Favorite pre-game meal: Spaghetti.

Favorite color: Red.

Person I most admire: “I admire my brother Joseph because we are always so competitive and he is the reason I hate losing.”

Birth date: Dec. 21, 1999 in Upper Darby.

Family members: Parents Kevin and Lisa, older brother Joseph, older sister Annie.

(To be selected as Main Line Boys Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by his school.)

To view a gallery of the Main Line Boys Athlete of the Week from 2013 to date click here

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