Raiders' McCarroll loves scoring luxury
Steve Shinko/Special to THE TIMES NEWS Tamaqua's Ali Updike (12) keeps control of the ball during a game earlier this season against Jim Thorpe. Updike is the leading goal scorer in the Schuykill League this fall.
Most teams in the area would cherish the fact of having one player who had the capability of putting the ball in the net each time they touched it.
Since 2006, Clem McCarroll has had the luxury of having more than one scorer on his Tamaqua girls' soccer team.
McCarroll has had the chance to coach four of the top-five scoring leaders in Blue Raiders' history. In his seventh year, he has watched the likes of Jamie Price (40 career goals), Jess Bensinger (34) and Megan Inama (33) raise havoc on opponents' defenses years earlier. Shana Hall (third with 38) was the lone individual he hadn't coached.
This year, McCarroll is most undoubtedly at the envy of most coaches around the surrounding area, because of the offensive arsenal he watches step on the field in each and every game.
What makes things even better for McCarroll is the fact that he still has the program's all-time leading scorer Ali Updike, who currently holds onto a school record of a 81 careers goals, leading the highly-touted Blue Raiders' offensive attack forth in action again.
But, McCarroll likes the fact even more that he has more than one player to rely on when the Blue Raiders need to score.
"She can score anytime she wants," said McCarroll of Updike. "The unique thing, however, is we have four players that either one could just score at any moment. So, it really makes it hard for a defense to try and scheme our attack because if you try to mark one or two of them than there's still two or three left."
Without a doubt, that has been the difference in the Blue Raiders' current 11-2 overall mark and 6-1 record in the league.
The opposition has had difficulties trying to scheme the Blue Raiders' fearsome foursome, which has accounted for 89 percent of the 66 goals scored in 13 games. In doing so, the Blue Raiders average approximately five goals a game.
If the opposing team even tries to even double or triple team Updike, the Blue Raiders' forward Lauren Mateyak (15 goals), midfielders Kailee Rottet (15 goals) or Kayla Hope (11 goals) immediately step right in to make things even more difficult. So, has been the case as Updike leads the league with 18 goals and three assists, and then Mateyak and Rottet follow right behind tied for second with one. Hope just missed the top-five in sixth with 11 goals.
"At times, I have had two or three," said McCarroll, of being blessed with the most talented scoring group he has ever coached. "But, I never had four that are this polished as scorers. I mean you could give the ball to either one and they could just take over a game. It's nice every night you just don't know who's going to do it.
"When one player is marked tight or has two or three defenders on them, the other ones just takes over. It's a nice thing to have. We always had one or two dominant scorers, but not four like that."
Meanwhile, goalkeeper Chey Bates, who is third in the league with four shutouts, and the young defense make it even harder for opponents to score as they have only allowed 19 goals on the season.
"I think with the offensive power up there that sort of helped the defense grow up a bit because they kept the ball up field awhile until they got their feet wet," said McCarroll, who lost all-state player Katie Hummel to graduation. "And, we were able to get established. It's nice to have four players like that keep the ball up there and controlled for a while and score. That takes the pressure off the defense."
While Tamaqua can present a challenge on either end of the field now-a-days, McCarroll is simply excited about having players who aren't afraid to lend a foot in the team's success this year.
McCarroll is more fond of the way they work together to get the job down.
"Sometimes when you get stars on a team and there's egos, but that's what's nice there's really no egos on this team," McCarroll said. "It's whoever scores the other ones are happy for them. There's nobody counting how many goals. I think they don't even realize how many goals they have probably.
"They know they have a lot, but they're not really competing - they just want to win. I hear them say that all the time at practice and at games, 'I don't care what it takes, I just want to win.'"
And, that the returning District 11 champions are thanks to racking up some fine numbers on the attack.