Q: Did you expect to have as good of a season as you did this year?
A: To be honest with you, no. It sort of just happened like that. The people that we lost, that was a big thing, and then who’s gonna play where were the missing pieces that we were trying to figure out. I didn’t know if I would play the same position, or if I would play attacking mid. If I was playing attacking mid, I definitely wouldn’t have scored 42 goals.
Q: Was there any more pressure on you this year to deliver more goals or assists or anything like that?
A: I don’t think so. I scored 42, but all together we scored [over 100], so there wasn’t a lot of pressure to score goals.
Q: What were some of your favorite moments this season?
A: My No. 1 standout was reaching 100 [career] goals, and that was in [our first Region 2C game] against Appomattox. We won 7-1, and I had three [goals]. That was probably the highlight of my career.
Q: Do you remember what you thought in that moment?
A: I screamed, “Oh my God.” And I kind of ran and stopped, and Casey [Widdifield] came and hugged me.
Q: Was that always your goal, to get to 100?
A: Oh yeah. Since freshman year.
Q: Was your first goal to hit that 100-goal mark, or was your first aim to break the school record?
A: The first goal was to beat the school record. Then … [I] kind of secured it. Like, nobody is gonna reach 99 goals. Then [my final goal] came in the last five minutes [against Appomattox]. [I was out of the game] and I was like, “Hey, Coach, you’re never gonna believe this, but I’m sitting at 99 goals. At five minutes, can I go in at attacking mid and maybe get the last one?” He was like, “Sure.” … It deflected off the defender and I caught it with me knee, and I just volleyed it in. I was just like, “Oh my God, it’s going in.”
Q: So going into your senior year, you still needed a lot of goals to get to that point. Did you ever think at the end of your junior season, maybe I won’t set the school record or get to 100, but if I get a certain number of goals, I’ll still be OK?
A: I told myself at the beginning of the year, if I average two a game, slip in maybe three or four against Galileo, maybe I can hit it. There was hope, but there wasn’t as much hope as there was when I was [close].
Q: You had to overcome a knee injury (a torn medial collateral ligament) during your career, too. When did you actually suffer that?
A: I had surgery in November 2017 [before my junior season]. … [After I hurt it in a travel game], I drove myself home, and I woke up the next morning and couldn’t put any weight on it. I was almost in tears it hurt so bad.
Q: Did you expect to be able to come back as quickly as you did?
A: I think it was three months all together from surgery time to me playing my first scrimmage [my junior year]. That goes to my doctors, my physical therapists, they were awesome. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have been able to be where I was.
Q: Obviously you’ve become even more of a goal-scorer this year, but are there other things you’ve improved on this year?
A: Getting down in the flanks and setting up my teammates. … Everybody was involved.
Q: Do you have any regrets about your season or your career?
A: Not at all.
Q: Were there moments or big games or accomplishments that stood out to you this season?
A: Well, this. All-area player of the year. It’s kind of a big thing for me. Ever since Adam Vaughan [Appomattox] won it two years ago, I was like, “That’s what I want.” … I feel like our best game was our region game against Appomattox.
Q: What’s something you’ve learned in your career?
A: Don’t underestimate people. We played Appomattox and only beat them 3-0 [in our second game against them] this year. That was kind of a [realization to not] underestimate people, because we beat them 7-0 the first time.
Q: What’d you learn about yourself throughout your career?
A: That my injury, I don’t have to worry about that anymore. [It won’t] hold me back from being the player that I know I can be.
Q: Outside of the school goals record, what do you hope your legacy is at Nelson?
A: So after I scored my 100th goal, my little sister, Bryn, she came up to me and I was like, “I want you to break my record.” I want it to stand the test of time until she comes along and breaks it. That would be amazing for me to see her following in my footsteps. ... I want people to remember me as a fun person to be around and practice with, but also serious when it’s time to be serious. I was definitely the more serious of the [three] captains this year, like, “Let’s get to work.”
Q: What kind of advice would you have for your teammates at Nelson or younger soccer players in general?
A: Don’t let how big you are or how small you are define you. I’ve always been told, “You’re too little to play soccer.” [I’m] 5-foot-6. And I was just like, “I can play. I can handle myself.” No matter how little or big or whether someone tells me that you can’t, you can.
Q: What do you enjoy doing outside of soccer?
A: I go fishing.
Q: What are you doing this summer?
A: Do my workouts for [Randolph] coach [Adam] Godwin. I’ve done that every day, and it’s been kicking my butt, not gonna lie. Then I have a shadowing program for a week, when I shadow an orthopedic surgeon. Ever since my surgery, I always thought it was cool. Seeing the X-rays of the screws in my leg, I was just like, “Oh my gosh, that’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.
Q: What’s your dream vacation?
A: Bora Bora, for sure.
Q: What’s your favorite subject?
Q: What’s your favorite movie?
Q: What’s your favorite sports movie?
A: “White Men Can’t Jump.” … I do love “Rudy,” too.
Q: Who’s your favorite athlete?
A: I’ve gotta say Lionel Messi. He’s the greatest soccer player on the earth.
Q: If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be?
A: Probably David Beckham.
Q: What would you ask him?
A: “Can you teach me how to do a free kick, how to bend it like you?”
Emily Brown covers the Hillcats, ODAC and high school sports for The News & Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5529.