MTHS senior could challenge school scoring record

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When Tara Davies finished her high school soccer career at Middle Township High School in the fall of 2005 with 104 goals before going on to enjoy a productive career at national Division I power Penn State, there was thought that it might be a long time before another player comes along to challenge that record.

Yet less than a decade later, here we are.

Danielle McCann, about to begin her senior season at Middle, brings 77 career goals into the new season, which for her team is set to begin on Sept. 10 at Vineland.

McCann, Cape May County’s active leading career goal scorer, is a major reason why the Lady Panthers have been one of the top programs in the Cape-Atlantic League in recent seasons. She’s netted 30, 25 and 22 goals, respectively, in each of the last three seasons, helping Middle go a combined 48-12-4 with two CAL National Conference titles, one South Jersey championship and a berth in another sectional title game. Her 30 goals last fall tied the program single-season record, first set by Davies as a junior in 2004.

“I think the goal total shows you what a competitor she is, because she is relentless around the net,” said Middle coach Bob Wishart, who’s led the program for 12 seasons after one year as the head boys coach at Middle in 2001. “She’s just a finisher, it’s just that simple. I’ve coached a few of them – Matt Maher, Davies – and it’s something you can’t teach a kid. You can do shooting drill after shooting drill but when it comes right down to it some kids consistently put the ball in the net and other kids don’t. I think that’s what separates the great ones. A lot of kids have moves, a lot of kids can beat people and a lot of kids have ball skills, but not everyone can take all that and then go finish at the rate Danielle can.”

McCann, who’s set to play at The College of New Jersey next year, is well aware that she’s 23 goals from 100 and 27 goals from matching Davies’s program record. But …

“I’ve tried not to think about it. I’ve really tried to put it aside,” she said. “I just like to work on us getting better as a team and focus on winning and if it happens it happens. I don’t want to force it.”

McCann was quick to say her goal-scoring prowess has not come totally through her own talents.

“Soccer is a very competitive sport and I like how you can’t do anything on your own,” McCann said. “You need other people there to help out and you need to work as a team. And I like being able to help other people score and help other people do good things on the field. I like soccer because it’s not a selfish sport because everyone on the field is important.”

In some ways, it takes a bit of selfishness to become a great goal scorer. But McCann makes sure that the chances she gets are within the team concept and not forced by a desire to put up great statistics.

“I think the thing that really makes her a great player is that she’s much more worried about the team than herself,” Wishart said. “She tied the school record last year with 30 (goals) but when we lost to (Moorestown in the state tournament) she was so upset that we lost. I don’t think she even thought about not breaking that record. She was (mad) about the loss.”

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