Colin McCune: Seizing his shot and saving shots
Just two weeks ago, senior goalkeeper Colin McCune had played a total of seven minutes, 45 seconds in three years with the Washington University men’s soccer team.
Since then, McCune has taken the reigns for a squad with playoff aspirations, solidifying a role as starting goalie with three consecutive shutouts, including one at No. 23 Luther College. He now has a miniscule 0.24 goals against average in 373 minutes.
McCune’s path as a student-athlete has been far from conventional. He mostly played on the junior varsity team his first two years at Wash. U., making just one varsity appearance in the latter stages of a blowout.
McCune was primed to get on the field as an upperclassman, but just as he was about to get his chance, he was derailed by a fluke injury.
“I was obviously hoping to get some minutes going into my junior season after coming off very few during my sophomore year, none my freshman year,” McCune said. “There was a game where I was actually expecting to be playing; and we were training the evening before, and there was one play where it was a cross coming in; and I come out, and I make a punch to clear the ball, and I land on my shoulder…It ended up being an injury to my bursa where I could barely move for the next two, three months.”
It was a setback for a player who had spent time learning from his fellow goalkeepers and was ready to contribute to the team in any way it needed.
“I was very lucky where I got to play under two great guys for the past three years, Daniel Geanon and Nick Tannenbaum,” McCune said. “It was always learning from them in practice, paying attention to what they’re doing in games and just keeping myself ready so that when it came time to have a season like this, I was able to come and deliver for the team and just be ready to plug and play.”
Believe it or not, the injury may have worked out for the best. After a lot of physical therapy, McCune entered spring motivated and with a new objective: Win the goalkeeper job.
“The position was obviously one that I’d saw, especially coming off an injury, I’d have to compete for,” McCune said. “In retrospect, I think it was probably good for me that I didn’t come in with a mindset that this was something that was owed to me. I came off not playing for three months and this was something I really had to work for if I wanted to come in and play my senior year because getting no experience my junior year really left the gate wide open. I think it kept me hungry if anything.”
Given all the behind-the-scenes work, McCune has no regrets about his particular avenue to improvement.
“That’s been fantastic for my development; and, so, I don’t view not playing in varsity matches as being a serious impediment to becoming a better player,” McCune said.
For his part, McCune put in the work to get caught up to speed despite the lack of game action. With the help of keeper coach Frank Carotenuto, McCune took advantage of his time to shine in the offseason.
“It was just putting as much of myself as I could into sessions and trying to maximize my time with Franco,” McCune said. “I was very fortunate where it was all eyes on me. Dan and Nick were both done with their careers; and, so, they’d come to sessions and play, but the focus was strictly on helping me be in a position where I could help the team play well in the fall. And so, I was fortunate where I got a lot of individualized attention, and it was a single-minded focus for me in the spring and over the summer.”
Even with the persistence, McCune wasn’t promised anything in terms of playing time. In fact, he only found out he was the opening day starter when it was nearly time to kick-off. According to McCune, that was by design, a head coach Joe Clarke special.
“I think one of the great things was he didn’t tell me until the day of the first match,” McCune said. “I could have come in fully expecting that I was splitting minutes, maybe not getting time…He never came in and said, ‘This is yours; you have it.’ It’s very much something where I happened to be playing very well at the time, and things have worked out since then.”
With two other capable goalies, freshman Bryant Hales and junior Thomas Orgielewicz, in the mix, McCune will have to stay on his toes all season as he carves out his place.
“I think that [Clarke] does a really good job of keeping people earnest,” McCune said. “Everyone’s position is up for grabs. It is about playing the guys who are playing the best, instead of just playing guys who he thinks have some type of seniority and, therefore, they deserve it. That’s not what the team is about…It’s a position that I’ll have to continually earn for the rest of this season, and I’m very fortunate where I’m playing with two other great keepers this season—they’re making me work a lot for it.”
Given his tumultuous Red and Green career to this point, it’s easy to see why McCune has one goal this season: consistency.
“The best keepers are the ones you never think about,” McCune said. “You don’t want to be making mistakes where everyone remembers, and you don’t want to have to be making big saves that everyone remembers. So, I just want to be as consistent as possible for my team and continue to deliver.”
After graduating, McCune will be taking his competitive nature with him off the field. A mathematics and economics major, he’ll be starting as an investment banking analyst at Guggenheim Securities in New York in July.