Betts

Caroline Betts can’t remember her first high school goal.

That’s understandable since it was back in eighth grade and she’s scored so many since then.

The Christ Presbyterian Academy senior has found the back of the net 185 times during her career and was named the Gatorade Tennessee Girls Soccer Player of the Year last season.

“She’s probably the most talented player I’ve ever worked with,” CPA coach Tom Gerlach said. “This is my 34th season, so I’ve had a lot of seasons under my belt. The thing that sets Caroline apart is the complete package.”

Former U.S. national team co-captain Alex Morgan announced Betts as the player of the year winner at an online awards ceremony.

“I was, like, Alex Morgan just said my name.” Betts said. “Like that’s crazy. That was really exciting to get that.”

The CPA forward had 38 goals and 30 assists last season, leading her team to the Division II-A semifinals and a 14-1-3 record.   

“She’s a once-in-a-career type player that we’re just really blessed to have,” Gerlach said. “It was two years ago last week that she scored her 100th goal and I just remember the first thing out of her mouth when a reporter asked her (about it) and she goes, ‘My teammates had to assist me 100 times for this to happen, so I want to give the credit to my teammates.’ ”

Betts is the leader of the Caroline Connection, the CPA captains that also include Caroline Moore and Caroline Wamble.

Sometimes the younger players say Caroline in a group and all three turn around.

CPA had four Carolines last year, but Caroline Avinger graduated.

“Last year, having four of us -- that was crazy,” Betts said. “We all had to go by last names, otherwise it would be impossible.”

Moore, an Oral Roberts commit with 71 career goals and 56 assists, forms a potent one-two combo with Betts.

“It’s her ability to use her teammates – that’s what sets her apart in my opinion,” Moore said. “Yeah, she can dribble through pretty much any defense or any player, but that’s not what she does. That’s why I love playing with her because we connect really well.”

Moore describes Betts as a “selfless” player who has an amazing awareness of where her teammates are on the field.

The Lions also have two sets of identical twins from the Wood family: juniors Shelby and Mary and freshmen Katherine and Britton.

“That’s a rarity, right there,” Gerlach said.

Betts set a national record with seven straight hat tricks during her sophomore season.

“I think she had 13 (hat tricks), maybe 14 that year,” Gerlach said. “I think in her junior year she scored in every single game she played in.”

She scored five goals in one game her sophomore year.

Betts committed to Vanderbilt, picking the Commodores over Tennessee, Virginia Tech, William & Mary and Oklahoma State.

“My parents and grandparents went (to Vanderbilt),” Betts said. “I’ve grown up going to all sorts of Vandy games, really, my whole life. They have a soccer program and academics that I really like.”

Betts said Vandy checked all the boxes, making it seem like the right fit for her.

CPA is off to a 3-0-1 start in its first year in a new classification. The TSSAA lowered the minimum enrollment for DII-AA to 425, putting the Lions 24 over.  

“It’s a much tougher division,” Betts said. “I’m excited for the challenge and I think all the girls are. It’s going to be a tough ride, but I definitely think we can do really well this season.”

Betts gets double- and triple-teamed in most games.

“Obviously, it can be frustrating because there’s not much time once you get the ball, but I have to learn to play where there’s not much time on a ball and move it quickly,” Betts said. “It’s making me realize using teammates (is important.) It’s not just me trying to take on the whole back line or something.”

Betts, who has 90 career assists, scores in a variety of ways.

“I’m dominantly right-footed, but I’ll even find that I score a lot of goals with my left foot and I won’t even realize it,” Betts said. “I don’t think I have a certain way that I do the best. It’s just kind of like whatever happens in each game.”

She doesn’t know what it’s like to lose a home game. The school is 64-0-4 in its last 68 home games.

The Lions’ last loss at CPA was way back in 2015 when Betts was in sixth grade. 

Battle Ground Academy has faced Betts 10 times during her career. They are the reigning state champs in their class. 

“Anytime you give her one little stab of the ball and you don’t actually win it, then she’s definitely going to have that explosive touch to get by you,” BGA coach Jan Morrissey said. “She’s got one big explosive step and then she continues to kind of turn on the engine a little bit to really seal the deal from the defender.”

Once Betts seals off defenders, their only option is to foul. Her cutback step makes it difficult for defenders to catch her once she pulls away unless they get help from teammates.

“Her knack for the goal is also quite good,” Morrissey said. “She can put away a shot at almost any angle. The times that we’ve played her, we’ve put our best defender on her and she doesn’t need much room.”