Coach Daniel Mendonca knew he had a good player in Brooke MacLeod, but her rookie year turned out even better than he expected.
The 19-year-old defender from Chatham was a Premier Division second-team all-star for the Tecumseh Soccer Club in League1 Ontario, the province’s top women’s circuit.
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She followed that up with an impressive debut season at the University of Windsor.
“She just got better every game,” said Mendonca, head coach for Tecumseh SC and the Windsor Lancers. “That was the biggest thing about her season. She was just constantly improving, constantly getting better, and I’m assuming it’s only going to go up from there.”
MacLeod recently received the good news about her all-star selection, months after the season was over.
“My coach just texted me about it. I woke up to the message from him and I was in shock,” the Ursuline College Chatham graduate said. “But it was exciting when I got it.”
MacLeod has the athleticism and “immense amount of raw talent” to continue playing past university and League1, Mendonca said.
“There’s a lot of players from League1 who went on to play in other areas around the world,” he said. “If that interests Brooke, I think that she can put her mind (to it) and go down that path. She has a long way to go between now and then, but there’s a lot of potential that hasn’t been tapped yet with her.”
There are no Canadian-based women’s soccer leagues higher than League1 Ontario. MacLeod was set to debut with Tecumseh SC in 2020 until the season was cancelled because of COVID-19.
The pandemic also wiped out the 2020 Ontario University Athletics season for the Windsor Lancers.
The long layoff didn’t stop MacLeod from being a difference-maker right away when play resumed in 2021.
“She’s been impactful earlier than I expected,” Mendonca said. “That’s really a testament to her drive and her desire to be a better version of herself. … Did I think she was going to be this impactful this early? No, I didn’t. It’s great to see her step up and want to be like that.”
MacLeod is making an impact off the field, too. The Lancers have elected the second-year human kinetics student to their leadership council.
She was even better in the OUA season than in League1 Ontario and deserved another all-star nod, Mendonca said. She played almost every minute of the season and was an asset at both ends of the field.
As a left defender, she was usually responsible for marking the opponent’s best player. She did that well while also contributing to her own team’s attack, Mendonca said.
“I play a lot based off speed and endurance,” said MacLeod, who came up in the Chatham Youth Soccer Association. “I’m (a) very offensive defensive left-back, so I make a lot of runs and make a lot of crosses and generate a lot of offensive opportunities for our team. But also I’m defence, so (I’m) coming back to defend the outside players and making sure they don’t get crosses in or set up plays against our team.”
She doesn’t feel any pressure going into next season as Tecumseh’s lone all-star.
“I’m just going to play the way I play,” MacLeod said. “Getting awards and recognition is obviously nice, but I just love playing the game, so just playing and just doing my best is what I play. But winning and getting recognition is obviously amazing.”