Lake Norman's Taylor Waters likes to achieve the goals she sets for herself.
For the all-state center midfielder, most of those goals go into the back of the net.
Waters is a prolific scorer, with 56 goals in about 21/2 years as a Wildcat, putting her on pace to be one of the most productive players in school history.
Waters' game is not based only on scoring; the reigning I-Meck Player of the Year had 10 assists last season and seven this year. That's also important for the junior.
Never miss a local story.
"My freshman and sophomore year, when I was a center forward, everybody looked for me to score," said Waters. "This year, my teammates are also looking to me to make plays happen, to set people up."
While it may seem like an adjustment, Lake Norman soccer coach Jon Mertes said the midfield is Waters' natural position.
"Center-mid is probably her true position," said Mertes. "She plays there in club and so this is nothing new to her. She has the freedom to roam between the midfield as well as up top given the situation."
The situation often calls for Waters to create offense, whether it is for herself - as she already had scored 10 goals in eight games - or for her teammates this season.
Waters had 25 goals as a freshman and 21 last season, and is developing into an equally talented playmaker.
"Taylor's best quality is her strength on the ball," said Mertes. "She can take anyone on one-on-one. She also has a vision of the field that most players don't see, and that allows her to create a lot of offense for our team."
Waters and the Wildcat offense have been potent early in the season, averaging more than eight goals per contest. Lake Norman (9-0, 5-0 as of March 24) has outscored opponents 43-3, including 17-0 in I-Meck play.
While Waters and her Lake Norman team have been strong, they haven't been without adversity, as standout defender Sydney Foushee went down with a torn ACL while senior forward Kelsey Palmer suffered a concussion. Foushee is out for the year, while Palmer will be out for at least the next week.
"It was tough to go through those injuries and see your friends go down," said Waters." Everyone was down at first, but we have to keep our heads up and focus on all the things we want to achieve this season."
Lake Norman's focus is to win an I-Meck title and contend for a state championship.
"Winning a state title is definitely our main goal," said Waters. "We feel like it is our time to do it."
Mertes agreed: "We have the talent and experience to be as good as anyone in the state," he said.
A big boost for the team is its experience. Waters is just one of nine starters who return from last year's 19-3-2 team that advanced to the 4A state quarterfinals before losing to eventual champion North Mecklenburg.
Five of those nine starters are committed to college soccer teams, headlined by Waters' recent commitment to Wake Forest and including Megan Curran (Gardner-Webb), Lizzie Graham (Brevard), Allye Mertes (UNC Wilmington) and Kelsey Palmer (UNC Asheville). Juniors Sydney Foushee and Jenna Weston, as well as sophomore Kendall Fischlein, are sure to make college commitments in the near future.
But on a team this talented, Waters still stands out.
"Taylor is very self-motivated and very competitive in every game, and even in practice," said Mertes. "When you go head-to-head against Taylor in a game or in a drill, she takes it very personally. That is what makes her so good, and what continues to make her even better."
Waters agrees with her coach.
"I strive to get better every day," she said. "I don't feel like I have accomplished all the things that I can."