WASHBURN, Maine — Washburn High School’s Carsyn Koch made a tough decision a year ago.
She decided to take a year off from soccer to concentrate on cross-country.
She is one of several Washburn girls who play soccer and ran cross-country in the fall. She had already won two state Class C cross-country championships.
“I wanted to see how much I could improve in cross-country without the extra physical strain of soccer,” she explained.
She wound up regretting her decision, although she did win her third consecutive state title and guided the Beavers to their first team championship.
“But I was completely miserable. I missed soccer so much. I had played since I was little and I really love it,” said Koch who has returned to the soccer team this season and is much happier.
“It wasn’t worth it to me. I didn’t get the results [in cross-country] I wanted. I definitely improved but I expected a lot more improvement,” said Koch, who is also on the cross-country team this fall.
The most important races, the states and the New Englands, are run late in the fall when the weather and course conditions can be challenging.
“I was running in mud. I was ankle-deep in mud at the New Englands in Cumberland and you can’t get a PR [personal record] running in that. I had all these big goals I had set for myself. It was frustrating,” said Koch, who finished 28th in the New Englands after placing 26th the previous year in Rhode Island.
Adding to her frustration is that only the top 25 finishers earn All-New England status.
Her return to soccer was also inspired by her teammates, as she watched them lose a heartbreaker to Richmond in the state Class D final, 2-1 in penalty kicks.
It was a gut-wrenching experience for her as she watched from the bleachers.
“I had someone sitting next to me who had to continually pull me back into my seat. I lost my voice. I ran out onto the field [after the game] and I cried with them. We are such a small school. We are like a big group of sisters. We do everything together. I felt so bad for them,” said Koch.
Koch is glad to be back and has contributed immediately. Entering Monday’s game against Ashland, the senior winger had 11 goals for the 7-0 Beavers. She was second to central striker Mackenzie Worcester’s 20 goals. Joan Overman, the other wing who missed most of last season with a shoulder injury, has 10 goals.
Koch admitted she was a little rusty early but feels she is back on track now.
“Joan has done just as well. We haven’t missed a beat,” said Koch.
Washburn coach Marcie Barbarula and Koch’s teammates are happy to have her back.
“She’s the quickest girl on our team,” said senior midfielder Carmen Bragg. “She can play anywhere on the field. She’s also one of my real good friends.”
Adding to Koch’s enjoyment is the fact she has been joined by freshman sister Tori Koch, who is a midfielder.
“It’s good. She plays a little differently than I do but we do have similar styles and personalities. She’s very aggressive,” said Carsyn whose little sister is also a good cross-country runner.