TAMPA — From the moment Tampa Prep’s girls soccer season ended last year a block from campus at UT’s Pepin Stadium — one win from a state championship — coach Cindy Schofield knew the Terps’ biggest obstacle in getting back was filling the void left in goal.
Four-year starter Jordan Hatton, the rock of Tampa Prep’s poised defense, moved on to play at Appalachian State.
When this season began, next in line was senior MacKenzie Logan, who spotted Hatton for Tampa Prep’s first two regular-season games last year when Hatton sat out with a red card. But Logan, at the time the Terps’ starting stopper, never had considered herself a keeper.
Her move to the net this season was part common sense, part having little choice. But Logan is a major reason the Terps (19-5-2) are back in the Class 2A state final four for the fourth straight year and searching for their first state title since 2008.
“At first, we were kind of nervous because losing Jordan was a big blow to the team,” senior sweeper Isabel Dalence said. “But seeing how well she did the first couple games, it was kind of a foundation for the season.
“She filled the spot amazingly. I don’t know how she does it. She seems like she’s played there her whole life. She can talk. She’s so strong back there. It’s not a question mark anymore, that’s for sure.”
Logan, who notched two of her six shutouts in regionals, said she has fallen in love with the position. She got tired of playing in the field all those years, and the new challenge allowed a new leader to emerge on defense.
“She has gotten better and better as the season had gone on,” Schofield said. “She talks a lot. Which for us helps because she sees the field, she’s not afraid to be vocal. She will tell people where they need to be. She’s fearless, which is half the battle with a goalkeeper. If you’re an opposing forward I would watch out, because she’s not afraid to come out and she will get all ball.”
Logan admits she’s aggressive — and that coaches often tell her she jumps out too quickly — but she loves playing physically.
“I want to be the one to get to the ball,” she said.
Logan said she developed that fearlessness playing on the U-10 club soccer with all boys because there wasn’t a girls team.
“It was either toughen up or you’re not going to make it,” Logan said.
Dalence said Logan won a lot of her teammates over in Tampa Prep’s first preseason game, when she ran full force for a ball in the edge of the box, then came up holding her hand.
“She said her finger hurt and she took off her glove and her finger was dislocated and all pulled out to the side,” Dalence said.
She missed about three weeks and returned to the field with a cast on her hand.
Logan has benefited from having one of the state’s top back rows, which includes three seniors — Dalence and center backs Lauren Knoke and Caroline Cheek—- who were part of the 2008 state title team as freshmen.
She registered shutouts over two of Hillsborough County’s top teams — Steinbrenner and Bloomingdale — but her best game might have come in defeat, when she made a season-high 19 saves in a 2-0 loss to George Jenkins.
“She was the best player on the field,” Schofield said. “That’s when I think she really believed she could play at a high level. I think that’s when she got her confidence up.”
Schofield said Logan has begun to pick up college interest. University of Tampa coaches are expected to watch her Wednesday against Winter Park Trinity Prep.
As for Logan, her only regret is becoming a keeper so late in her prep career.
“I love goalie now,” she said. “I wish I had started it sooner. I just love it.”
All games at Pepin Stadium, University of Tampa. Finals will air on BHSN. Admission is $8 per session; parking is $5.
Gainesville St. Francis vs. Delray Beach American Heritage, 5 p.m.
2A semifinal: Tampa Prep vs. Winter Park Trinity Prep, 7:15 p.m.
Other local matchups
3A semifinal: Orlando Lake Highland Prep vs. St. Petersburg Catholic, 12:45 Thursday
4A semifinal: Steinbrenner vs. Harmony, 5:15 Thursday
5A semifinal: Newsome vs. Seminole, 12:45 Friday