It was two games into the 2013 season when Byram Hill’s girls soccer coach Mike Martino first realized how special of a player Bobcats’ sophomore forward Carly Barnett was.
Martino, who was named Byram Hill’s head coach late that summer, knew he had a talented player after the first day of practice, but the true depths of Barnett’s skills didn’t become apparent until that game at Eastchester.
Early in the second half the youngster beat two Eagles’ down the side and threaded a ball 60 yards across the field and through two defenders to a streaking Kacy Fishman, who finished it for a goal.
“The first thought that went through my head was, ‘Woah,’ ” Martino said. “There is no other word for it. I just turned around and I said, ‘Good god.’ ”
That play was one of many jaw droppers Barnett produced throughout the season. Whether it was an upper-corner goal from 20 yards out against Pearl River or some fancy footwork in the sectional final against Eastchester, whenever the ball was at Barnett’s feet something special was bound to happen.
The sophomore, who is The Journal News Westchester/Putnam player of the year, finished with 26 goals, a team high, and 14 assists en route to helping Byram Hills to a 20-2 record, the Class A sectional title and its first win in the state tournament in program history.
That deep through ball against the Eagles is the type of play Barnett lives for. Having the freedom to decide how to approach each situation on the pitch is why soccer has always been Barnett’s favorite sport.
“I just feel like on the soccer field you can express yourself in a different way,” Barnett said.
Throughout the season Barnett had the chance to express herself all over the field, playing in the back, middle and up top. Normally a forward, Barnett proved to be a utility player of sorts, filling in at whatever position the circumstances dictated.
A perfect example of how flexible a player Barnett is came in the sectional finals. Although she didn’t register a point in the game, she played a crucial role in the victory, switching to a holding midfield position to help the defense slow the Eagles’ offensive push after the Bobcats took an early 1-0 lead.
“Anytime when you have somebody that’s as well rounded and as versatile as Barnett you really do have an ace in the hole,” Martino said. “It’s almost an unbeatable hand, because no matter where you put her you’re gaining something.”
For all that Barnett has done in her first two years on varsity, Martino believes there is still plenty that still can be achieved.
“I still don’t think that Carly understands the full ability of what she’s capable of doing,” Martino said. “I think that that’s going to be the real wow factor for people to see in the upcoming seasons when Carly really is even more seasoned than she is right now.”
Barnett doesn’t shy away from the dirty work off the field either. She’s the first one to grab the ball bag after a game or help pick up cones after practice.
What makes Barnett so special might be the fact she doesn’t think she is.
“Star or no star, you still have a responsibility,” Barnett said. “To be honest, you’re no different from any other player on the team.”
The rest of The Journal News first-team all-stars:
Gk — Cali Schweikhart, Haldane: Schweikhart was stellar for the Blue Devils throughout the season, posting 12 shutouts and a 0.5 goals-against average. The senior, who is committed to Boston University, played her best down the stretch as she helped Haldane to the Class C state final.
D — Meredith Donovan, Bronxville: Donovan was the backbone of a solid Bronco defense. The senior missed the playoffs due to a knee injury suffered at the end of the season, but still played a vital role from the sidelines in helping Bronxville win its fourth straight Class B sectional title.
D — Campbell Fee, Pelham: The senior, who switched to center back from her traditional spot of center midfield, controlled the pace of the game for the Pelicans as they built from the back up. Fee, who will play at Kenyon College in the fall, also posted four goals and two assists.
D — Kiera Hennessy, Kennedy: The Drexel-bound senior sweeper was the key component to a Gaels’ defense that conceded five goals the entire season and reached the CHSAA state final. Hennessy also managed to score eight goals despite playing in the back.
D — Michelle Wienecke, Somers: A former center midfielder, the junior was a leader of the Tuskers’ stout defense at stopper. A tenacious player, Wienecke was named the League I-A player of the year.
M — Carolyn Casey, Somers: Casey, who will play at Bucknell in the fall, notched seven goals and nine assists. The senior was the quarterback of the Tuskers’ offense from her center midfield position.
M — Monica DiDonato, Eastchester: Not many midfielders covered more ground during the season than the senior, who seemingly did it all for the Eagles. DiDonato finished with 10 goals and 18 assists as she led the Eagles to the Class A sectional final.
F — Caitlin Fryer, Bronxville: The junior served as the Broncos’ top playmaker up top, tallying 15 goals, a team high, and six assists. Fryer was able to put up solid numbers despite consistently drawing double teams.
F — Nicole Hoffman, Byram Hills: Hoffman, along with Carly Barnett, was part of one of the most offensively potent duos in the section. The junior netted 22 goals, along with 16 assists, as she helped the Bobcats reach the regional finals for the first time in program history.
F — Fallon Sheridan, Ardsley: Sheridan’s 20 goals and eight assists are impressive enough before considering she missed the final six games of the season due to an injury. The junior, who has verbally committed to Yale, earned League II-C player-of-the-year honors thanks to a string of consecutive hat tricks in league play.
Coach of the year — Gary Van Asselt, Haldane: In Haldane’s third-straight appearance in the state tournament, Van Asselt’s Blue Devils were finally able to obtain their first state tournament win in program history. Haldane reached the Class C state final, finishing 16-3-3 and with the No. 2 ranking in the state.
Gk — Charley Warble, Jr., Bronxville
D — Amanda Becker, Sr., Horace Greeley
D — Shayna Levy, Jr., North Salem
M — Sophie Feuer, Sr., Briarcliff
M — Jess Harrison, Sr., Haldane
M — JoJo Miller, Jr., Hackley
M — Kacy Fishman, Sr., Byram Hills
F — Samantha Corbi, Jr., Holy Child
F — Dava Fortunato, Sr., Eastchester
F — Remi Manna, So., Pleasantville
F — Orla Martin, Sr., Mahopac
Honorable mention: Jazmin Acosta, Sr., Port Chester; Melissa Ardizzone, Sr., Horace Greeley; Rachel Berk, Sr., Eastchester; Hayley Bonner, Jr., Somers; Libby Closson, Jr., Scarsdale; Jessica Degina, Sr., Mamaroneck; Meera Dheer, Sr., Scarsdale; Amanda Drath, Jr., Irvington; Michaela Ferguson, Sr., Lakeland; Heidi Gspurning, Sr., Yorktown; Gabriella Hagerman, Jr., Ossining; Zhane Jacinto, So., Saunders; Samantha Kirsch, Jr., Briarcliff; Hannah Krapes, Jr., Rye; Caitlin Lander, Sr., Brewster; Elena Lefevre, Sr., Hastings; Julia Leslie, Sr., Mamaroneck; Missy Lisikatos, Fr., Haldane; Ali Lonner, Sr., Scarsdale; Maggie McCormack, Sr., North Salem; Bailey Monaco, Sr., John Jay; Kayla Moore, Sr., Panas; Izzy Nazario, Jr., Hen Hud; Grace Orr, Jr., Briarcliff; Jena Pelinkovic, So., Ursuline; Rachel Pollack, Jr., Byram Hills; Maggie Pozenel, Sr., Croton-Harmon; Taylor Regan, So., Rye Country Day; Jordan Riddle, Sr., Harrison; Vanessa Romero, Jr., Valhalla; Pamela Sanchez, Sr., Saunders; Courtney Shaw, Jr., Blind Brook; Annabel Stanley, Sr., Byram Hills; Isabella Ward, Sr., Pleasantville; Kate Whiston, Sr., Rye