The future collegiate women's soccer players chat with us after signing their NLIs on Wednesday. (Megan Woodward / Carroll County Times)
Erica Neumeister and Lauren Paulsen can expect to see each other on the soccer pitch in the near future, just from opposite sides of the field.
The girls have more in common that one might think and not just because they played for Manchester Valley's girls soccer team. Neumeister and Paulsen will each continue their playing careers at North Carolina colleges — Neumeister at Belmont Abbey and Paulsen at Lees-McRae.
The teams compete in the Conference Carolinas, meaning the Mavericks teammates will become conference rivals at the NCAA Division II level. That became slightly evident at their National Letter of Intent signing day ceremony Wednesday at Man Valley.
"Go Bobcats," Paulsen said. "Sorry Erica."
"You're going down," Neumeister retaliated. "Sorry about it."
All in good fun, surely. Neumeister and Paulsen signed their official letters to signify a written commitment to their respective schools just moments prior.
Neumeister, who came over to Man Valley after the closure of North Carroll, thanked her coaches and parents for supporting her during her commitment process. Paulsen thanked her parents and cited that her father has been her favorite club coach since she was 5 years old. The small audience laughed as Paulsen relayed memories of him breaking a few traffic laws to get her to games and practices on time.
Paulsen transferred to Man Valley from Winters Mill at the start of her junior year and played at the varsity level with the Mavericks for two seasons. She's been through her fair share of coaches and she thanked every one — WM coach Denny Snyder, former Mavericks coach Joe Miller, and current Mavs coach Denise Hoff, to name a few.
"I think we've both worked hard for this moment," Paulsen said. "It's really tough and for it all to pay off and be committed now, to now playing for a college school, it's great."
Manchester Valley athletic director Troy Warehime praised the girls' leadership with their Mavericks teammates during the transition period following North Carroll's closure. The girls both played defense for the Mavericks (10-4-2) and helped lead the team to an appearance in the Class 3A South Section I final.
"I've been looking forward to this my entire life," Neumeister said. "Playing soccer has always been something I loved and enjoyed, it's exciting."
Neumeister and Paulsen weren't the only Carroll soccer players making their college choices official Wednesday.
Liberty senior Zach Brumbalow committed to Goucher for men's soccer. Brumbalow, a two-time Times first-team all-county pick on defense, helped the Lions to a 7-4-4 record last fall.
Brumbalow was part of a defensive unit that collected four shutouts while Liberty went unbeaten in county play (2-0-4).
Meanwhile, Westminster senior Ryan Mills is set to make his college choice official and attend Coker College in South Carolina for men's soccer.
Mills joined Brumbalow as a Times first-team all-county defender and helped the Owls win their first county title since 1998. Mills, an honorable mention all-state pick, scored Westminster's lone goal in a 1-0 win over River Hill.
Football usually dominates the signing day landscape, but Carroll was quiet on that front Wednesday. Some players took to Twitter to announce their commitments, however.
Century senior Sam Rothstein is headed to Muhlenberg to continue his football and wrestling career, while Liberty senior Michael Phillips is bound for Stevenson to play football.
Both Rothstein and Phillips were Times first-team all-county picks last fall — Phillips was a two-way selection — and helped their teams reach the Class 2A West Region playoffs.