It isn't often that you meet someone named Lucky, but the name Lucky is very fitting for Dartmouth men's soccer player Lucky Mkosana. Mkosana, hails from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe and "luckily" made his way to the Dartmouth and has been re-writing the record books ever since.
Mkosana's journey to Dartmouth and the United States is a story in itself. Mkosana caught the eye of the Dartmouth coaches at a collegiate showcase in his native Zimbabwe. He played well enough to impress the Dartmouth coaches and after spending some time at Kimball Union Academy in nearby Meriden, N.H., made his way to Dartmouth and has been making every moment on the soccer pitch count, including leading the Big Green to a share of the 2011 Ivy League title.
"He has had a fantastic career and I think when it's all said and done, he's going to be considered as one of the best players to have play soccer at Dartmouth."
The senior captain, who this season has been named Ivy League Player of the Week and ECAC Player of the Week, has received just about every soccer accolade in his four-year career. He is a three-time All-Ivy First Team selection and National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) All-Northeast selection but for Lucky the individual accolades don't mean much without team success.
"I'm grateful for the awards and what they mean about my play as an individual but really the most important thing for me is what it means for the team. It motivates us and reminds us that in order to keep winning awards we need to keep working hard as we move throughout the season"
Last season, the Big Green came one overtime goal from reaching the NCAA quarterfinals and that heartbreaking loss has fueled Mkosana and the Dartmouth squad this season.
"The loss to UCLA last season, made us realize that we need to work hard to the very last minute and that's something that we're working on this season."
The Big Green is doing their best to not have that same heartbreak this year. Despite a tough preseason schedule which featured six teams that advanced to the NCAA in 2010, the Big Green have weathered the storm and clinched its ninth Ivy League title and are headed back to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth consecutive season. Mkosana has played a large part in getting the Big Green to where they are.
This season, Mkosana has continued where he left off last season. He leads the Dartmouth offense with 10 goals this season and is currently ranked No. 20 in the national rankings with 0.63 goals per game. With his 10 goals this season, he broke Dartmouth's all-time scoring record and now has 34 career goals. To put things in perspective, the career goals record, formerly held by Bob Drawbaugh, had been intact since 1953, meaning Mkosana accomplished something that hasn't been done in over five decades. He also became Dartmouth's all-time points leader with 79 career points. He moved ahead of former Big Green soccer player Vladdy Stanojevic, who played at Dartmouth from 1986-89 and had 77 career points.
"Lucky's arrival coinsided with the development of Burnham Field and it was a perfect marriage of a very special player and a facility that draws people to it," said head coach Jeff Cook. He's a player that has the ability to transform games and get people on the edge of their seats. Every time he touches the ball there is this sense of excitement. As a young man, he is exceptional in terms of his character. He's humble, he does well in school and really honestly you wouldn't want anyone else representing your program and we are very proud to have him."
Scoring is something that comes pretty easy to Mkosana and he likes to put on a show with it at times, something that is often done during soccer games in his native Zimbabwe. Big Green soccer fans are often treated to Mkosana's Zimbabwean "flair" in games as he often makes dazzling moves with his feet in the opponents box and also has a knack for making the beautiful pass to his teammates.
"The primary difference between soccer here in the states and in Zimbabwe, is that it's like a show in Zimbabwe. It's more of a performance when you play to excite the crowd, but here in the states it much more physical and technical more of a grind to the game."
As a senior Mkosana is beginning to think about what he wants to do after graduation and although it's a little ways away, he does know that he wants to continue his playing career.
"I can't believe that I'm a senior, it has gone by so fast. I'm trying to enjoy every moment that I have left here at Dartmouth and really trying not to look ahead but I do know that I want to be playing professionally when it's all said and done. I'm not really sure how it's going to happen but I know that whether it's in the MLS or overseas or maybe even back in Zimbabwe, I'm going to try and make that a reality."
Mkosana has earned the respect of his coaches and teammates and was named a captain earlier this year and shares the duties with classmate Nick Pappas. The soft spoken forward, is not one to be extremely vocal but he does lead by example and it seems to be working.
As of late, Mkosana has seen his teammates step up on both ends of the field and despite not scoring in the last several games has seen his teammates emulate his hard work, which is pretty "lucky" for everyone involved.