The new career goal record holder for North Oconee soccer is Ava Caldwell. The senior midfielder scored a hat trick in the Titans’ 10-0 victory over Cedar Shoals on Tuesday, capping her 85 goals in four years in the red and black.

That morning, head coach Ben Grassmyer had informed her of the impending accomplishment. She needed two more goals to tie the record and three more to break it. Despite having less playing minutes due to a recurring knee issue, Caldwell got the most out of the notice by taking it to heart.

The thought put even more strain on her, though, and she found herself fighting to locate the back of the net, begging God to give her a hand (or, in this case, a foot), as she battled both her body and her mind.

“I didn’t want to have to wait and think about it all week,” she claimed. “I simply desired to strike it now.

“I was actually counting down to when I hit the third one because I had to. I was tied when I hit the second goal, so when I hit the third one, we all celebrated. It was really fun. … It was awesome, my team was all really happy for me, and it was good to see everyone supporting me and being there for me.”

It just happened; it wasn’t the main goal for the evening. According to Grassmyer, he gave Caldwell just five minutes in the second half, but as usual, she worked her magic.

“It makes my job easy, (to have someone like her on the team),” stated Grassmyer. “I’ve been blessed the past few years that our best players are our best people, too. That’s not always the case, so it makes it easy to coach when your top players are always the example of how you act and how you behave, and how you treat each other. We’re lucky to have kids like her.”

In addition to playing for Atlanta Fire United in the Elite Club National League (ECNL), Caldwell is a 2024 pledge to Auburn. She actually grew up in Auburn, where she played soccer from a very young age and lived until she was 13 years old. Her parents put in a lot of effort when she relocated to Georgia for middle school, driving her to practices and games, which were frequently held four nights a week and required an hour and a half each way from Athens to downtown Atlanta.

He’s watched her develop into a leader in the four years she’s played Titan for Grassmyer.

“She’s very aware of who she is and who she wants to be, now,” said Grassmyer. “She came in as a confident freshman and she’s always had confidence, but now she’s just fully aware of her goals and what she wants to accomplish. She’s one that will make sure she accomplishes it through her work rate and dedication to the game.”

That goes beyond just her; she won’t be outworked. Regardless of the level, she won’t allow her team to be outworked. The entire North Oconee roster, as demonstrated consistently over the past four years, is equally exceptional if she is the best.

Caldwell’s junior year ended in a loss against North Oconee, who had advanced to the Final Four as a sophomore and won a state championship in her freshman year. As of right now, they have a 5-1 record and are hoping to complete the circle before she graduates. Their most recent victory was a 7-0 blowout of Madison County.

By admin