As the Chargers cruised past Middleton, forward Ezra Carpenter continued to rack up goals.
Strawberry Crest’s girls soccer team headed to Middleton on Tuesday night where they cruised to an 8-0 victory and moved to 5-3-3 on the season.
The Chargers controlled the game from the opening whistle, keeping the ball almost exclusively in Middleton’s half with consistent offensive pressure.
Midfielder Ella Keel had the first scoring opportunity for Crest in the game’s opening minutes, redirecting a corner kick on goal but the shot was saved and the contest remained scoreless for the moment. But a few short minutes later, forward Ezra Carpenter opened the scoring as she battled through defenders to keep possession before ripping a shot past the keeper from the top of the 18-yard box.
“I just think she’s got a great nose for the goal,” head coach Sean Woodhouse said about Carpenter. “With her speed, you can’t teach speed and when she gets by somebody, very few people can catch up with her.”
Five minutes later Keel converted on a goal of her own, settling possession within the six-yard box and tucking a shot into the bottom right corner, putting the Chargers up 2-0. Carpenter buried another goal with roughly 10 minutes remaining in the first half and the Chargers took a 3-0 lead into halftime.
In the second half the Chargers continued their relentless offensive performance, putting a number of shots on target before extending the lead to 4-0 on a score from freshman Arely Salgado.
The second half then saw two more goals from Carpenter, capping her four-goal performance, a goal from senior captain Lizbeth Ortiz and the game-ending goal from junior Ariana Diaz Cortes, sealing the victory in mercy rule fashion in the game’s final minutes.
For Carpenter, the four-goal game was noteworthy but certainly not out of the ordinary as she has made a habit of stringing together dominant performances in her time with the Chargers. In fact, four goals isn’t even her highest-scoring contest of the season as she has now scored four goals in two separate games while netting a season-high five goals against King High School on Nov. 16, earning her Hillsborough County Girls Soccer Player of the Week honors from PrimeTimePreps.
Carpenter – also a student in Strawberry Crest’s International Baccalaureate program – stepped onto campus as a freshman in 2019 and made an immediate impact on the girl’s soccer program, finishing her debut season tied for the team lead with 12 goals en route to the Chargers’ first district championship in school history.
As a sophomore, she became the true centerpiece of Crest’s offense with a district-high 23 goals and both scores in a 2-0 win over Bloomingdale for the Chargers’ second consecutive district championship victory.
This season has only seen the trend continue as Carpenter has currently scored 20 of the Chargers’ 45 total goals on the year, despite missing two games.
“She’s a great kid,” Woodhouse said. “With her workload being in the IB program, with her competitive soccer, plus playing high school soccer, she does a great job of balancing all of that and she’s a team leader.”
Not only does Carpenter continue to prove herself as one of the most talented players in the area, but could ultimately graduate in 2023 as one of the most successful athletes in Strawberry Crest history. Named one of the Plant City area’s Top 5 Athletes of 2021 by the Plant City Observer, Carpenter recently eclipsed the 50 goal mark for her career in a three-goal game against Hillsborough High School last Wednesday and is already in sole possession of the school record for career goals while just midway through her junior season.
“I can tell you that she’s a big part in a lot of the records that we broke over the past two years,” Woodhouse said. “Winning the school’s first two district titles, last year was the team’s most wins in a season in school history, total goals scored last year, I think she had 23 of our 67 goals and that was the most goals that the school had ever scored. Over the past two years we’ve broken a lot of records and she’s definitely been a big part of that.”