Boys can’t slow high-scoring McCall | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Boys can’t slow high-scoring McCall

Steve Yingling

Jim McCall likes it when boys spy his daughter on the field and predict a decisive victory.

It’s not long before they are eating crow because hardly a game goes by where 13-year-old Lindsey McCall of South Lake Tahoe doesn’t stretch the net.

Gender biases are commonplace when boys and girls share the same playing field, but Lindsey has won over many previously sexist males.

She suits up for the Tahoe Ice, an under-14 boys’ club team, and plays a position that is usually reserved for a team’s most talented player – forward. Whether she is on a boys’ team or a girls’ team, Lindsey usually is one of the most gifted on the field.

“She is an incredible player and she’s right there with my top boys,” said Tahoe Ice coach Abel Caro. “You run into a team with a girl once in a while, but I’ve never seen a girl that you can compare to with how she plays the game.”

Her presence on a boys’ team hasn’t always been well-received. Two years ago, an opposing club in a tournament championship game protested that the Ice shouldn’t be allowed to have girl on a boys’ team. The Ice knew why they were complaining. Eventually allowed to play, Lindsey helped lead her team to the championship win. During the tournament she scored seven goals and distributed five assists.

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“She doesn’t look like a real tomboy, so her skill level comes as bit of surprise,” Jim said.

Lindsey’s goal scoring is down about 25 percent when she plays against boys, Jim said, but he firmly believes that the higher level of competition suits her abilities.

“It seems the better the players are, the better she looks,” Jim said. “She can make plays to them and they are able to finish them, but the weaker players may miss the ball.”

Despite her growing reputation, Lindsey still has to convince some boys to have a more open mind about female athletes. Recently at a tournament in Sacramento, a boy started teasing some Ice players about having a girl on their team. Five minutes into the game, they wished Lindsey was playing for their team as she scored a quick goal.

“It’s lot of fun playing against the boys … it’s a lot more competition than the girls,” she said.

Before she gave up her American Youth Soccer Organization career two years ago, there was an outcry to bar Lindsey from playing with her age group. She would score 35 to 50 goals a season, and according to Jim, there could have been many more if coaches hadn’t pulled her back after games turned into routs.

“There was a letter to the commissioner complaining that she was too strong of a player to play with the girls or the boys and she needed to move up and play with older players,” Jim recalled.

The notoriety Lindsey received from playing boys’ club soccer helped her earn an invitation to the National Soccer Academy’s Project 50 Best of the Best program. She made an immediate impact, leading the girls’ team in scoring and netting the deciding goal in the finals of the Nomads College Coaches Showcase in San Diego.

Speed and a unique feel for the game have contributed to Lindsey’s rapid progression in the sport.

“She knows how to position herself ahead of time .. she has a knack for being at the right place at the right time,” Caro said.

Lindsey took her superlative play to the international level this summer, participating with NSA U-13 in the Dana Cup in Denmark and the Gothia Cup in Sweden.

During those tournaments, Lindsey scored 12 of NSA’s 19 goals and contributed six assists.

According to Jim, the Gothia Cup is the world’s largest youth tournament with more than 50,000 participants from 64 countries. In that event, Lindsey helped her team to a third-place finish.

“Lindsey and her teammates proved they can compete with some of the best in the world,” Jim said.

The McCall family’s success in soccer dates back to Jim’s playing days. Lindsey’s older brothers also were forwards who had no problem putting the ball in the net: Eric, 27, played for Joe Winters at STHS in the late 1990s and Jamie, 30, had a respectable prep career on the East coast.

“All of her (ability) goes beyond our talents,” Jim said. “She has things going that we never had.”

Recognition continues to pour in for the talented teen. She was the youngest selected by the Olympic Development Program to the Nevada State team, has been asked to train with the Whittell High boys’ varsity soccer team, served as a coach at the recent Maltase Soccer Camp at Kahle Community Park and has been invited to play on one of Reno’s club teams.

The soon-to-be eighth-grader at South Tahoe Middle School isn’t satisfied with her growing list of accomplishments. She sees no reason why she can’t equal or better Mia Hamm’s mark of making the U.S. national team by the time she’s 15.

“My goal is two steps away and my goal for next season is to make the national team,” Lindsey said.

Caro is convinced it can happen.

“If she keeps progressing the way she is and the family continues to expose her to different areas, by the time she’s 15 she definitely has the potential to make it to the national team,” he said.

Considering her history, Lindsey is right on goal.

– Tribune Sports Editor Steve Yingling can be reached at (530) 542-8010 or syingling@tahoedailytribune.com

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