Abby Carter comes back stronger after ACL injury

Published 9:50 am Saturday, November 10, 2018

Abby Carter started her senior season scared.

The Boyle County star was coming off of an ACL injury to her right knee late in the 2017 season and was cleared just before the start of this year.

“Coming in, I was scared,” she said. “I felt like there was no way that I could get back to how I was during the season last year. Coming into preseason it was rough, doing two-a-days straight after getting cleared. But my teammates were there, they encouraged me the whole way. I think after preseason ended, that’s when I thought, ‘ok, I can do this.’ Then every game, I felt more confident with myself.”

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Carter ramped up and, by the end of the season, was the most influential player on Boyle County’s district championship team. She scored 11 goals and had 16 assists from the midfield and is the Advocate-Messenger girls soccer player of the year.

“As far as her play, she was still very fluid, she still understood the concept of what she wanted to do with the ball,” head coach Brian Deem said. “Her biggest downfall, she was without a soccer ball for nine months. Her touch, you could see the frustration with her. That was a tough obstacle for her to overcome.”

Carter hit that hurdle in stride, though, and was stronger because of it. She said that, because her dominant right foot “wasn’t cooperating,” she worked more with her left.

And, evident in the 45th District championship against Danville, Carter’s left foot turned into a weapon.

She scored with a rocketed left-footed shot from outside of the box, the only goal of the district title game.

“I think during preseason I mostly used my left leg because my right leg just wasn’t cooperating,” Carter said. “Then I think they evened out during the season, and I started to not even think about it anymore, whichever foot the ball was on, that’s what I used. That helped me a lot, I had to use my left more.”

Both Carter and her coach said that there were times early in the year where she thought about giving up on getting back to her usual self: Her knee was causing her pain, she’d want to take it easy in practice. But Deem wouldn’t let her.

“Every practice when I would tell Coach Deem I was hurting, he’d tell me I was fine,” Carter said. “I would hate him for it in the moment but now I’m thankful for it, because I probably would’ve stopped. At the end of the season, he told me that I wasn’t anything different than before and he was right. I wasn’t scared anymore, I was ready to play.”

Deem said he could see her doing the mental gymnastics, working around the fear of re-injuring her knee.

“I think when she came in, I think she was on the surface extremely excited to come back and play. Internally, she was fearful,” Deem said. “I could see her mind racing through all the negative thoughts, all the what-ifs. The first month of preseason, it was a struggle. She would pull up in practice and you could tell she was going 75 or 80 percent. I told her, ‘it’s going to hurt. You’re going to have to learn to push through it.’ At the time, that’s not what she wanted to hear.”

It wasn’t until a midseason tournament at Louisville Male that Carter said she felt like she was back at her best.

“That tournament was miserable,” she said. “After that, we had spent half the season on the road. I think the second game of the tournament, I felt OK. My passes were fine, my touch was great. That’s when I noticed a difference, I felt like I was doing better than I thought I would be doing at that point.”

But Carter wasn’t at her peak, not until Deem challenged her in front of the team.

“We were starting to see more consistency during the Male tournament, then we came back to our tournament and the game that really stood out was the Oldham County game,” he said. “After that game, we said, ‘that’s Abby. That’s AC.’ It just continued. There was a point that I challenged Abby, she’s a very happy-go-lucky, positive player. I challenged her during a pregame talk, I told her, ‘bottom line, you’ve got to play 80 minutes of AC. Because when you play well, everyone else plays well.’”

And as Carter pushed to be her best, the Rebels improved. After the Male tournament, the Rebels finished the year 7-4, with all four losses coming to teams ranked in the top 10 in the state.

Deem said her leadership helped the Rebels reach another 45th District title and 12th Region runner-up finish.

“She was always making sure that people had a positive mentality, she always made sure that her teammates knew that Abby believed in them,” Deem said. “That encouraged them to believe in each other. What I liked most about Abby was that once she started to gain that confidence midway through the season, realize that she’s OK, she didn’t have to say much. Her play spoke. As her play improved, so did everybody else. If Abby was on that day defensively, everyone else was. That’s why she was such a great leader.”

Carter will play soccer at Centre College next year. She made Second Team All-State and is also First Team All-Area.

“It’s awesome. It just makes me super happy,” she said. “I’ve been playing soccer since I was four, and I don’t want to say this defines it, it just shows that I’ve worked hard and it shows through that.”


Advocate-Messenger Girls Soccer All-Area

First Team

Abby Carter, Boyle County

Lyzzi Prigmore, Mercer County

Chelsea Elmore, Boyle County

Kailyn Wilcher, Danville

Marianna Cortez, Garrard County

Nichole Mingey, Boyle County

Lindsey Warriner, Boyle County

Aubrey Jones, Mercer County

Abby Dean, Mercer County

McKenzie Settles, Lincoln County

Emma Warren, Garrard County

GK: Grace Gaffney, Danville

Honorable Mention

Abby Howard, Boyle County

Lindsey Wren, Boyle County

Hailey Cannon, Boyle County

Alyssa Montgomery, Boyle County

Lara Akers, Danville

Jaylin Nash, Danville

Holly Helmers, Danville

Abbie Hibbs, Danville

Kaela Welch, Danville

Lindsey HIler, Garrard County

Nancy Perez, Garrard County

Madisyn Batcke, Garrard County

Vanessa Hume, Garrard County

Abby Steele, Mercer County

Bella Garrett, Mercer County

Kaley Woods, Mercer County

Maddy Boyle, Lincoln County