NET RETURNS

For Charlotte Verbanic, the 2014 girls soccer season was a trying one.

After starting in goal for Columbus North as a freshman, Verbanic had to sit out most of her sophomore year with a foot injury. Now a junior, she’s back on the field

“It feel a lot better than being on the sidelines,” Verbanic said. “It was tough. It was helpful that I was able to help coach a little bit with the goalies. I was able to keep engaged, and that was nice, but it really stinks not to play because you know you want to be out in the action helping the team rather than just watching.”

The injury happened last summer while Verbanic was practicing with the Bull Dogs. She injured four metatarsals in her right foot.

“I was coming out for a ball and was sliding for it, but I sort of pulled my punch a little bit so I wouldn’t hurt the player in front of me because we had a tournament coming up,” Verbanic said. “I tried to slow down my whole body, but my body kept moving, and my feet stayed planted.”

Verbanic missed the entire first half of the season. She did play a few games late last year but didn’t have the explosiveness she had as a freshman.

“I had to get back my foot skills and get back strength and endurance.”

“Charlotte is a good goalkeeper, and we’re glad to see that she’s recovered from her injury,” North coach Derek Stewart said. “She had a big game the first game against Center Grove, and that was huge. She’s playing with a lot of confidence, so we’re looking forward to seeing what she can do the rest of the season.”

The Bull Dogs tied Center Grove 0-0 in that season-opener last week.

“The defense was great,” Verbanic said. “I feel like I was back into the swing of things. You’re pretty nervous that first game, and I sort of felt like a freshman that first game because I missed so much.”

On Saturday, Verbanic recorded 10 saves, but Lawrenceburg scored a trio of second-half goals to rally for a 3-2 win.

“She’s definitely a leader, especially in that goalkeeper position,” Stewart said. “It’s one of the most important positions on the field. She sees it all, and her communication is improving and her leadership skills are improving, and we hope to build on that all season.”

Verbanic also runs track in the spring and was a part of North’s regional-qualifying 4×100-meter relay team.

“Since I can’t really run as goalie, and I feel like I’m pretty fast, I sort of want to do track to show off that side of me,” Verbanic said.

That speed helps the 5-foot-7 Verbanic on the soccer field.

“I feel like I jump pretty well, and I have enough speed to get to where I need to go, so if there’s a high ball coming in, I can sort of judge that,” Verbanic said. “I feel like my speed makes up for my height. If I can get the ball early, I won’t have to worry about trying to make up for it in height.”

“She’s very good with her feet,” Stewart said. “Foot skills are very good for a keeper, and she has superior foot skills — better than most goalkeepers I’ve seen. Another asset is that she brings to the team is her quickness. She’s extremely quick off her line, she has a quick dive, and she gets to balls really quick.”

Verbanic said she hopes to play soccer in college and has participated in three or four prospect camps. But first she said she wants to help the Bull Dogs to a couple of strong seasons, beginning with tonight’s Conference Indiana opener against Bloomington North and Saturday night’s showdown with Columbus East.

“I think from (the Center Grove) game, we have a whole different outlook on the season, and we’ll try to take it as far as we can go in the tournament season,” Verbanic said.

If you go

The Columbus East and Columbus North boys and girls JV and varsity soccer teams will play a quadruple-header Saturday at Richard Wigh Soccer Complex:

2 p.m.: JV boys

4 p.m.: JV girls

6 p.m.: Varsity boys

8 p.m.: Varsity girls

As part of an American Cancer Society fundraiser, all teams will wear special warmup t-shirts. Additional t-shirts will be available at the donations tent throughout the day on Saturday. All donations will go to the ACS.

Author photo
Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.