Friday, December 2, 2022

Windham grad McKenna continues success in first year at USM

By Matt Pascarella

In her first year playing on a college soccer team, 2021 Windham graduate Julia McKenna was the second leading goal-scorer for the University of Southern Maine this season, All Little East Conference (LEC) Rookie of the Year and a First Team All-Conference player. In the LEC championship game, it was her goal that secured the Huskies’ 2022 LEC Championship win. The Huskies made it to the first round of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Championship.

University of Southern Maine sophomore and Windham High
graduate Julia McKenna races after the ball during a game
in Gorham on Saturday, Oct. 8 at Hannaford Field
McKenna recently transferred to USM as a sophomore and is majoring in communications. She has an interest in broadcast journalism and would like to pursue something in that field after college. She plans to play lacrosse as well.

“Coming this far and winning our conference has been so much fun,” said McKenna. “I am beyond proud of my team. We are all just showing up and doing what we do best every day. Putting in the work and staying committed.”

When she was 3 years old, she began playing soccer. She loved the game right from the start.

This season, McKenna was on the Huskies team with another Windham grad, Ceria Berthiaume, who graduated high school a few years ahead of her. They both took breaks from playing college soccer, and while they were never in high school at the same time, the two began playing college soccer together last spring.

“It’s been fun having someone else from the Windham community on the team,” said Berthiaume. “It really shows how much the youth leagues have had a lasting impact for both of us to continue playing at the collegiate level while remaining close to home.”

According to McKenna, the awards she received this season pushed her to continue to better her game. Also, it was her amazing teammates who helped her to achieve these awards.

“Getting noticed is nice, but it is vital to always keep pushing to get better,” said McKenna.

Mental toughness is what McKenna believes has taken to get to this point in her athletic career. Just like any aspect of life, it has ups and downs, but it takes love and devotion of the sport – or any sport – to have and continue to be successful.

“Her ability to read the game this season was excellent,” said USM Women’s Soccer Head Coach Seth Benjamin. “Her runs off the ball got her in such dangerous spots that’s how she scored a number of her goals. As a center midfielder ... she involved everyone on the team. Off the field, her personality ... she’s a really friendly kid. Being a first-year player, she interacted with everyone and made a connection with all of her teammates.”

Benjamin said it speaks volumes to the player she is because after taking a year off, McKenna went from high school and club teams to play at the college level and had a very successful season.

Off the field, McKenna likes to be outdoors, hiking or skiing. She goes to the gym often and likes to unwind with a good romance book.<

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