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All-Decade girls soccer spotlight: McGhee made a difference in many ways for Pattonville

All-Decade girls soccer spotlight: McGhee made a difference in many ways for Pattonville

From the All-Decade girls soccer series
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Mikala McGhee was a girl of all seasons during her high school days.

The 2012 Pattonville graduate sparkled on the softball diamond in the fall, batting .454 in a four-year career.

She was a standout basketball guard in the winter, setting the groundwork for an NCAA Division I career that started at Missouri State and wrapped up in 2017 at Florida Gulf Coast.

But perhaps McGhee made her biggest impact for Pattonville on the soccer pitch in the spring, even though it’s not the sport she pursued in college.

McGhee earned first-team All-Metro honors both as a junior and senior at different positions — on defense and then as a midfielder — and helped the Pirates to 81 victories during her four-year career.

“I loved playing soccer so much in high school that I kind of almost regret not choosing to play it in college,” McGhee said. “I was getting bigger named schools coming at me for soccer so it was always an option, but my heart just kind of laid with basketball. I ended up picking basketball at the end, but I probably spent more time with soccer in high school than I did basketball.”

No matter what sport she played, McGhee was a game changer.

A first-team selection on the Post-Dispatch All-Decade girls soccer team, McGhee definitely changed the game when she was on the pitch.

And even when she was off of it.

McGhee’s long throw-ins were a weapon Pattonville used to great effect.

“I feel like it helped us win a lot of games because it was, basically, like another corner kick,” McGhee said.

Her throw-ins basically equaled an attempt on goal from anywhere inside the offensive half.

McGhee had a goal disallowed after throwing it directly into the opponent’s net in a 2-1 loss to Cor Jesu in a Class 3 quarterfinal her senior season.

After that game, Cor Jesu goalkeeper Sam Bersett said: “We play on the same club team. Nobody throws the ball as far or as hard (as McGhee). After bobbling a couple of them, I had to try to punch them out and then count on my defense to get the ball cleared. All I kept saying was, 'Get it out. Get it out.' ”

Cor Jesu went on to win the Class 3 state championship.

Earlier in the 2012 season, Pattonville beat Hazelwood West 4-2.

Jason Sellers, who will become Pattonville’s athletics director July 1, then was the soccer coach at West.

Sellers said after that game: “The first time she grabbed the ball for a throw-in, she launched a missile. It's such an incredible weapon; it's always impossible to defend.”

The 5-foot-11 McGhee made her mark in other ways, as well.

Her speed and power made McGhee the absolute envy of coaches, players and college scouts alike.

“Her size and grit were what stood out immediately, ball winning,” Sellers said this week. “Even as a freshman. And she did nothing but get better. She was a field general. I saw it first-hand as a coach. It’s hard to remember a kid that could impact a game in so many areas the way she did for four years.”

During her four years in high school, McGhee amassed 24 goals and added 50 assists.

Pattonville qualified for the state tournament twice in her career.

The Pirates finished third in Class 3 her freshman year and second when she was a sophomore.

“Soccer was amazing in high school,” McGhee said. “We had such a good core group on that team. We played together so well and we knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We worked hard to put Pattonville soccer on the map.”

One of McGhee’s teammates all four years in high school was forward Kailey Utley. After her time playing at West Virginia University, Utley has since played with the Fire and Ice Soccer Club.

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Utley had invited McGhee — who still is on the roster of the Surge women’s professional basketball team — to give it another go at soccer.

“Mikala was a force on the soccer field and everyone remembers her physical ability,” Utley said. “She was a huge part of our success and she was an enforcer on the field. I loved calling her a teammate, not only in soccer, but in basketball and softball, as well. She could do it all and I know she still can.”

McGhee now works as a reporter locally at KTVI/KPLR television stations, a job she has had on a full-time basis since January.

She finished as Pattonville’s career points leader in basketball with 1,647 points and went on to get a master’s degree in criminal justice from Florida Gulf Coast after earning a bachelor’s degree in 2016 from George Mason.

McGhee said she misses the busy routine of her younger days on the fields and courts around the area.

“I really miss sports right now, the competitiveness of it all,” she said. “Even seeing a soccer ball lying around, I want to pick it up. I’m curious if I can throw it in as far. I just can’t help but wonder if I still have got it a little bit.”

ALL-DECADE FIRST TEAM

ALL-DECADE SECOND TEAM

ALL-DECADE THIRD TEAM

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