Franklin native and Independence High School alum Julie Garst has enjoyed quite the impressive 2019 season.
Garst scored three of Belmont’s six goals in the Ohio Valley Conference tournament, at which the Bruins became the first-ever No. 6 seed to win it all. Her performance earned her tournament MVP and a spot on the All-OVC tournament team. She was also named to the All-OVC second team on Nov. 7.
Garst is no stranger to writing her name in the record books as she left Independence as the all-time leader in goals (79) and set the single-season record for goals scored with 33. Currently, her 19 career goals are tied for fifth on Belmont’s all-time goals list and she has the seventh-most points (44) in program history.
“It’s just been a joy for the last three years to coach her,” Belmont coach Heather Henson said. “She’s such a sponge when it comes to training. That’s just a player that you want to coach day in and day out. She at one point wasn’t scoring a lot of goals, but she kept creating so many opportunities. Our team as a whole has found wins because of that. She’s not only a goal scorer, she creates opportunities for her teammates.”
The Belmont junior has tallied seven goals and 18 points for the OVC champion Bruins, who face No. 1 seed North Carolina on Saturday at 5 p.m. in the opening round of the NCAA women’s soccer tournament. Garst has been a dynamic player on the road as four of her goals and nine of her points have come away from E.S. Rose Park. The Bruins will be relying on that on-the-road production against a high-powered UNC side.
“I think we just have to go into the tournament with a positive mindset, ready to take on whatever they bring,” Garst said. “I know nerves are a thing in the NCAA tournament, but as long as we go out there, play like we know how to play and fight our battle, we’ll be fine.”
Garst carries a 3.96 grade-point average in her nursing program, along with teammates Shannon Maitland and Haley Poynter, where she’s currently balancing her clinical work with training for the upcoming NCAA tournament.
“It takes a lot of learning about time management,” Garst said. “I definitely think I’ve gotten a lot better with my time management. Having soccer as an outlet to relieve stress is really nice. It honestly helps me do better in the nursing program because I have all these teammates who are supporting me, and I have this way to get the stress off my shoulders.”
Added Henson: “For Julie to have a 3.9 in the midst of clinicals…her ability to separate (academics and athletics) is one of the most impressive components. She doesn’t find herself utterly overwhelmed. She does a great job of balancing it and enjoying her life. I think that helps her raise her level both on the field and in the classroom.”
The 5-foot-2 forward was named to the College of Sports Information Directors Association (COSIDA) Academic All-District team on Tuesday, which honors the nation's top student-athletes for their combined performances on the field and in the classroom.
Garst was named to the District 3 second team consisting of a region of North Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee. She was one of just five OVC players to be named to the team, and it’s just the 12th time a Belmont women’s soccer player has earned the honor.
This post originally ran in our sister publication, the Nashville Post.