By Gianna Addario
---- — For the second straight season, Emma Carlson led her Covenant Christian Academy soccer team to Massachusetts Girls Independent League championship game.
Behind their senior captain, the Cougars flourished at 9-6-1 overall as Carlson was named this year’s GIL Most Valuable Player for her league-leading 24 goal effort this fall.
“Our team’s success was due to the immense effort put forth by every girl on the team,” explained Carlson, 17. “Practicing or playing games five days a week is a large commitment, especially for a group of girls who are also involved in music, art, theater and who are extremely dedicated to their school work.
“Although there were some days where we may not have been the most willing to run that extra sprint, we all pushed each other, striving to make our team the best it could be.”
A natural goalkeeper, Carlson has spent the majority of her soccer career in net. In the midst of helping train a new goalie to take her spot for next year, Carlson was able to show her talents at striker as well.
Carlson, a Hamilton native, has gone to the private independent school in Peabody since the fifth grade. As a two-year varsity starter, Carlson has contributed with 46 goals and 23 assists in her career.
“Being such a small school, no one expected us to play the way we did, and I think that is a testimony to the girls’ natural skills and dedication to improvement,” added Carlson.
As team MVP this past fall, Carlson has captained the Cougars for the last five seasons. This year she was joined by Tory Cummings and Michelle Buettner, as the trio stepped up in their own ways.
Carlson’s best performance came against rival Newman in the GIL semifinal game in which she scored four goals, including the game winner. The victory sent the Cougars back into the finals for the second time in as many years as they’ve been in the league. While Covenant Christian Academy fell to Boston Trinity Academy in the championship round, the girls continue to grow under head coach Nalani Cushing.
“Our practices might have been challenging, but they were filled with encouraging words and bonding moments that brought us closer together as a team and as a family,” Carlson said.
While Carlson waits to make a college decision, she’ll be plenty busy over the next few months as she captains both the basketball team in the winter and softball team in the spring.