Boys Soccer: Lincoln-Way West’s Ian McGrath a student of soccer
By Steve Millar For Sun-Times Media October 9, 2013 9:22PM
Ian McGrath, of Lincoln-Way West. | Gary Middendorf/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 11, 2013 12:19PM
Ian McGrath’s loyalty to soccer began long before the Lincoln-Way West senior stepped onto the pitch for the first time.
“I started playing in first grade, but I’ve been into the sport since I was a little baby,” he said. “I’ve been wearing Liverpool jerseys since I was a baby. I still support them every weekend.”
His dedication to the sport is one of his best assets.
“I love going on an off day from the team and just getting a ball and just playing,” he said. “I always want to play and get better. I definitely have a passion for the game.”
McGrath, a center midfielder, has blossomed into one of the area’s top players. After finishing last season with 10 goals and five assists and earning All-Area honors, he’s scored 14 goals and added two assists in 18 matches this year.
“I’m pretty happy with the season so far,” he said. “We’ve had some big accomplishments. We beat Sandburg and won the Lincoln-Way Invitational.
“The rest of the way, I’d like to get to the 20-goal mark and I really want to be an All-State player. Team-wise, I think we can be regional champions and contend for a sectional championship and a shot at state.”
McGrath plans to play collegiate soccer at the NCAA Division I level and cites the University of Evansville as one of his possible destinations.
“I have a couple of nice offers, and I just want to keep my options open,” he said. “I’m definitely going to play, though. Hopefully, at the highest level.”
West coach Jeff Theiss believes whatever college lands McGrath will be getting the full package.
“Ian brings everything you’d ask for,” Theiss said. “He has the size. His soccer IQ is on another level. He sees the field so well. Last year, we had him up top and we know he has the ability to score goals as a forward. He brings the organizational aspect, the discipline aspect, the senior aspect, and then on top of it I truly believe he is one of the more technical players in the area.”
McGrath also takes pride in being a leader.
“I’d have to say my leadership is one of my best attributes,” he said. “I like to lead by example as well as vocally. I like to take the young guys aside and talk to them one-on-one and explain what they’re doing well and what they need to do better. That’s a lot more effective than screaming at them or nagging.”
McGrath has four more regular-season matches and one more playoff run in his career with the Warriors. He’ll be sure to savor his time on the soccer field, as there’s no place he’d rather be.
“I just love playing,” he said. “I love the creativity of the game. There are no designed plays. You can go out there and be free and show your skills. I love to try to use all the moves the pros use.”