Sophie Carroll may have played softball all her life, but ever since she joined the modified field hockey team in eighth grade, Carroll has made that her focus. While she was one of Scarsdale’s better players last year as an All-League junior, this fall as a senior she finally made everyone take notice of what she was truly made of and joined classmate Liz Scarcella on the All-State team.
When Lauren Barton took over the field hockey program last fall, she could see Carroll’s ability and challenged her to make her presence known. Carroll mostly went about her business quietly, producing on the field, and was named captain this year, where she took Barton’s encouragement to heart and showed the confidence to be a star.
“This year she asserted herself and was a louder voice on the field,” Barton said. “She’s always led by example. The beginning of preseason last year she was a force out there competing, but it was very silent last year — you needed to watch her to know how strong and skilled she was. This year she made it obvious that her skills are incredible as is her power, as she’s our strongest player in that regard. All of that set her apart in our league and section this year.”
Carroll and fellow seniors Scarcella and Sophia Franco made up the team’s midfield this year, with Carroll controlling the left side of the field.
“The left side of the field in field hockey is a harder position to play by virtue of the nature of the game,” Barton said. “She excels on that left side and her defense is top notch. On attack, her shot is vicious. When that ball hits the back of the goal you hear it.”
No goal was more resounding than the one she scored late off a corner assisted by Scarcella, of course, in a 1-0 regular season win over Mamaroneck. It was the first time Scarsdale had topped its nemesis since 2016, when Scarcella and call-up Franco were freshmen on the team that won the Section 1 title and made it to the New York State finals.
“My mom and I talk about it all the time — she so deserved that spotlight,” Scarcella said of Carroll’s goal. “I would say it was the most important goal of the season because of that huge rivalry and the intensity of that game. You can see our joy through the pictures, just jumping and smiling and hugging each other. It was an incredible feeling and she deserved it.”
Barton and Scarcella both credited Carroll with being a good role model on and off the field based upon the decisions she makes and her modesty, while also fighting to the end in competitions.
“I can talk for hours about Sophie,” Scarcella said. “She has an incredible work ethic. When you watch her play you know that she doesn’t give up on the ball ever. She’s been such an incredible co-captain this season, so humble and works her butt off. It’s amazing.”
Carroll had done winter clinics for field hockey, but when she started playing in middle school she was all-in and has played on a club team with Scarcella ever since, most recently with former Olympian Marq Mellor’s New York Hockey Club.
“With my club team is really where I develop to be the best I can be and my club coach and Coach Barton both really help me figure out my best position and how I can work hard and push myself to get to where I am today,” Carroll said. “Through the years it was all that hard work and effort in practices and games, putting 110 percent on the field.”
Scarcella leaves Scarsdale with a dominant 55-17-5 record over her four years on varsity. Three of the wins are from freshman year against Mamaroneck, while the team was 1-8 the next three years combined, including a trio of 2-0 losses in the Section 1 semifinals each year vs. Mamo.
As a freshman Scarcella learned from All-State seniors Jilly Mehlman, Emma Coleman and Erin Nicholas, was All-Elite as a sophomore and became a two-time All-State player this fall.
“Her vision of the field and her ability to distribute the ball where it should go is one of the strongest in the section,” Barton said of her center-midfielder. “She’s able to anticipate more than one play ahead. Being able to see the field and execute the passes to those places, she was so helpful to so many of her teammates.”
There were times when Scarcella would put the ball where it should be, not where her teammates were because she wanted the girls, especially the younger ones, to learn the correct plays and ball placement so they could catch up in terms of understanding and execution of the game.
“Her level of understanding of the game and how the ball moves is really her strength,” Barton said.
Scarcella’s leadership was also second to none.
“What Liz brought to the team, on and off the field she was always talking to us and communicating with us,” Carroll said. “If there was something you needed to work on she wasn’t afraid to tell you, whether you were an upperclassman or an underclassman. It didn’t matter to her. She really helped push our team and stay focused. She brought passion to the team.”
Historically speaking, this had to be one of the most dominant midfields Scarsdale has seen with Carroll, Scarcella and All-Elite Franco.
“Having that line of midfield with me, Liz and Franco, it was a big part of our games,” Carroll said. “Our midfield was very strong. In the beginning when we were still working on our forward line and our defensive line, we were helping keep the team together and under control on the field. Once we figured the lines out, everything just clicked and we were able to perform very well together.”
The leadership they brought as tri-captains stood out for Barton, who wished Franco could have received more accolades.
“The three of them really made it a point to make sure the team was united and had fun together and played together on the field,” Barton said. “They did everything within their power to make sure everyone felt included and part of the team. Without that they wouldn't have been able to play the way they did throughout the entire season. The leadership the captains exemplified this year was topnotch.”
Though Scarcella and her teammates were hoping to get back to the Section 1 finals and beyond this year, it was still a most memorable season.
“It was an incredible season under the tutelage of Barton and Marti [assistant coach Sarah Martinez],” Scarcella said. “It was by far my favorite of the past four years. Every member of the team worked together and we loved each other. Even though the season has been over for a few weeks we still work out together and we’re having a Christmas party in December. It shows how close our team was and why we were successful.”
What also stood out for Scarcella was the overall direction of the athletic program this fall. “Because I’m a senior and because I’m leaving the high school, I just want to give a shout out to how amazing all the fall coaches have been, including our athletic director, just how amazing Scarsdale has been with athletics and how we’ve been upping the pride aspect of things around the school,” she said. “I think we’ve been doing a good job with athletic pride for the Raiders.”
Carroll will play at Franklin & Marshall in the Centennial Conference next fall. Former Raider Michaela Nicholas is now a senior at F&M, which will play in the NCAA Division III Final Four this weekend. Nicholas was a point of contact whenever Carroll was heading up to F&M.
“When I was looking at colleges, F&M really stood out because of the team dynamic,” she said. “I compared that to our high school field hockey team. Especially this season I’ve never been so close with a team before. I want to bring that experience into college because that’s something I’ll miss from high school.”
Scarcella is committed to NESCAC’s Williams College, which was 13-4 and lost all four games by one goal — twice to Tufts and once each against Bowdoin and Middlebury.
“The coaches there are incredible and they’re a competitive team,” Scarcella said. “They only lost by one to Middlebury this year and lost by one to Tufts and those are the top two NESCAC teams. It’s very competitive and I look forward to continuing with field hockey. I don’t know what I would do without it.”
Until then both girls will train over the winter and Carroll will close out her softball career, Scarcella her lacrosse career in the spring.
“Playing in college is a higher level, the speed of play is faster and the skill around them is stronger, but I think they’re going to have an opportunity to play with more players at their level, which will help them grow and develop into stronger, faster, more skilled players themselves,” Barton said. “I’m really curious to see what they’re able to do at the college level next year.”