Trevor McEachron: Head of Defense
Oct. 6, 2003
As the weather changes, and the thick, humid Virginia summer turns into the thin, crisp chilly fall; the no. 3 ranked Old Dominion men's soccer team remains hot. And the heat that keeps the Monarchs' fire from subsiding is junior Trevor McEachron.
The 6-2 defender from Woodbridge, Va. was named National Player of the Week by SoccerTimes.com and CollegeSoccerNews.com after Old Dominion wins over #19 California and #5 Stanford. He is also a big reason why Old Dominion has not allowed a goal in their eight matches this season. McEachron, pronounced Mc-ek-ron, helped the Monarchs from being unranked in the preseason polls to the school's record of third in the country.
"I haven't seen anyone better so far, but he still has a lot to learn," said assistant coach Mark Waite. "The way he's going, there won't be a better defender in the country."
McEachron is not only the backbone of the Monarchs defense but also the team. "He's a great leader," said head coach Alan Dawson. "He leads by example. He's very strong and a real winner. When we need to step it up in games, we can rely on Trevor to be there for us. He steps up everyone else's game as well."
McEachron's defense was the catalyst for the ODU's shutout victory over #5 Wake Forest, who defeated the Monarchs in the second round of last year's NCAA tournament. Old Dominion was previously 1-8 against Wake before this season.
During the Stihl Soccer Classic tournament, McEachron scored the game-winning goal with five minutes left in the match to defeat a tough American University squad, 1-0. Two games later, he recorded a defensive save against previously unbeaten Maryland Baltimore County that prevented a tie and preserved their seven-game shutout streak.
"He's the most physical defender in the United States, period," Dawson said. "We've seen some pretty good teams. He's as dominating of a defender that I have seen in college soccer. He's the best that I've ever coached."
Coach Dawson is not the only one who thinks that McEachron is one of the best. The business management major has been honored by numerous respected soccer organizations such as Soccer Times, Soccer America, and College Soccer News. He has also earned two tournament MVPs and All National Team of the Week honors.
"I have a good physical advantage over most players," McEachron said. "I'm tall, fast, and strong. I'm very competitive, and I'm always determined to win." In practice, teammate Attila Vendegh lines up for a corner kick and sends the ball a couple of feet in front of the goal box just high enough for McEachron to reach. McEachron still had to get position and out jump three surrounding defenders. He headed the ball over goalkeeper John Connelly for the score.
That was only practice, however. But McEachron makes even the games look like practice. That defensive dominance has earned him unprecedented praise. McEachron has been the only defender to be named National Player of the Week by the SoccerTimes.com and CollegeSoccerNews.com in the last three years. In addition to his national honors he is also the only player this year to win the Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Week award twice. He has won these awards even without scoring a goal or recording an assist during the week.
Not many players in sports can dominate a game without scoring a point. Take basketball for example.
Boston Celtic great Bill Russell was one of the few players in sports who could dominate a game on the defensive side of the ball. He revolutionalized NBA defensive concept with his shot blocking and rebounding. Russell's defensive play earned him 11 NBA Championships, six league MVPs, and 12 All-Star appearances.
Long time Detroit Piston, Dennis Rodman, was another player who could dominate game defensively. The 6-7, 230 lb Rodman helped the Pistons and Chicago Bulls win five NBA titles, totally taking future Hall of Famers Karl Malone (6-9, 256 lbs) and Shaquille O'Neal (7-1, 336 lbs) out of games during the Finals. Rodman averaged a little over seven points per game for his career.
The common denominators that McEachron shares with these two NBA greats are size, strength, and quickness. But McEachron compares his role and style of play to another Detroit Piston forward.
"I can compare it to basketball, especially Ben Wallace's kind of play," he said. "Ben Wallace doesn't get involved too much in the offense, he's more of a defensive player." Wallace, the afro-wearing forward, is a two-time Defensive Player of the Year and a NBA All-Star.
"He's not too skillful; he's not taking the jump shots or dribbling. And I'm basically the same way. I'm back there playing defense, making sure the other team doesn't score. I'm not creating plays. I'm not necessarily trying to score."
McEachron has three goals which ties him for 10th in the CAA-a conference that has or had three different school ranked in the top twenty this season. His three goals are also the most for any defender in the conference.
McEachron, however, is not solely responsible for the Monarchs current eight-game shutout streak. Bryan Kluckman and Ian Kaila have played with McEachron in the backfield for the past three seasons. The defensive trio has held the opposition to one goal or less 17 times over the past two seasons, including 11 shutouts. They have been heralded by CollegeSoccerNews.com as one of the best five backlines in the country.
"Our defense has been playing together since our freshmen year," he said. "It's a lot of chemistry and we know each other very well. We're just playing ball together, and we're confident about how we're playing."
Coach Dawson says that the main difference in McEachron's play in the past two seasons is his maturity and confidence although he is the same tough, physical player as he has always been. McEachron also agrees.
"It's not much difference (between this year and last year)," he said. "I'm still playing with as much confidence as before, and I still have my same skill level. I'm playing smarter. I'm thinking more. I'm using my brain more than just my physical attributes." McEachron uses his head by drawing people offsides instead of chasing the ball.
"It saves me energy," he said. "I've become a better player by reading the game more."
That energy will be much needed when the Monarchs play the rest of their tough schedule.
The team has already played three ranked opponents and has two other ranked teams left on their schedule, #14 William and Mary, who is coming of a win over previous #7 Virginia, and VCU, who is ranked as high a 24 in national polls and has been ranked as high as 11th in preseason polls.
"We're not scared of anyone," McEachron said. "(The team) talks about how we would love to play UCLA or Maryland right now because they're the only team ranked higher than us. We're always looking for a challenge and whoever were going to player, we're going to be ready to play."
"We just feel like we can beat anyone in the country."
McEachron wants to be a First-Team All-American, but he won't let his personal goals interfere with the team quest for a national title.
"The success of the team is based on the team itself. If the team is playing together, then we're playing well. It's not just a one player, it's the team and coaching staff responsible for our success."