Coming off of a year of being sidelined, junior Julia Carter is ready to do the most as a Warrior.
Julia Carter didn’t get on the field, but it was far from a wasted season.
Last year, when Carter was a sophomore on the Franklin Towne Charter High School girls soccer team, she was unable to play a minute because she tore the ACL in her left knee during the summer when she was playing club ball.
The injury was tough because she was coming off a strong freshman campaign, when she started for the varsity team.
“It was really hard not playing,” said Carter, who lives in Fishtown. “But I got to sit on the sidelines and I tried to help out any way I could. I tried to be supportive of my team, giving them moral support and helping them with things I would see.
“I learned a lot while not playing. You see everything much differently and you can learn a lot. I learned so much from just talking with the coaches and watching. I think it helped me a lot.”
Now she’s back on the field and she’s ready to help the Warriors take a step in the Public League.
Carter, who started on defense as a freshman, is seeing time at both center midfield and on the backline this year for the Warriors, who are under the tutelage of first-year head coach Deborah Ounan. Ounan, who was an assistant, is now being helped by previous head coach Brianna O’Donnell, so if the new coach needs a hand, she doesn’t have to look far.
She can also count on her veteran star player.
“I’m there to help out in any way I can,” Carter said. “(Coach) Ounan doesn’t need any help, she knows what she’s doing, but we all try and help each other. That’s the best thing a team can do.”
Carter has been playing soccer her entire life, although she hasn’t always been playing with girls. When she was younger, she decided to try out for a boys team in Fishtown, and she ended up making the team.
That has helped her, especially in high school, where she traditionally goes up against bigger, stronger players.
“The biggest difference between boys and girls soccer was how physical boys soccer was,” Carter said. “The boys didn’t go easy on me at all. They were rough, they played hard. It taught me to play stronger. If I wanted to compete, I had to be stronger.”
It’s not the only time she showed she was strong.
When Carter tore her ACL, she heard three pops right after she hyperextended her leg. After that, she crumbled to the ground and a few days later she was getting surgery.
The surgery spoiled her entire club season and all of high school season. It also caused her to miss her sophomore softball season, although she was able to return to her club team, Coppa, by early spring.
“From the gate, Jules had her eyes set on getting back on the field as quickly as she could and she did the hard work associated with getting herself there,” Ounan said. “Recovery has been tough but Jules has fought her way through it.
“Jules will also be entrusted with the position of captain this year. I am looking forward to seeing her passion and leadership shine through in that role.”
That’s a role she’s looking forward to filling.
When she wasn’t playing, Carter took on the role of player-coach by giving advice to teammates when it was needed. This year, she’ll be out there providing that input and the only thing she wants to do is watch her Warriors improve every time they take the field.
“I really think we have what it takes to go all the way,” said Carter, who helped lead the Warriors to the championship game before falling to Central during her freshman year. “I think we’re as good as anyone out there. I want to make sure we stick together and work hard as a team.”
And individual goals?
“I just want to play better every game and I want to make sure I’m more of a leader,” the captain said. “I still have a lot of work to do to get better. I want to do whatever I need to do to make sure we’re a good team. We have been playing well as a team, but I know we can do better. It’s up to all of us to make sure we keep getting better.”
She also hopes to stay healthy.
After she tore her ACL, it was natural that she was a little tentative when she got back on the field. But now that she has some games under her belt, she’s ready to shine for the Warriors, who begin Public League play Thursday with a showdown against Central.
“I’m much more confident in my knee now because I’ve played on it,” said Carter, who will play third base and pitch for the Warriors in the spring. “I feel so much better now. The more you play, the stronger it gets. I feel really good now. I’m ready.”