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Protecting the nets

Brad Parker / The Brunswickan

Brad Parker / The Brunswickan

For most athletes, the thought of playing on not one, but two university sports teams can sound downright exhausting. For Brittany Carroll, however, it’s simply a way of life.

“I’ve been playing both soccer and hockey my entire life,” explained Carroll, a second-year kinesiology student. “I think I’d feel lost having one without the other.

“It’s a bit of a juggling act, but it’s definitely worth it.”

Despite her success in each sport, Carroll faced a number of difficult decisions leading up to her arrival at the University of New Brunswick in 2013.

“When I was growing up, I left my family and home in Labrador City to attend the boarding school Rothesay Netherwood to play hockey,” she said. “I ended up playing soccer there as well, as the athletic program allows you to play one sport each season.”

Carroll quickly gained recognition for her stellar play as goalie for a strong RNS soccer squad, where she led her team to several provincial finals. She also earned a spot on New Brunswick’s provincial team — an honour which led to her being discovered by the Varsity Reds coaching staff.

“Our provincial team shared the same goalie coach, George Lucas, as the Varsity Reds, which allowed me to gain some interest and exposure with the UNB team.”

Despite being heralded as one of the best goalies in the province, Carroll was not expecting to play soccer at the varsity level.

“I was originally planning on going to an American school to play hockey,” admitted Carroll. “The day before I was scheduled to leave, I decided to come to UNB to play soccer instead.

“I realized that I didn’t want to play just hockey, even though it was my primary sport at the time. I still loved soccer, and I’d rather attend a Canadian school where I would have the opportunity to play both. In the end, it was an easy decision for me.”

Since her arrival at UNB, Carroll has been making an impact on both the ice and field.

“Our hockey team won the league championship [last year], which was absolutely amazing. We won on home ice, which made the win even sweeter in my eyes. We rarely ever have fans out at our games, but the final tournament drew a ton of people which was nice.”

As the V-Reds backup goalie, Carroll contributed to the soccer team’s remarkable turnaround this past season.

“My first year here was a good season, but a bit disappointing. This season, however, was everything we could have hoped for. Just going from second last in the league to finishing first in the regular season was a huge accomplishment for our team.”

With three years of eligibility remaining, Carroll has high hopes for both teams in the future.

“I’d like to win the AUS championship for soccer, and have the opportunity to compete at nationals. In terms of hockey, a few more cups would be great.”

With four games remaining in their regular season schedule, the UNB Red Blazers sit second in the Eastern Canadian Women’s Hockey League.

“We’ve been struggling lately but doing well. We had a rough weekend, but are looking to get over that and to hopefully get two more wins next weekend.”

Carroll also noted that more than 40 girls attended fall tryouts for the team, thus demonstrating the growing popularity of women’s hockey at UNB.

But while former players are fighting a legal battle to earn the Red Blazers varsity status, Carroll is clear about the current team’s mentality.

“At the end of the day, we don’t really care if we’re varsity or not — we just want to be able to play at the most competitive level. To us, varsity is just a title. We just want to play the game we love against strong opponents.”

The Red Blazers will play host to the Holland College Hurricanes in a doubleheader this weekend. Game times are 3:15 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 21 and again at 3:15 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 22.

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