By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 7/21/08
Clearly, the results were positive.
McKinney capped off a brilliant lacrosse career this season by earning a slew of honors, including first-team Division I All-American and Academic All-American while helping the Fighting Irish (12-7) finish 12th in the nation and qualify for the NCAA tournament.
McKinney collected 38 goals and 25 assists in 2008, earning first-team all-Big East and the league’s Midfielder of the Year honor. She also was a finalist for the Tewaaraton Trophy.
She also was selected to ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA second team All-Academic District Five team and was named the Big East Aeropostale Scholar-Athlete Award winner. A co-captain, she also was named the winner of Notre Dame’s Francis Patrick O’Connor Award that goes to the senior student-athlete who best exemplifies the true spirit of Notre Dame.
Last month McKinney enjoyed a special homecoming, representing the North in the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association Senior All-Star Game at the United Sports Training Center in Downingtown. She scored once, but the South prevailed, 11-8.
McKinney, who finished her career with 152 goals and a school record 80 assists, used her speed and tenacious play to blossom into a standout midfielder in 2008.
“I really wanted to be an active part of the defense,” said McKinney, who recently began a career in advertising with NBC sports. “I wanted to make turnovers, not just be someone down there. I ended up having a lot of caused turnovers (27), and it felt good to be doing something besides scoring goals.
“I was a more complete player, being more involved. It was my goal to embrace the new midfield position and I got to run all over the place.”
The season also had its downs for McKinney. Notre Dame was hoping to challenge three-time defending champion Northwestern for the national championship and especially wanted to win the Big East crown.
But the Irish squandered an 8-1 lead and fell to Georgetown, 15-14, in triple overtime, in the Big East semifinals, a loss that McKinney called the “most devastating loss my career.
“We had hoped to be Big East champs. The tournament was held at Notre Dame, it would have been the perfect story.”
After the loss, the Irish got a bad seed for NCAAs – Northwestern. Notre Dame fell to the Wildcats, 15-7, and Northwestern went on to defeat Penn to win its fourth straight crown.
“Obviously, we had hoped to go further,” McKinney said. “Being the 10th-ranked team in the country (at the time), we wouldn’t have thought we’d have to play the No. 1 team in the country in the first round.
“What also hurt was losing two games early in the year on a trip to California. The end was a little disappointing, but we got over that.
“It was a great year – we beat Duke and had a big win against Georgetown.
“Ultimately, the best thing that happened doesn’t count on the scoreboard. We had a close-knit, hard-working ream. I think the camaraderie that we built this year will carry over and last in the future.”
The future looks bright for McKinney, who graduated in May with a double major of sociology and Film & TV. In her job with NBC Sports, she is serving as a behind-the-scenes liaison for the station’s advertisers. Eventually, she hopes to sell ads.
She started her job on June 25 and admitted she got lucky in landing the job at Rockefeller Center. “I was kind of hoping to take a little time off and go to the Jersey shore,” she said, “but it was such a good opportunity, I jumped on it.”
McKinney said her biggest accomplishments may not have been the All-American honors or spot on the Tewaaraton list. Instead, it was performing her role as captain with defender Becky Ranck (a Radnor graduate).
“For me, personally, I feel like the most important goal was to be captain and do everything possible to help the team be the best it could be,” she said. “Looking back, I felt like I put a lot of effort into it – and I was satisfied with myself as a leader.”