Shouldering the load

Kristen Carr plays a number of roles for Mercy's soccer team, and the versatile senior has proved to be a standout in all of them


Kristen Carr never stays put.

Watch her play a Mercy soccer game and by the end of 80 minutes, she has rotated through just about every position on the field except goalie.

Earlier this season against No. 11 McDonogh, the senior not only played strong defense and supportive midfield positions, but she also scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory.

"She plays with passion, she's a good leader and she's confident," McDonogh coach Maurice Boylan Jr. said, "She's comfortable wherever she plays and she sets the tone for how Mercy plays. That team revolves and rallies around her."

Mercy coach Albert Oni, who also coaches Carr's Parkville Soccer Club team, said she has the well-rounded game to play anywhere.

"In order to have that versatility you've got to be physically amazing, your technique has to be sharp, your insight into the game needs to be right on and you need speed," Oni said. "She's got all those qualities and the last thing's her personality. She's incredibly coachable. With all that in place, she's able to play any position on the field."

Not only is Carr versatile, but she excels at whatever position she's called upon to play. Two years ago as a sophomore, she was named a first-team All-Metro defender, but opposing coaches don't want to see her up front.

"When I saw her as a freshman, I thought defense was her forte, but she can go forward with the best of them," John Carroll coach Gary Lynch said. "I'm glad they only have one of her."

Carr doesn't score many goals for the Magic, but she comes up with some huge ones. In addition to the goal at McDonogh, she scored the tying goal in a 2-1 win over No. 10 Notre Dame Prep and netted the game-winner in a 1-0 victory over St. Vincent Pallotti.

Against McDonogh, Carr needed three shots to get the ball in the goal. One deflected off the goalie and another off the post before she finally finished off the play.

"That goal defines her perseverance," Oni said. "She never gives up. She doesn't score a lot of goals, but you remember every one. They're special. She doesn't score for the sake of scoring. She's big time."

Carr has been that way since she made her competitive soccer debut. When she was 6, she earned a spot on an under-10 travel team in Perry Hall.

She earned her nickname, "Cookie," on that team and it had nothing to do with food.

"[An older teammate] just started calling me `Tough Little Cookie.' Then it became just `Cookie' and that stuck with me," said Carr, who turns 17 tomorrow.

When she arrived at Mercy, Carr continued to be a tough - although at 5 feet 10, not so little - cookie. As a freshman, she made the All-Conference team in the highly competitive Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference.

"Since she's been a freshman I've always thought she was one of finer players in the league," Lynch said. "That's saying a mouthful, because she was competing against some of the best players in the area. She's big, fast, strong and quick. Add to that she's very competitive and has got a keen sense for the game. That makes her really dangerous."

What makes her even more valuable to the Magic has been her willingness to play anywhere she's needed.

"I love playing defense, but I don't mind playing midfield or forward," Carr said. "I like playing different positions."

For Carr, doing whatever the team needs is her most important contribution.

Despite her natural strength as a defender, she has worked with Oni to improve her game at the other end of the field.

"I definitely wanted to get better offensively," she said. "I work with Albert on skills and moves ... mentally as well as physically. I really believe in the team and that we have the opportunity to win a championship."

The Perry Hall resident's versatility runs across sports, too. A midfielder for the Magic lacrosse team, she also plays guard on the basketball team.

Before she arrived at Mercy, Carr also dabbled in track. Growing up with two brothers, she wanted to play football when she was little but her parents nixed it.

At Mercy, she settled on soccer, basketball and lacrosse, quickly emerging as one of the school's top three-sport athletes.

"I know if she was able to put the time into the game of basketball that she's able to put into lacrosse and soccer, she could be an all-star in basketball," Mercy basketball coach Mary Ella Marion said.

"She's got everything she needs to progress at the next level and confidence-wise, she can make quick decisions on the court or on the field to benefit her team. She can do that consistently in all those sports, which is hard to find in young athletes these days," said Marion, also Mercy's athletic director.

When it came to selecting a sport to play in college, Carr had a tough decision to make between soccer and lacrosse. She still hasn't narrowed it down, although she has orally committed to play lacrosse at North Carolina.

Although she won't renege on that promise, she may also decide to try to walk on to the Tar Heels' storied women's soccer team.

The decision to leave any sport behind will be difficult for Carr, who carries a 3.5 grade point average and wants to be a physical therapist.

"I love playing all my sports," she said. "I didn't necessarily like [lacrosse] better, but I wanted to play it in college. It's a great honor to play lacrosse at North Carolina, and to be able to play lacrosse and soccer, that would be awesome."

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