WINTER ALL-AREA: Carrillo named LCR's Girls Soccer Player of the Year
If Columbia coach Chip Garner were going to create a soccer player from scratch, Irene Carrillo would be the blueprint.
She can score, assist, defend — you name it — whether it’s with her feet or with her head.
Goals were aplenty for Columbia this season and Carrillo was the catalyst. She scored a team-high 19 and also dished out nine assists, all part of 78 total goals for the 2017-18 season.
Nobody was better than Carrillo in the District 2-4A quarterfinal win over Gainesville either, just the program’s second district tournament win in the last four seasons. Her total all-around game is why Carrillo is the Lake City Reporter’s Girls Soccer Player of the Year.
“I try my best not to build a team around a player but she makes it very, very difficult. She’s just a dynamic player,” Garner said. “You can put her anywhere and she’s going to be phenomenal at that position. She’s just the definition of what you’d want in a soccer player playing for you.”
“She could almost score on demand. It was kind of insane at times how she effective she was as a striker.”
Columbia’s 7-4 win over Gainesville in the district tournament is Carrillo’s top memory from her junior season and for plenty of reasons. She scored less than two minutes in to set the pace, just the beginning of her stellar night that ended with a hat trick.
It was also sweet revenge for the Lady Tigers, who lost to the Hurricanes just two weeks earlier.
“The way that we played and how we persisted and kept going and kept scoring goals, that allowed us to win. That’s what I enjoyed and remember from that game,” Carrillo said.
“After losing against them we were kind of upset so going into that third game it was huge for us. We said we can’t get kicked out of the district game to GHS when we’ve beaten them in the years before. It motivated us a lot more to beat them.”
Soccer was a love that bloomed at a young age for Carrillo. When she was only seven years old, she watched her older brother, Jorge, play travel soccer as well as high school ball. That made her grab her own pair of cleats and follow in his footsteps, not only at Columbia, but also her own travel team.
After spending time on GSA out of Jacksonville, she joined the Clay County Sol this past year. She says her Sol teammates, as well as her opponents, made her a better soccer player in her junior season.
“The players are really competitive and fast,” Carrillo said. “Their technique is phenomenal so that means since I’m playing with players who are as talented as me or even more talented than me, it pushes me to play at a higher level and work twice as hard.”
Columbia’s season ended in the district semifinals against Leon, a 4-0 loss that extended the program’s long playoff drought even further. But believe it or not, Garner says that match was his favorite memory of Carrillo this season, not necessarily for her play on the field, but for her leadership instead.
“We were down (4-0 at halftime) and she managed to rally that team and we held them the last half based on her spirit at halftime,” Garner said. “She really stepped up and rallied her troops behind her so that’s probably my favorite memory of Irene this year, just hearing her emotional investment in the game.”
As the team’s top offensive player, leader and captain, Carrillo hopes her senior season is one to remember, not just for herself but also for the program. She wants to set the school record for goals scored en route to leading the Lady Tigers to a long awaited trip to the postseason.
And for those top Tallahassee schools that sit in her path — Leon, Lincoln and Chiles — Carrillo welcomes their challenges.
“The district is pretty hard because most of those girls play travel soccer year round,” Carrillo said. “They play with each other so they’re really well connected so when it comes to those one-two passes, they already know where the player is going to be at. It’s not hard for them to play together and that’s the thing I think us as a team can kind of work on, being better connected so we can be as good as those Tallahassee teams and play as good as them.”
“I think we’ve built a good foundation as a team. Since we had a bunch of new starters and new players, I think building that bond is starting to grow a little bit.”
Fort White, Forward
Was the team’s offensive MVP this season and didn’t miss a game. Her five goals were tied for second most on the team.
Was an offensive force for the Tigers this season. She led the team in assists with 12 and was second on the team with 14 goals.
Kept her team in multiple games this seaosn with her play in the net. She posted six shutouts and finished the year with 167 saves.
Made key plays in the back end for the Tigers, earning the team’s defensive MVP award. She had three saves and even scored a goal on offense.
Fort White, Goalkeeper
Played through a chronic hip injury, playing the most minutes on the team without missing a game. She was the Indians’ defensive MVP with 164 saves.