Carmen Trobaugh remembers scoring goals, even at age seven.
Trobaugh recalls playing with her older sister’s team, taking the field with girls three years older than her, and dominating the play.
“I remember just kicking it and running by these people, and I just jumped over this girl’s feet and kept going,” Trobaugh said.
The then seven-year-old finished off the play with a goal, and the rest is history.
Trobaugh, who is finishing her final semester as a marketing communication major at Emerson, leads the women’s soccer team as a captain. She has been playing soccer for 16 years — and if that isn’t a sign of the 5-foot-8 inch forward’s dedication to her sport, a contract dug up by her mother last week is.
“My mom called me and was like, ‘I was going through old paperwork and found something,’” Trobaugh said. Her mother had uncovered a contract a 12-year-old Carmen had hand-written, pledging to not miss soccer games or practices for silly reasons, and Trobaugh said she had signed it at the bottom.
“I went to this haunted corn maze thing, and I loved it, but I had the worst time because I missed my game,” Trobaugh said. Soon after, Trobaugh got the idea to write up the contract, a testament her dedication.
“It was a contract I made for myself to be dedicated to the sport,” Trobaugh said.
Trobaugh said soccer has always been part of her life. At age five, she began playing in a recreational town league in Gales Ferry, Conn., where she lived most of her life. When she started handling players her own age with ease, Trobaugh began playing with older groups.
“I was so good when I was little, so fast,” she said.
From there, it was a host of youth teams. Trobaugh played for club teams in Connecticut like Oakwood and Southeast. She spent a summer playing at an Olympic Development Program (ODP) camp. And then came high school soccer, when, just like when she was seven years old, Trobaugh began her career with a bang.
As a freshman, Trobaugh said she entered her first year at the Williams School in Connecticut as a player unknown to her coach and teammates. She did not tell her coach of her club or ODP experience. But by the end of her first game, Trobaugh had scored three goals, and ended up in a headline of her town’s newspaper.
“She was always very dedicated,” said Richard Chrimes, who coached Trobaugh at the Williams school for four years. “I always thought Carmen had more talent and more experience than a lot of the other kids did.”
And just like when she was seven years old, her parents were there to watch.
“I have to give so much credit to my parents,” Trobaugh said.
To this day, her parents, Tony and Cindy, still make the trek from Gales Ferry to Boston, a near two-hour drive, to see Carmen play her home games at Rotch Field. Her dad, who coached Carmen when she began playing at age five and throughout her club soccer career in high school, helped Trobaugh get her start in the sport.
“My dad is one of the best coaches I’ve ever had,” she said. “He taught me everything I know.”
One thing that her dad did not teach her, however, is her speed. This season, Trobaugh has scored nine goals, eight of which have come in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC), both ranking top five in the league.
On the field, Trobaugh uses her speed to blaze by defenders. Her long stride combined with a silky touch on the ball keeps her in control at all times. A deft scoring sense and a nose for the goal makes her dangerous anywhere around the 18-yard box. And a demonstrative, yet caring attitude toward her teammates makes her a go-to player for the Lions.
“She knows that the responsibility is on her, but she has still stepped up and put the ball in the back of the net,” said Meghan Foehl, another senior captain on the team.
In head coach David Suvak’s new formation, Trobaugh is the lone forward, with five players in the midfield, and four on defense. But Foehl said Trobaugh has done an excellent job embracing the role.
“We’re playing a 4-5-1, she’s up there by herself, and she has stepped into that role and helped us out by getting the goals,” Foehl said.
However, Trobaugh, who said she is a natural midfielder, is still always looking to set up her teammates.
“I’d rather give people assists,” Trobaugh said, who has three assists this season. “I scored a lot in high school. I did a lot for my team in high school. But you don’t get recognized unless you score. I think I played better last year on defense [for Emerson].”
However, Trobaugh has been quite recognizable this season. Of her eight conference goals, three have been game winners. Emerson has won seven games in the GNAC, and Trobaugh has been a major player in those victories, as the Lions are fighting for a GNAC playoff berth.
“I need her to play well in big games, and I think she has that ability,” said Suvak. “She’s a very unpredictable player, which is exactly why she’s a dangerous forward.”
When she’s not playing soccer for Emerson, Trobaugh stays involved in sports. Last year, she interned with the Boston Breakers, a Women’s Major League Soccer (WMLS) franchise. When she graduates this December, Trobaugh will have the opportunity to go back to the Breakers when its season begins in 2012, according to Trobaugh. Wherever her career takes her, though, Trobaugh says she wants to work in sports.
“Soccer is my number one sport. I don’t know what I’m going to do without it,” Trobaugh said. “I’ve never not played an organized sport.”
Whenever Trobaugh’s final game is, whether it be this Saturday, or in a month’s time, she acknowledged what soccer has taught her.
“I wrote my college essay on soccer,” Trobaugh said. “You learn how to be a leader and take things into your own hands when you need to. But it’s also good to learn how to depend on people.”
Still, the quirky Trobaugh is not all business. Foehl recalled how Trobaugh used to decorate the team van before a big game. Trobaugh would go out and buy supplies, according to Foehl, and then get the keys to the van. When her teammates arrived later that day, they were met with streamers, signs, and look-a-like cutouts of themselves draped over the insides of the vehicle.
“She’s always putting other people on the team before herself,” said Elizabeth Corti, a junior on the team who has played three years with Trobaugh. “It’s flattering to see she cares so much.”