McCoy nears national, state career saves records
LINCOLN–In his varsity soccer career at Alcona, Aaron Ritchie became the program’s new standard-bearer at keeper.
But even as he set new school records, Ritchie saw in Conner McCoy someone who had the potential to surpass him.
“When I first started training Conner, I immediately saw potential in him. He had the knack for goalkeeping,” Ritchie said. “He has great reaction to the ball and he is aware of the 18-yard box. He is always wanting to get better. From year to year when I was training him, he kept showing improvement and the want to get better. He has the drive to better himself and the drive to keep his team in the game.”
Now in his senior season at Alcona, McCoy has not only surpassed Ritchie, but with each save he makes, McCoy is drawing closer and closer to joining some elite company.
McCoy is currently 19 saves shy of becoming the all-time saves leader in Michigan and is also 19 saves shy of setting the national high school career saves record.
Both records are held Corky Hickmott, who played at Montrose from 2004-2007 and made 1,185 career saves.
The saves record is a long time coming for McCoy, who has become one of Michigan’s best keepers over a three-year career as a varsity starter. He set a new Michigan single-season saves record as a sophomore then topped that mark by 10 the next season.
“It’s interesting and kind of exciting. I’m counting down every save til I beat it. Of course I’m going to look forward to beating it and I’m super-psyched,” McCoy said. “I’ve got to thank my teammates and thank God for the luck I’ve been having and that I haven’t gotten hurt.”
Being a keeper is often a thankless job, but it’s a role that McCoy has embraced since taking over as a starter in his sophomore season. As a tall, athletic presence between the posts, McCoy has turned in many great performances for the Tigers and has left opponents and teammates alike in awe. His latest came on Tuesday, when he turned aside 28 shots in a 4-4 tie against Grayling.
“The things he does out there in that net are amazing,” senior Jordan Steiner said. “He’s like a stone wall in there and all the credit goes to him.”
He topped 1,000 career saves last month during a tournament in Alpena and has two of the top 10 single-game performances in the state. He stopped 34 shots in a game against Tawas last August and then bettered that mark less than two months later with a 35-save performance against Saginaw Nouvel.
Setting records and chasing other marks hasn’t slowed McCoy’s desire to improve however. In addition to doing crossfit training at home, McCoy has attended camps around the state and was chosen to participate in the Exact Sports Chicago Academic 50 ID Camp during the summer between his sophomore and junior years.
Approaching games with the right frame of mind is important for McCoy too. Regardless of the opponent or the game, he doesn’t take anything for granted.
“I play every game like it’s a new one and I expect that we can lose to any team,” McCoy said. “I play with a mindset of I want to win and I want my teammates to be happy. I don’t want to let them down.”
McCoy looked up to Ritchie during his varsity career from 2009-12 and watched as Ritchie set new school records for single-season (332) and career saves (442). But as he trained McCoy, Ritchie told him that if he continued to improve he had the chance to better Ritchie’s marks.
“He said if anyone could break his records and be as good as him, he (thought) I could do it,” Coy said.
McCoy didn’t wait long to prove Ritchie right. As a sophomore he helped the Tigers win a district title and set Michigan’s new single-season saves record with 391, breaking a record that stood for 11 years. As a junior, McCoy was even better, bettering his own record by 10 for a new record of 401 saves in 24 games, an average of 16.7 saves per contest.
While the saves record will serve as a high point in McCoy’s athletic career, he is also focused on helping the Tigers succeed. Alcona has won district championships in each of the last two seasons, but has been eliminated in each of the last two seasons in the regional semifinals.
With McCoy in net and Steiner leading the charge on offense, the Tigers are looking to change their fortunes when postseason play begins next month.
“We definitely have gotten better. At the beginning of the year, our coach (Tim Munro) even said we had the mid-season mentality,” McCoy said. “We’ve got aggressive (players), we’ve got good offense, we’ve got a solid defense and we’re taking and playing well.”
James Andersen can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.
Michigan’s career saves leaders
1,185–Corky Hickmott, Montrose (2004-07)
984–Gabriel Raymer, Caro (2008-10)
875–Brandon Wheeler, Caro (2002-05)
812–Brad Stroner, Lake Odessa Lakewood (2001-04)
811–Charles Phelps, Lake Odessa Lakewood (1999-01)
1,185–Corky Hickmott, Montrose (2004-07)
1,162–Nic Yonter, Marshfield, MO. (2008-11)
1,130–Nick Rowe, Moravia, NY. (1997-2000)
1,016–Shane Saylor, Wood River East Alton-W.R., IL. (2000-03)
1,016–Lucas Schilling, Centralia, IL (2002-05)
single-season saves leaders
401–Conner McCoy, Lincoln Alcona (24 games) (2016)
391–Conner McCoy, Lincoln Alcona (24 games) (2015)
390–Chris Gielda, Essexville Garber (2004)
383–Jason Kole, Wyoming Kelloggsville (2004)
352–Gabriel Raymer, Caro (2008)