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November 7, 2022

In First Season at St. Francis College, Goalkeeper McLachlan Feels Validated in Decision to Come to the U.S.

By John Wagoner
Alec McLachlan
Soccer goalkeeper Alec McLachlan

Leaving home for college is never easy for a student-athlete, and the challenges of leaving behind your family and friends are multiplied when your new school is more than 3,000 miles away.

For freshman goalkeeper Alec McLachlan, the bright lights of Brooklyn and the chance to be part of the St. Francis College (SFC) men’s soccer program was enough to convince him to make the 3,300-mile journey from his hometown of Stockport, England.

“We’re a program that wins a lot, a very competitive program, and that’s [part of] what attracted me,” said McLachlan.

A collegiate career in the United States was not always in the cards for McLachlan, who spent three years as part of the Blackpool Football Club Academy system before his decision to pursue the opportunity to become a Division I student-athlete.

McLachlan found success at Blackpool, helping his academy team to the quarterfinals of the 2021-2022 FA Youth Cup, England’s largest domestic tournament. He had the opportunity to stand in net at one of the nation’s premier stadiums, Stamford Bridge, the home of Chelsea Football Club.

By the end of the season, McLachlan desired something larger regarding his athletic career: the chance to earn a college degree in the process. Once he explored his options across the pond, there was just one choice for him.

“Once I chose to come to America, St. Francis was the first choice.”

Throughout his first season with SFC, the England native has kept in touch with his roots, supporting his hometown team, Manchester United, when he can and talking to his family every day. The McLachlans have created a strong support system for Alec from across the pond, despite him straying from the family trade.

McLachlan comes from a family of musicians, with each of his two brothers and two sisters currently receiving musical education in England and both of his parents teaching music and serving as professional musicians. Despite growing up in a household with three pianos, the music bug never bit McLachlan.

“I think they enjoy that I’m not just playing music. They enjoy that I’m doing something different, so it’s quite cool,” said McLachlan.

While he admits he was overwhelmed by the sheer size of his new home in Brooklyn Heights, the scale of the city could not stop McLachlan from bringing the same level of success on the field in his new home. One of his first stops after arriving in Brooklyn on August 2 was a trip to the patch of turf he would become very familiar with over the course of the following months: Pier 5 in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

“I looked at that view for ages, because it’s unreal, especially the first time you see it,” said McLachlan. The shining lights of downtown Manhattan cemented McLachlan in his new locale and set the stage for the big season he had ahead of him.

After competing for a starting spot in goal along the banks of the East River, McLachlan made his collegiate debut along the banks of the Severn River in Annapolis, Maryland, against Navy on September 4. He stood strong against the Midshipmen in his first action, preserving a 2-2 tie with three saves. He would start all but two of the remaining games of the regular season.

Head coach Tom Giovatto said McLachlan cemented himself as the team’s starting keeper after a 3-0 shutout of Brown, his first win in goal. Giovatto says McLachlan’s play is highlighted by his “excellent” distribution of the ball and credits his two other goalkeepers, David Santiago and Flannan Riley, for keeping one another sharp throughout the season.

McLachlan went on to announce himself as one of the top freshman goalkeepers in all of Division I men’s soccer. At the conclusion of the regular season, he ranked 24th in the nation and third among all rookies, with six shutouts. His goals against average, .787, is third among freshmen and 18th across all goalies.

While McLachlan may not be stepping on to a stage anytime soon, like other members of his immediate family, he has found his place with the Terriers as a conductor in his own right, calling out direction and motivation to his teammates from his net as the Terriers head into another NEC Tournament appearance.

Editor's note: John Wagoner is the Director of Athletic Communications and New Media at St. Francis College.

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