Auvil ready for East-West game
By RYAN HERMAN
Tatum Auvil had an amazing senior season, and on Tuesday one of the best to wear an East Lincoln girls soccer uniform will cap her prep career as one of the best in the state.
Auvil, who tied a school record last spring with 28 goals scored, will take part in the girls soccer N.C. Coaches Association East-West All-Star Game Tuesday evening at UNC-Greensboro.
Auvil is the third in school history to play in the event, joining Marni Krehnbrink (2011) and Erin Smith (2005) as the only East Lincoln seniors to be selected to play for the West team in the annual all-star girls soccer match, which begins at 6:30 Tuesday and features 32 of the sport’s best recent graduates –– 16 per team.
“It’s a cherry on top of a great year,” Auvil said.
Auvil had three hat tricks last season and scored in 18 of the 25 matches she played. She had a goal, or at least one assist, in 22 matches to help the Mustangs win 19 games, which also tied a school record.
“There’s no doubt a good chunk of that success was because of her,” Mustangs coach Jason Dragoon said.
Dragoon, who’s been the school’s only coach in the program’s history, watched as Auvil improved her game from year to year. So it came as no surprise when he received word she had been selected to play.
Players are nominated by their respective head coaches then selected by the all-star sport’s coaching staff.
“The last four years coaching her have been absolutely phenomenal. It’s been exciting to watch her grow as a player,” Dragoon said. “She’s very deserving of playing in the match. She’ll make some sort of an impact.”
The only impact Auvil hopes to make is to help the West win, even if it means not scoring a goal –– something she became used to as a senior.
“I’d love to (score) –– Who wouldn’t? –– but I’m more excited to help the team in any way I can,” she said.
Auvil was a team captain for the Mustangs as a junior and senior, and her biggest attributes –– aside from her scoring capabilities –– are the way she stays motivated and connects with her teammates, Dragoon said.
Auvil has played club soccer –– an all-star team in itself –– for the Huntersville-based Carolina Rapids, who finished their season earlier this month. But she was never concerned with anything other than what Dragoon and her East Lincoln teammates demanded of her.
“She bought into high school soccer,” Dragoon said. “She was as committed to her high school team as she was her club teams.”
Soccer has been one of the biggest things in Auvil’s life since she was 10, when she began playing competitively, she said. But on Tuesday she will play the final match of her prep career.
Auvil graduated in June atop her class, and has decided to forego college soccer opportunities to attend the University of North Carolina to pursue a degree in physics as she makes her way towards a career in engineering.
Auvil said she will play club soccer for the Tar Heels, but the importance of playing soccer will take a back seat to academics –– after Tuesday.
Her and her West teammates had their first training session on Sunday, she said. She realizes her career is winding down, but it happens, and is something she has accepted.
“I’m moving on to a different phase of my life right now, but that’s all part of growing up,” Auvil said. (Soccer has) always been such a big part of my life.”
Dragoon has seen that maturation process first-hand, and knows she has earned everything she has received, both athletically and academically.
“She’s just an absolutely great role model for being a good leader, growing up, and learning from her own mistakes. She’s grown as a player and as a person in the last four years. I really enjoyed coaching her. She made this season a lot of fun for me,” Dragoon said.
“We’re going to miss her next year, that’s for sure, but we’re happy to see her go out in one more game, representing East Lincoln High School.”