Courtney Carroll has gotten better each season of her Hough soccer career.The four-year Husky starter has evolved from a promising freshman into an all-state playmaker with a school-record 55 goals 42 assists in her career.While Carroll, 18, has made big plays at a dizzying pace for a Husky team that is 82-7-3 in their four-year history, it was one of her first misfires that has helped define the player she has become today. That play came in her freshman year, when Hough and Ardrey Kell’s 4A state semifinal match went to penalty kicks.Carroll was the only Hough freshman whom coach David Smith asked to take one of the pressure-packed shots. But Carroll’s shot was saved and ended up being the only one not to make it as Ardrey Kell won 5-4 in penalty kicks to move onto the state championship game. “That (Ardrey Kell game) was a really tough moment for me and it stayed with me for awhile after the season,” said Carroll, who had a strong freshman season with six goals and nine assists. “But it also allowed me to realize that I was going to make mistakes. But what really was going to define me and our team was how we responded (to adversity). Looking back, I think it really motivated me because I never wanted to walk off the field with that feeling again.”Carroll says her older teammates, like former Hough standouts Allison Stearns, Hannah Robinson and Emily Rusk, also helped her move on.The then Hough sophomore, who has been playing soccer nearly year-round since she was 4 years old, worked tirelessly all offseason, playing for the Charlotte Soccer Academy Elite Club National League team.Carroll came back stronger than ever as a part of a loaded 2012 Huskies team that went 26-0-1 overall, getting all the way to the 4A state championship in only their second year as a program.Carroll made the most of her championship moment this time, finding her teammate and best friend Sarah Moon for the game-winning goal in her team’s 2-1 win over Cary Green Hope.Hough was ranked No. 1 in the nation after the win in ESPN’s Powerade FAB 50.“Courtney really responded her sophomore year and got even better and I think that game-winning assist in the state finals really put her on the state map,” Smith said. “It gave her even more confidence and even more momentum going forward.” Carroll stepped her game up even more as a junior, with both her numbers – 19 goals and 16 assists – and recognition growing. She earned all-conference, all-region and all-state honors for her work.But while she had a great junior season, the Huskies came up one win short of a repeat 4A state title, falling to the same Green Hope team 2-0.“We had a great season, but in that last game, I just feel like they wanted it just a little bit more than we did,” Carroll said. “But I think ... it has motivated us all offseason to come back and want a state championship even more than we ever did.”Carroll, 5-foot-7, didn’t waste any time getting started her senior season, scoring two goals in a season-opening 2-2 tie with Providence High (now 14-0-1 and No. 2 in the state), two goals in the 3-2 win over rival Lake Norman in the second game of the season, and notching two assists in following win over Mooresville.Carroll has also had a three-goal game in a win over North Mecklenburg and three goals and three assists in a triumph over A.L. Brown.While her 19 goals and 11 assists lead the team in both categories, the only numbers that really matter to Carroll are her team’s wins. Hough was 13-0-1 (9-0 MECKA 4A) going into spring break.The Huskies have been dominant, outscoring their competition 67-6 so far this season.Carroll makes most of her plays from her attacking center midfielder position. She can also move into the forward spot, where she has started at different times in her career, and could even play defense if needed, according to Smith.“Courtney is playing with more confidence than ever,” Smith said. “As many plays as she makes, sometimes she is too unselfish. Sometimes we have to tell her to be more aggressive and have that killer instinct (individually), especially in the offensive third of the field.”While Carroll’s focus is on helping her talented team win another state championship, she is also looking forward to the next phase of academic and athletic career.The 4.4 GPA student and student body treasurer is signed to play soccer at the University of Mississippi, the same school her sister, Mackenzie, attends.Hough goalkeeper Marnie Merritt and Lake Norman’s Amanda Karlsson also signed with Ole Miss.“Ole Miss is going to be a new stage in my life and I’m excited to see if I take my game to another level,” Carroll said. “While I’m looking forward to a new opportunity and a new experience, it will be nice to have Mackenzie there and Marnie and Amanda on the team. I feel like we all have the potential to get even better.”
Tuesday, Apr. 22, 2014
Carroll making another big play for Huskies
Jay Edwards is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Jay? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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