McCabe or Williams: Who will start?

The Eastern Michigan University women's soccer team has used over 10 different starting line-ups in 15 matches played during the 2015 season.

So the question going into the end of the season not only becomes what starting 10 outfield players head coach Scott Hall puts on the field, but also, who Hall selects to play goalkeeper as the last defense for the Eagles. Hall has two active goalkeepers on his roster in senior Megan McCabe and freshman Kaylin Williams.

The choice for who could play the final three matches against Western Michigan University, Northern Illinois University and Bowling Green State University, as well as protect the net during the MAC Tournament isn’t an easy decision when it comes to the two Eagles goalkeepers.

On one hand you have McCabe; an established, hard-working veteran that has paid her dues and has a right to the starting spot. On the other hand, you have Williams; a technically sound and talented, yet inexperienced ‘keeper that has impressed in her first season and has the statistics to back her claim.

Case for McCabe

McCabe came to Eastern Michigan as a freshman and only played four games in her first season, but posted a 3-0 record with a goals-against average of .53. In her sophomore season, McCabe started every game for the Eagles and posted a 1.06 goals against average while tallying four shutouts and a record of 12-7-2.

McCabe had a successful junior campaign as well, boasting a 1.03 goals-against average and a record of 10-6-1, shutting out teams in eight of the 17 games she played in. McCabe was also in net when Western Michigan defeated Eastern in double overtime of the first round of the MAC Tournament, in which the fifth seed took out the third seed.

Hall has gone on record saying that McCabe is one of the “hardest working players,” that he has coached and that she is a “great leadership figure” for the team. As the ‘keeper who had to deal with the Western Michigan loss, and also being the ‘keeper who has posted three winning seasons with great statistics, it makes sense that McCabe would be chosen to finish the season and lead the charge into the post-season.

Case for Williams

Williams is a true freshman, who saw action early in her first collegiate season with the Eagles, made her debut against the University of Loyola at Chicago. Williams posted a shut-out and made four saves in the game The young 'keeper has led the Eagles to a three game winning streak as well as two consecutive wins late in the MAC schedule.

Before arriving at Eastern, Williams was a standout in high-school soccer, winning 1st Team All-Conference and 1st Team All-District awards, as well as Goalkeeper of the Year in 2013. As a senior in high-school, Williams was named All-District and All-Conference goalkeeper. She also holds Winnetonka High School’s shut-out record with 9, also setting a record for saves with 282.

Despite her lack of experience, Williams has stepped in multiple times during the 2015 season to protect the crease when McCabe has been injured or hasn’t played. Williams has also played a majority of MAC games, and has excelled against MAC opposition as the season has progressed.

2015 Season

It’s hard to tell who Hall may pick, especially if you look at statistics, and there has been no consistent way to gauge when one goalkeeper will start over the other throughout the 2015 season.

Both McCabe and Williams have started the same amount of games, eight, this season.

In those eight games, McCabe has allowed 21 goals, and has a goals-against average of 2.89. She has made 35 saves and holds a record of 1-5-1, with a save percentage of .625. Williams has allowed 13 goals, and has a goals-against average of 1.42. She has made 48 saves and holds a record of 4-4-1, with a save percentage of .787.

It is worth noting that McCabe played games against tougher opposition early on in the season. Including games against the University of Michigan, ranked 51st in the country and DePaul University who was ranked 19th in the country. Eastern lost 8-1 to Michigan and 7-0 to DePaul, losses that can't be blamed solely on McCabe.

So…

When it comes to who may get the starting nod for the final part of the season, it’s safe to say that Hall has a difficult decision ahead of him. He has a goalkeeper that has played in the post-season twice, but is statistically having the worst season of her career. Hall also has a goalkeeper who is riding the “hot hand” when it comes to the MAC, but has never seen time in a collegiate post-season.

As far as the decision goes...I wouldn't want to be Scott Hall right now. 

UPDATE:

Megan McCabe announced that she will miss the rest of the regular season with a separated shoulder through her Instagram account. That will mean true freshman Kaylin Williams will start the last three games of the season for the Eagles.

I've poured every ounce of my heart and soul into this beautiful game for the past 16 years; it's finally time for me to hang up the cleats. Although the season isn't over for the team just yet, a separated shoulder is keeping me off the field for the remainder of regular season; a heartbreaking end to my final year. Nevertheless, I owe who I am today to the coaches I've had, and my family who's been behind me every step of the way. To my former and current teammates; I cannot even begin to express how thankful I am to have had each and every one of you in my corner throughout the years. It has been my pleasure and privilege to share the field with you. I'll never forget the memories we've made, the amazing wins, the heartbreaking losses, and the countless laughs and tears we've shared. Can't wait to cheer my heart out for my girls as we head into these last couple of MAC games, and hopefully into the playoffs as well. It's been one HELL of a ride, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Nothing but love in my heart right now ❤️

A photo posted by Megan McCabe (@meganjmccabe) on


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