Haley Greenwade makes a point of getting away from soccer when she can, if only for a brief period of time.
Greenwade has grown up with a soccer ball near her feet, she said, and even the most fanatic footballer is due for a break. The Century High School junior said she loves the sport but admits to feeling a little “burned out” now and then.
And yet she still can’t quit it.
“The thing is, I will miss it in about a week. It’s a love-hate relationship,” Greenwade said. “I can’t get rid of it. It’s my passion, it really is. [I’ll] hang out with friends, but a lot of time that ends up with me playing soccer with them. Whenever I see a soccer ball, I have to go over and touch it. It’s so weird.”
The Knights are certainly glad Greenwade has that connection with the ball. After breaking out as a sophomore and leading Century to the state semifinals, the diminutive forward kept the offense rolling in the 2021 spring season. She led Carroll County in scoring for a second straight season and once again earned Times Player of the Year honors.
Greenwade played in seven of county champion Century’s eight games and finished with eight goals for 16 points, both tops in the county. Her club soccer schedule conflicted with one of her high school games, and Greenwade had a tough choice to make.
Perhaps the choice is a bit easier when your club organization, in this case Pipeline Soccer Club, is ranked among the top in Maryland and its region, according to several youth soccer outlets. Greenwade said she has learned a lot by playing with Pipeline, which she switched to once she got to high school.
“Club is a lot different than high school,” she said. “Club is very much possession-based, just calm. High school can be like ‘go-go-go.’ At the same time, it’s kind of hard for me to transition for both of them. I just have to find a balance, I would say.”
Century coach Sara Figuly said her teams strive to possess the ball, so Greenwade makes that transition with more ease. But it’s no secret how the Knights operate, particularly after they were 16-0 and playing in the Class 2A semifinals in 2019 with Greenwade scoring 23 goals along the way.
Century’s success relies on balance, but when its speedy scorer can get behind a defense and head toward the goal, all the better. And Greenwade’s field presence, sometimes when facing a double- or triple-team from defenders, gets teammates involved on offense.
“And with her speed and then her foot skills,” Figuly said, “she can just beat people left and right all the time.”
Greenwade said she first discovered her quickness in middle school and really took notice during her first club soccer experience.
“I’ve always been a pretty fast kid, but just quick and not super fast,” she said. “When I first started playing competitive club I [realized it] because I was blowing past their defense. I use it to my advantage in whatever soccer game I play.
“But also … scary because you have to actually finish.”
No need to worry ― Greenwade arrive at Century and contributed as a freshman with three goals and five assists, then really shined the following season.
Her skills and ability to flash that speed have impressed Pipeline SC Elite Clubs National League Girls Director Danny Skelton, who is her coach on the under-17 (2004) team. Skelton said Greenwade holds her own with her club teammates when competing in the ECNL, considered one of the more competitive youth leagues in the country.
“Having a player like Haley, who has great pace, a tireless work ethic, and a desire to compete really helps to make our 2004 team one of the most competitive in the league,” Skelton said via email. “We are excited to have Haley again next season and look forward to watching her progress even further as she prepares to go off and play soccer in college at the Division I level.”
For Greenwade, that’s a commitment to Eastern Kentucky University. She’ll make it official in a few months by signing a national letter of intent. But there’s a senior season not too far off, and Greenwade said she’s eager to get back on the field with her Century teammates.
That love-hate relationship with soccer is one in which Greenwade thrives, she said.
“When I first started playing soccer, I would never pass the ball. I would just take it myself and go to goal. I’ve always been like that,” Greenwade said. “I think that’s also why it makes me a good player, because I don’t have any fear. I just do my own thing.
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“I mean, it’s good to pass obviously. But when I have the chance, take it.”