STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
BURNET — When the Burnet High School girls soccer team finds itself down a goal, the Lady Dawgs pick up the intensity.
The player who typically gets her teammates to give more is senior forward Savannah McHam.
“A team will get down a goal, most other teams will shut down,” Burnet head coach Matthew Russell said. “But this team has never let that get them down. It’s huge. They look to even the score and eventually get ahead. And Savannah is usually leading the charge. It’s a team effort to do that, but (that opponent’s goal) adds fuel to the fire.”
That belief, confidence, and ability are some of the reasons why Concordia University offered McHam a roster spot.
The senior forward, who leads the Lady Dawgs in scoring with 55 goals this season, signed her National Letter of Intent to play soccer for the Austin school during a ceremony March 9.
“She is our go-to player for scoring,” Russell said. “I hope she’d be able to continue that on the college level, having natural instincts to score goals and being highly successful at that position.”
McHam attended several Concordia clinics, giving officials a chance to meet her and watch her play. They followed the athlete during the high school soccer season and while she played for club teams Georgetown Force and Austin Texans.
“They made her an offer she couldn’t refuse,” Russell said. “It’s a reputable program. I know they’ve been around for a very long time. It’s been a successful program.”
Russell was unsure if McHam will continue to play forward in college, but he hoped she would.
“That position for her has been a very good position,” he said. “She has a real nose for the goal.”
Russell noted that McHam’s passion to play soccer began when she was 4 years old after she attended a British soccer camp. Her dad, Jason McHam, was her first coach. Her mother is Janice McHam.
Jason McHam didn’t know much about soccer, but once he saw his daughter take a real interest in the sport, he began to learn everything he could about it.
The younger McHam is a founding member of the Lady Dawgs program, a student who passed a petition to get Burnet Consolidated Independent School District officials to add the sport to the high school athletics department three years ago. In its first season as a varsity program in 2017, the Lady Dawgs qualified for the playoffs and won a bi-district crown.
This season, her teammates chose her to be one of three players to serve as captain, a role in which she does well, Russell said. Sometimes, he allows the captains to speak during halftimes.
“She’s always had something to say to provide positive criticism,” he said. “She’s always leading the cheering, always leading the way.”
McHam plans to major in history with the goal of working in a museum or archives.
“Several times I’ve seen her, she’s reading a book on different things,” Russell said.