Despite graduating from St. Mary’s High School over a decade ago, 31-year-old Kristen McCarthy remains haunted by a field hockey goal she missed during her time there as a Spartan.
“The goal would have been a tiebreaker, potentially leading to my alma mater’s first appearance at State Sectionals since 1991,” McCarthy explains. “But the goalie was down when all-county inner Alex Dowd passed the ball to me for a wide open flick, and that allowed our arch rival, the Incarnate Heart Dragons, to defeat us 1-0.”
St. Mary’s never really had the personnel to compete for State again, and McCarthy has thought about this every single day for the last 14 years—at the office, on the train, and even during childbirth.
Just last week, while giving a presentation for her medical device company on a new pacemaker that could potentially save thousands of lives each year, McCarthy’s brain wandered once again to the missed goal: Had she set the ball before swinging would she have made the shot? There was time. The goalie was down. She tried to do too much.
The medical device McCarthy was advocating for did not get FDA approval, perhaps because she had stopped paying attention during her own presentation,
“It was just one game. I’m a mom with a career now,” McCarthy says. “I’m sure I’m the only one who remembers.”
However, that’s far from the case. The aforementioned inner Alex Dowd also remembers watching McCarthy miss the goal. While on break from her job as a neurosurgeon, Dowd reminisced.
“K-Mac was just so wide open. I still can’t believe it, but it just wasn’t a good day for the Spartans, and don’t even get me started on Quinn,” Dowd says, referring to sweeper Quinn Holdsclaw, who was wildly out of position on Incarnate Heart’s game-winning goal. Though Holdsclaw went on to walk-on at Old Dominion, both McCarthy and Dowd never really regained respect for her game.
Now a mom of one daughter who is expecting a second child, McCarthy tries to focus on the future. “I just hope my daughters grow up happy and healthy and capable of bringing home a state championship for St. Mary’s. Yes, I’m still thinking about field hockey.”
Somewhat incapable of dwelling on other memories, McCarthy has begun to confront her problems with anxiety and repetitive thinking through therapy and journaling. A quick glance at McCarthy’s journal revealed it was just doodles of “Go Spartans, Beat Dragons!” over and over again, approximately 1,000 times.