Stafford Leader Southern Fall Sports Previews

Give Her a Song to Sing and Megan Lockwood Works Wonders on Soccer Field

‘Amazing Team Player... a Great Leader’
By DAVID BIGGY | Sep 13, 2019
Photo by: David Biggy PASS OR SHOOT: Either way, record-setting Megan Lockwood defines the Southern Regional girls soccer offense.

Stafford Township — It may not be around these days, but at one time in history there once was a T-shirt that proclaimed, “Soccer is life. The rest is just details.”

If anybody at Southern Regional High School should be wearing that retro shirt, it’s Megan Lockwood.

“I’ve been playing since I was 2 or 3, and I’ve always loved the game,” said the senior center midfielder, who has been an integral part of the Rams’ girls soccer program since she first stepped onto the field as a freshman. Last season, she broke the program’s all-time scoring mark.

“I do other things, sometimes. I’m the senior class treasurer. And I’m in the National Honor Society. I get involved in things. But soccer is the main thing. Everything else goes around that.”

Hence, the reason she just had to get back on the field seven months after she tore the ACL in one of her knees at the end of last season.

“That sucked, first off,” she said with a chuckle. “But the recovery wasn’t too terrible after the surgery, because I had a really great physical therapy team at AtlantiCare. My doctor cleared me early in June after I talked with him for a little bit.”

The depth of that conversation, according to Lockwood, was limited.

“He wanted to clear me in September, and I was like, ‘Um, I can’t do that.’ For me, my senior year was coming and I had to get back on the field to be ready for it. He said, ‘Well, for now, we’ll be chill with it.’ And I said, ‘No. There’s no chill to any of this. I have to get on the field.’

“He finally let me go early.”

“It’s not 100 percent yet,” she said of the ACL. “But I’m powering through it right now.”

It’s that kind of commitment to her game and teammates that makes Lockwood a special player. As a freshman, she tore up the back of the net, scoring a load of goals as the Rams started a rebuilding process around her soccer ability. When Kaitlyn Hartkopf took over as head coach the following fall, she moved the hard-working and dynamic Megan to the center of the field, where she not only could utilize her goal-scoring prowess but her field vision and distribution ability.

“Megan’s come along since then, and she already had such a high soccer IQ before that,” Hartkopf said. “She became the change we needed, the presence we needed. She’s become a playmaker and a game changer. If I need her to put the ball in the back of the net, she does it. If I need her to distribute the ball, she does it. She’s an amazing team player and a great leader, and she’s really adapted well to the players we’ve had on the team over the years.”

How she has gone about adapting to those around her is somewhat comical, too.

“When I’m out there, I’m usually singing a song to myself,” Lockwood said. “Then I see the ball and I’m like, ‘Oh, there’s the ball. I can send it to her; or I can send it to her; or here’s a shot I can take.’

“I try to have the next step in mind. Because if I don’t, I’ll just dribble the ball around like an idiot.

“I don’t realize it when I’m on the field, but I’ve memorized how everybody runs and needs the ball. I’ve figured out how everybody around me plays, and even if they switch up their runs a little, I’ll find a way to get them the ball.”

Not surprising, it’s that kind of confidence and desire to lead that separates Lockwood from others. Of course, that kind of confidence and leadership ability has been cultivated within the confines of her vast soccer family – starting with her dad, Guy Lockwood, not just a former star when he played at Southern in the late 1980s but now also the boys soccer team coach.

“It’s nice to have him around, knowing he knows what the game is about and how to play it,” she said. “It’s a lot better than having a parent who just talks about things, and doesn’t know the game. When he tells me things, he’s right. And it’s great.

“He’s been a huge benefit to me, because I want to know how to be better, and he can tell me.”

That personal coaching and desire to be great has made Megan one of the best female soccer players the program has ever had. When other teams play the Rams, much of the opposing players’ conversations on the field are on recognizing where No. 5 is located. Yet even when they know, it rarely stops her from doing what she does best.

So, besides extending her all-time scoring mark, her next targets are the single-season and all-time assist records. But above all else, she just wants her team to win as many games as possible this season and hopefully grab a division and an NJSIAA sectional title along the way.

“Confidence is a big part of everything,” she said. “I’m a leader, but I’m not trying to be a control freak. Soccer is a true team game. And I love the connections I make with my teammates. They’re awesome, and I want them to be great.

“Sometimes I have to be vocal. But other times I can just be the presence that gives the rest of the team confidence, knowing that I’m there to help them.”

biggy@thesandpaper.net

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