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The Last Legs of Captain Kelley's `Very Fine Journey'
Kelley McCloskey

Sept. 20, 2013

SAN DIEGO, Calif. - Mitch Lehman wrote a feature story on senior midfielder Kelley McCloskey in her hometown newspaper, the San Marino (Calif.) Tribune. The story can be read in its entirety below: 

The Last Legs of Captain Kelley’s ‘Very Fine Journey’

Hard Work, A Positive Attitude and A Passion for the Game Have Propelled San Marino High School Graduate Kelley McCloskey to D-I Success at San Diego.

By Mitch Lehman

When she first appeared on the local soccer scene almost a decade ago, one had to wonder if Kelley McCloskey would be able to survive the challenges of the high school game, let alone the rigors of Division I athletics. Doubters, now, are few and far between if any exist at all. 

Fast forward to the fall of 2013 and McCloskey is putting the final touches on a masterful college soccer career at the University of San Diego, where she has already made two trips to the NCAA tournament and “promised” a third. Her Toreros have started the season 5-3, including two consecutive September road trips to Texas A&M and Kansas, respectively. We say “her Toreros because McCloskey was named captain of the team, a fact she did not mention and the truest definition of the role – we had to hear it from Coach Ada Greenwood.

McCloskey attended a college spotlight camp during her senior year and impressed Greenwood enough that he invited her to walk on at USD. She suffered a series of injuries, muscle pulls for the most part, and decided to redshirt her freshman season.



“I was just not prepared for the rigors of Division I college soccer,” she told The Tribune. “I didn’t play much club soccer until my senior year of high school. When I came back in the spring after sitting out my freshman year, I was  better prepared mentally and physically.”

The daughter of Joanne and Kevin McCloskey was a key component in what is probably the greatest moment in USD women’s soccer.

“During the 2011 NCAA tournament, we defeated UCLA in penalty kicks,” she said. “I have heard people say it was one of the biggest upsets in the history of Division I soccer. They were one of the top seeds and we had defeated UC Irvine the previous weekend, also on penalty kicks. It was an amazing experience.”
The Toreros run that year ended in the Sweet Sixteen.

McCloskey earned a starting position during her second season and hasn’t been displaced aside from a game here and there due to injury. Greenwood took notice and rewarded her with a partial scholarship for her junior season. This year,  Captain Kelley is enjoying a beautiful, scenic full ride.

She says she has played “every position on the field but keeper” and has found a home in the left midfield. She scored twice as a sophomore, bulged the old onion bag three times last season (tied for second on the team) and has also booked a dozen career assists.

“Kelley has a lot of skill, a lot of flair and a lot of creativity,” said Greenwood in his thick London accent, his praise for Kelley peppered with the word ‘mate.’ “She added great wide service to the team and a dimension on the left side that many, many Division I teams don’t have. She is always adding pieces to her arsenal and she is a very creative player. But she is also a team player. She is a great kid from a great family and she has greatly helped this program. She is a very hard worker with a great attitude and Kelley always puts the team first. That’s why I made her a captain. Kelley has been on a very fine journey, and this is the last part of it. We are off to a productive start and we are going to get better every week and will be competing for a conference championship and a return to the tournament.”

Greenwood couldn’t help mentioning that “cracking goal” McCloskey scored to help defeat perennial powerhouse Santa Clara – which was precisely Kelley’s best memory – so far. 

“Winning our first ever West Coast Conference championship, that has been my best memory,” she said.  “We were playing Santa Clara on ESPN and everyone thought they were going to win. It was a monumental night. One I will never forget.”

Few locals forget McCloskey’s glittering legacy as a four-year varsity starter for San Marino High School and head Coach Jaime Acuna. After her freshman year, Kelley was named to the all-Rio Hondo League second team. The 2009 graduate was a first-teamer the next three years, earned Rio Hondo League Most Valuable Player and all-Area distinction her senior season while sharing Lady Titan Most Valuable Player recognition her junior and senior campaigns. 

Her seventy-five career goals were split up among her freshman (4), sophomore (17), junior (25) and senior seasons, when she bagged a career-high twenty-nine. The total is good for (probably) third in school history behind Chrissy Skogen and Lindsey Wofford. Skogen played four years at Georgetown while knee injuries stole Wofford’s career at Wake Forest, where she was a prized recruit. 

McCloskey praised Acuna for developing in her “a deep passion for soccer.” “Each game I played, whenever I stepped on that field, he taught me to have passion and everything else will fall in place. He is a great coach.”

Her academic career ends in January when Kelley will receive a degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Finance. Future unknown.

“I’m trying to figure it out,” she said. “Currently I’m working towards the finance route. I’m taking a Sports Finance class and am enjoying that as well. I just want to be a strong leader in the business community.”
Fresh off the Kansas trip, McCloskey said one of her toughest adjustments to Division I athletics was making the best use of her time.

“You definitely have to prioritize,” she told The Tribune. “Especially when you are traveling. On the planes, in the hotel rooms you have to get your work done. My first two years were more difficult, but I learned to handle the responsibility.”

Social life? “You fit it in when you can,” she said, laughing. 

Her biggest guffaws, however, came hurtling forward when she was reminded by this reporter that in her very first college soccer game, she handed fellow San Marinan Pat Haden his first loss as USC’s new athletic director when the Toreros topped the Women of Troy.

“Oh yeah, that’s right,” she seemed to say, her words drowned by laughter. Haden recovered to be named The Tribune’s ‘Citizen of the Year’ for 2012. 

Kelley, well she has a pretty bright future as well. 

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