As a defender, Sarah Carter prefers to stay out of the spotlight. That way, she can attack from the back.
Yet ironically, that tactic has earned the Sumner senior plenty of accolades this season – and an NCAA Division I soccer scholarship.
“It feels great, but I wasn’t expecting to accomplish this much,” said Carter, who will play at Gonzaga next year. “This year, I’ve gotten some (attention), but I have never played hoping to get recognized.”
At Sumner, the top-ranked Class 2A team in the state, Carter anchors a defense that has given up just one goal this season, to Orting.
“Some people think the best thing is to score a goal, but I love saving goals,” she said. “A huge tackle is just as exciting to me as scoring a huge goal.”
Sumner coach Robi Turley said that Carter has always been “a silent leader.” She has been a team captain for the Spartans for two seasons and is a three-year SPSL first team all-league performer.
“She’s super competitive,” said Turley, who has coached Carter on and off since she was 8. “No matter if we’re killing a team, 8-0, or playing a team close in the playoffs, she always wants more, and she’s very poised out on the field.
“She never gets frazzled or frustrated, even if it’s a bad game. She’s very calm, and very good at what she does.”
Seth Spidahl, who coaches Carter on her club team with the Washington Premier Football Club, said that he expects her to become a strong presence at Gonzaga.
“She has all of the physical tools to be a great Division I player,” he said. “She’s athletic, she’s fast, she heads the ball well, and she can strike from 50 or 60 yards out.”
And she can also draw the notice of the Seattle Seahawks.
Carter was recently selected as a CenturyLink High School Athlete of the Week. The award – which she said was a total surprise – came with a $1,000 grant for Sumner’s ASB fund.
“That was amazing,” she said. “It was a huge honor for myself, my school and my team.”
She was honored during last Sunday’s game at CenturyLink Field, and Sumner also held an assembly in Carter’s honor.
“That was crazy,” she said. “It was just me in front of the whole school.”
Turley said that defenders are more used to being in the background.
“It’s more of a self-gratification position,” she said. “You’ve got to know you’re doing your job and that you don’t get a lot of praise. Forwards and midfielders are more explicit – there are stats to go along with them.”
Carter started playing soccer at age 5 and joined her first club team three years later, suiting up at defender with girls 2 years older.
“I honestly have just always loved it,” she said. “I’ve never thought of stopping playing. I’m really competitive, and I love team sports.
“In other sports, like basketball, it’s constant scoring, but in soccer, you work together and work so hard and finally score. I have never been an individual-sport person. I like having a team to work with.”
Carter, who has a 3.95 grade-point average in the rigorous International Baccalaureate program, will attend Gonzaga on a combination of athletic and academic scholarships. She is considering nursing as a career – if she doesn’t go pro.
But first, she has a more immediate goal to focus on.
“It’s my senior year,” she said, “and I’m hoping to make it to the state championship game.” blog.thenewstribune.com/preps