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Originally published: 2013-02-15 14:12:25
Last modified: 2013-02-15 14:12:25

Watauga girls' soccer duo extend careers

by Steve Behr Sports Editor

Hannah Younger and Lillie Brady have been soccer teammates for a long time.
The two lead Watauga’s girls’ soccer team into the 2013 season, looking to improve on last year’s team that reached the second round of the state 4-A playoffs. They also know where they’ll be playing soccer after high school.
They’ll be playing against each other.
Younger and Brady both signed letters of intent to play college soccer on Tuesday. Younger will play at Queens College in Charlotte, while Brady will play at Pfeiffer College, which is located near Salisbury.
Both teams are members of Conference Carolinas, a Division II league consisting of 13 teams, including Lees-McRae College.
Younger, who will major in psychology and minor in sports management, is one of 17 recruits being brought in by Queens coach Katie Talbot. She will be competing for a spot on the varsity roster. The Royals also have a reserve squad for those who are not on the varsity team.
“I feel I can be a helper in the midfield,” Younger said. “I don’t think I’ll start, but I’ll be a good contributor to the main team, not the reserve team.”
Talbot discovered Younger at an Appalachian State camp run by Mountaineers head coach Sarah Strickland. Younger talked with Talbot and stayed in touch until Younger committed.
“I committed, and ever since, I’m pretty happy with my decision,” Younger said. “Queens is the perfect college for me. It’s what I want to do with my future, so I’m excited about the school aspect and the soccer aspect.”
Queens finished 9-9-1 overall last season, 6-3-1 in Conference Carolinas.
Brady liked the idea of going to a small school in a small town. Misenheimer, an incorporated town in Stanly County, is known for having a traffic light not for an intersection of two streets, but instead is located at a crosswalk to accommodate pedestrian traffic.
It is home to Pfeiffer College, whose women’s soccer team went 10-7-3 last year overall, 7-2-2 in conference.
“Being from Boone, which is a small-town atmosphere, I always wanted to go some place small and not to a school that has 30,000 kids,” Brady said. “Pfeiffer is a small school and it feels like home. Everybody knows each other by name and the classes aren’t that large. I visited before and everybody was nice to me. I felt like it was home.”
Younger and Brady are both glad the recruiting time is over, so they can concentrate on playing for the Pioneers. Watauga opens its season Feb. 27 at A.C. Reynolds.
“For me, it’s been really stressful because I’ve been looking at colleges and talking to different colleges since I was a freshman,” Younger said. “Now, I can concentrate on high school soccer.”
“Since I was little, I always wanted to play at a higher level,” Brady said. “Since my freshman year, I definitely wanted to play in college. That’s what I’ve been focusing on, like Hannah, and just getting to this point now and having this lifted off your shoulders is so nice. You can enjoy your last season playing.”
The two friends got a chance to see what soccer was like in Europe when they played on a team that played games in Denmark and Germany. They said there was a difference in European soccer than in the United States.
“It was definitely a life-changing experience for me,” Brady said. “The soccer part was great. It was a lot more competitive and the rules were different. Here you can call the ball and say ‘mine,’ but over there if you say that you’ll get a card. That was hard to adjust to because we’re so used to talking and communicating and saying that. But in the end, we did well and we won the tournament, which was nice.”
Younger agreed with Brady by saying that the European game is much more physical and is very competitive.
“The refs allowed us to push a lot more, but it was fun,” Younger said. “In Denmark, we played in the third largest tournament in the world and we ended up winning. We didn’t expect to, but it was a lot of fun.”
Head coach Brittany Bolick, who played at Charleston Southern after prepping at Watauga, feels the duo is what she wants her program to be like.
“They are absolutely what I want our program to be,” Bolick said. “They are hard working and their attitude is awesome. Their leadership skills are unbelievable.”