Powerhouse Meaghan McElligott is proving to be the dynamo that sparks new NPL Queensland Women’s franchise Gold Coast United in the club’s debut season in the statewide competition.
McElligott, 22, has been a standout up front for United and is building a formidable lead in the race for Golden Boot honours.
Meg, as she prefers to be called, hit the net twice for United in their 3-3 draw away to Logan Lightning on Monday night.
The left wing specialist had 22 goals before the game and had a seven goal lead over The Gap star Tiarne Petterwood.
But the gap, excuse the play on words, between first and second on standings has now been stretched to seven goals with 15 matches left to play.
McElligott’s influence on United so far has been profound.
United have scored a team total of 39 goals. She has provided 24 of them, which represents 61.5 per cent of the total.
So far McElligott has had two hauls of six goals (against SWQ Thunder in round four and Western Pride in round eight) plus four goals against Capalaba in Round 10.
The next best United scorer is Mackenzie Akins, who sits on seven after also scoring against Logan. Between them McElligott and Akins have scored 31 goals, or 79.4 per cent of United’s scoring.
“I’d love to win the Golden Boot with United in the clubs first year and to feature in the finals – both could be good,” McElligott said.
“We definitely have to push to make the finals but I think we can do it, we just have to knuckle down in the second half of the season.”
Gold Coast Women are currently in eighth spot on the ladder, 10 points behind fourth-placed Moreton Bay United.
Getting United into a position is the first goal for McElligott. Establishing herself as a Westfield W-League regular with Brisbane Roar is the next.
“I’d also love to play overseas, possibly the UK, possibly Japan, maybe America again, just somewhere,” she said.
But topping McElligott’s bucket list is the green and gold of the Westfield Matildas.
“That’s the ultimate, that’s my life goal,” the 22-year-old declared.
The McElligott journey started as an eight-year-old who kicked her first ball in anger with the Port Macquarie Panthers after her parents, both American-born, moved from Sydney to the central Coast of New South Wales.
“I then played for Adamstown in the Newcastle Premier League in 2012, then I took a gap year off when I graduated and I went to America and Washington,” she said.
Back in Australia in 2014, McElligott played for the Central Coast Academy side in the Sydney NPL before she moved to the Gold Coast with her parents in 2015.
Her goal-scoring talents instantly surfaced when she joined the Palm Beach Sharks in the NPLQ competition.
Her maiden year for the Sharks produced 40 goals, five in open women and 35 in the Under 20s.
“I started that year in the open team at Palm Beach but then I kind of got pushed back to the 20s,” McElligott said.
“But the opens coach wanted me to play half-games for the 20s so I could sit on the bench for the main game.”
In 2016 the key attacker was among a number of Palm Beach girls to switch to Souths United in Brisbane and the following year she linked with US club Washington Spirit and was in that club’s reserves squad.
McElligott continues to be a member of Brisbane Roar’s Westfield W-League squad and hopes to finally cement a spot in the main squad for the 2018/19 season.
The fact she is completing a bachelor of sports development degree at Griffith University and she lives at Varsity Lakes on the Gold Coast led McElligott to sign with Gold Coast United.
“I had a decision to make for this year – to stay in the Roar program or sign with United, and I chose the latter,” she said.
Words: Terry Wilson
Images: Chris Simpson