High School Sports

OU-bound Carroll senior shares friendship with 9-year-old as Dragons are headed to state

Southlake Carroll senior Taylor Tufts has made an impact on the girls soccer program during her four-year career.

She became the second player ever, and first since 2002, to record 30 goals and 20 assists in a season after her performance against Pearce in the Class 6A Region I final on April 13.

The Dragons are two wins away from the Class 6A title. Carroll (26-1-2) faces Lake Travis (23-4) in the state semifinals at 9:30 a.m. Friday at Birkelbach Field in Georgetown.

While Tufts continues to climb the Carroll record books, she’s making just as big of an impact off the field with 9-year-old Kylee Carroll.

And, yes, her last name is Carroll so it’s probably meant to be.

Kylee has been playing soccer for four years. She plays for Solar’s Under-10 team, which is ranked No. 4 in the nation and No. 2 in the state. She began watching Carroll games last season and her eyes quickly drew toward Tufts.

“Taylor is my favorite player,” Kylee said. “She has a lot of skills and really good at soccer.”

“The bond I have with Kylee is something special,” added Tufts, who is signed with Oklahoma. “She supports me like no other. I can’t thank her enough because she motivates me to play better. I want to give her someone to look up to. It’s amazing that she’s already so involved in Lady Dragon Soccer (LDS) because one day, this will be her.”

Kylee and her parents have been to 7 or 8 games this season.

“Taylor plays for Solar. She’s an attacking center mid which is where Kylee plays,” father Juan Carroll said. “They share a lot of things. We really appreciate her for always talking to Kylee and encouraging her.

“Kylee will watch all the girls on the sideline, watch coach Matt Colvin talk and just experience all of the game. It’s pretty awesome for her to be around all those girls and for them to be role models, not a lot of 9-year-olds can take that in.”

Carroll’s state appearance will be its fifth, but first since 2013.

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Carroll celebrates its 3-0 win over Frenship in the 6A Region I semifinals on Friday April 12, 2019 at McKinney ISD Stadium. Matthew Smith Southlake Sports Pics

“To be able to play in the state tournament has been my dream even before high school. I can’t wait to experience this weekend with the best team,” Tufts said. “Our team motto “200 feet” was something we’ve followed since the beginning of the season. It showed us that we should solely be focused on the next practice or game and nothing else. Now, we’re only looking at Friday’s game and we will come out stronger than ever.”

State has been Tufts’ dream when she was little. She can relate to Kylee’s bond because when she was growing up, she looked up to Grace Cory and Sophie Groff.

“They were big time stars in LDS. They were excellent players and even better people. When I made varsity freshman year, I had the opportunity to play alongside Grace,” she said. “Even though I was injured and didn’t play much, Grace gave me someone to look up to. She was the best role model and leader.

“She showed me how to put others before me and to play for the people next to you. That’s why it’s easy for me to help others. For Kylee, I want to be that person.”

“Taylor has always been very humble and gravitated toward younger children,” father Jeff Tufts added. “Even when we would have family events, she would be the one playing with the younger kids.”

Kylee was there to watch Carroll defeat Pearce, 6-0. Tufts had a goal and four assists while Sydney Nobles scored twice. Karina Owens, Sarah Hornyak and Madi Drenowatz also scored.

And after every game, Kylee goes and meets Taylor and the two talk and take pictures.

“They are really good at soccer. Even when they lose, I know they worked really hard and tried their best,” Kylee said. “It’s really cool to talk to her because I know a lot of girls are probably big fans of Taylor.”

“Having an affect on Kylee at her age is motivational,” Tufts added. “I’ve always wanted to be someone that can be a role model in other people’s lives. I encourage her to keep up the support because in the future, someone will be looking up to her like she is for me. I can’t wait for her to be apart of LDS because it has changed my life.”

If the Dragons win Friday, they’ll have a shot at their first title since 2008 on Saturday.

Kylee will be there.

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Born and raised in Hawaii, Brian Gosset graduated from Northern Arizona University with a degree in journalism before coming to Texas in 2014. He’s covered high school sports — yes, pretty much every high school sport — for the Star-Telegram ever since.
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