Old Mill senior forward Carina Sonberg is so talented and organized in all phases of her life that soccer coach Bruce Sponsler said the school could never replace her in anything.
"We can only hope that the other kids will emulate her," said Sponsler. "I wish I had my life together like she does. I wish I could manage my time like she does. No matter how many meetings, practices and games are thrown at her, she gets to them all and still does everything her family wants her to do. She coaches me. She is a tremendous leader on and off the field and has high morals and values."
Quite a glowing tribute from Sponsler, but he has come to believe in Sonberg during her four-year career at Old Mill.
Sonberg is one of the top three girls soccer players in Anne Arundel County, plays for the unbeaten Severna Park Rangers in the Washington Area Girls Soccer league, carries a 3.7 grade point average, is president of several high school organizations, plays defense for the Old Mill lacrosse team, is an All-State violinist and was the only girl good enough to play baseball in the Crownsville Little League.
She was also a ball girl for several 1994 World Cup soccer games played at RFK Stadium in Washington.
That World Cup opportunity, gained through a luck of the draw, has left an indelible imprint on Sonberg.
"The way they played the game was beautiful," said Sonberg. "They were graceful, they pass the ball, they sweat, they get hurt and push themselves."
The people who have watched Sonberg carry Old Mill to the county girls soccer championship this season see some of those World Cup qualities in her game.
She has size, speed, good foot skills, field sense, is an excellent passer, very unselfish and plays the game with a passion.
Sonberg is also a humble player who never dwells on statistics (18 goals, five assists) or her individual play. When asked what made her tick as a player, Sonberg said simply: "I guess it's because I love the game."
A player who has proved herself at halfback, stopper and forward for Old Mill over four years did not need a game-winning goal for the county championship to make her career any more complete.
But Sonberg came through last Tuesday night against rival Severna Park at Arundel.
Only 23 seconds were left in the second overtime when Sonberg made what Sponsler called "a tremendous athletic play" to give Old Mill the county title, 1-0.
"The Severna Park fullback [Jess Miller] was shoulder to shoulder with Carina on the left side and another defender was closing in on her on the right," Sponsler said. "[Goalie] Shannon Chaney decides to come out of the box and Carina uses her left foot to chip the ball over Chaney's head and then the fullback collided with Chaney, leaving Carina almost all alone."
The ball was headed for the goal on the chip shot but Sonberg followed it up with a gentle tap to make sure it didn't veer away from the net.
Without the collision, Sponsler said Miller would have had a chance to beat Sonberg to the ball.
"It would have been a foot race but I believe Carina would have won the ball," said Sponsler. "It was a great goal."
Sonberg said she "just tried to get out of the way" when she saw the Miller-Chaney collision developing.
"It was definitely a shot I'll always remember because of what we got for it [county championship]. And it was my biggest thrill because it came against Severna Park."