NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ -- In any sport, an underclassman's first game on the varsity level can be a daunting moment. Even moreso when it is a freshman stepping into a starting role.
Carleigh Robertson took on that challenge this fall. The ninth-grader became the New Providence girls soccer team's starting goalie on opening day, but uninitiated observers would find few telltale signs that they were watching a freshman at work.
Beginning with a clean sheet against Elizabeth in her first game, Robertson posted 10 shutouts as New Providence compiled a 12-7-3 record and reached the championship game of the Section 2, Group 1 tournament.
"I would say that right from the beginning of the season we could see that Carleigh would be able to command the box," said New Providence head coach Scott Murphy, "and she didn't show any nervousness about being a varsity goalkeeper. In our second game against ALJ (Johnson High School), she made some big saves to help us earn the tie with them. From that point she just kept improving each game."
Robertson, the TAPinto New Providence Joe Eberle Weichert Realtors Pioneer Athlete of the Week, talked about the experiences of her first varsity season.
Q: How big an adjustment was it to step in and start in goal as a freshman?
A: I think it was a large adjustment for me because I was playing with a new team as well as playing against girls that had more experience than me. Although this was a change, my teammates were completely welcoming and definitely made me feel like I fit in. I really enjoyed spending time with my team on a daily basis and doing our many traditions. I feel that the girls on our team had a special relationship and I love all of them.
Q: What has been the best advice you have received from a coach?
A: I would have to say that the best advice I have been given by a coach is just to let things go and move on. As a goalkeeper I can especially say that I tend to get hung up on my mistakes and get in my own head. If you allow yourself to dwell on a single mistake then it will only create a negative mindset for the rest of the game and the future. If we learn to simply let go of mistakes and learn from them, they no longer hold any power.
Q: What has been your most memorable game to date?
A: My most memorable game to date for sure would have been our sectional final game against Glen Ridge. Although we did not get our desired end result, every single girl on our team gave all of their effort and I hope someday they will look back with pride. Something that really made this game memorable for me was how many members of the community came to watch. I was very grateful to see so many friendly faces and to be able to have a student section to support us. It was really moving to see just how many people would be interested in coming to watch our game, and I hope that it will continue into the future.
Q: What do you like most about New Providence High School?
A: I would have to say that the thing I like most about New Providence High School is how tightly knit the community is. Everyone in the high school supports each other and it is wonderful to see so many friendly faces in the halls.
Q: Do you have a favorite subject?
A: Language Arts is my favorite subject due to the creative freedom that writing and reading allows.
Q: Who is your favorite athlete/role model?
A: My favorite athlete/role model would be Marc Andre Ter Stegen and Carli Lloyd. I have always looked up to Carli Lloyd due to her intense work ethic and the 2015 Women’s World Cup. Marc Andre Ter Stegen has also been a role model for me as well as my favorite goalkeeper. Both of these people have had incredible stories that really contributed to my love of soccer.
Q: What do you like to do when you are not playing a sport?
A: When I am not playing a sport I usually like to hang out with my friends and family. I would describe myself as an extremely social person and I love to spend time with others.
Robertson added that she has a cause that is very close to her heart that she wanted to better publicize: "Although I never had the privilege of actually meeting Schyler Herman, I heard her story and it has always inspired me. Schyler was a soccer goalkeeper of PDA and Pleasant Valley High School who was a warrior of Leukemia. She passed away at age 15 on October 31, 2018. The #SchylerStrong Foundation was established to honor and preserve the memory and wishes of Schyler Herman. If anyone wants to donate or give support to her cause you can look up www.schylerstrong.com. Thank you so much."
The Joe Eberle Weichert Realtors Pioneer Athlete of the Week is sponsored by Joe Eberle Weichert Realtors located at 64 Main Street in Chatham. Joe is a 25 year New Providence resident who is an active member of the New Providence community. Contact Joe anytime, whether it's to get started on helping you realize your real estate goals and dreams, or just to ask a question about the local market. Joe can be reached at email@example.com or call 908-868-4800.