Caroline Manley Defensive Team Leader
By: Jonathan Helwig
MTN Sports Reporter
When it comes to playing backline in soccer, communication and experience are key to success. Caroline Manley brings all that and more for the Lady Raiders defense.
Manley is a defender from Arlington, Tennessee going into her junior year taking on the task of developing the young core around her and standing out as a leader in the backline.
Manley is coming off a great year in 2020-21 starting all six games and being the only one on her team to play every minute possible of all six starts. She has started to take on a similar role this spring with her playing all 90 minutes in their last game against Vanderbilt.
Head coach for the Lady Raiders, Aston Rhoden, explained how important her position and experience is to the team and what she contributes.
"The position that she plays is certainly one that her leadership becomes important, because she sees the entire game and can help position the team in other areas of the field to help us get repossession of the ball".
Manley being able to see the game unwind gives her opportunity to coach those around her. It brings an X-factor to the team with her being able to stay in touch with those around her and reading the field. Here is what she had to say.
"Other than the keeper behind me I am the one that sees everyone, and I am the one that directs people".
With the addition of some new freshman to the backline of the Lady Raiders, Manley thinks it is important to build relationships early on and off the field.
“We have a young backline with people that haven't played before so it about forming relationships on the field and off the field to know how to speak to them, or if things aren't going right what do I need to say to them to get them in the game".
Taking on the leadership role that she embraced last season, it is a responsibility to become a mentor and someone who knows how to communicate effectively to win games.
Coach Rhoden understands how important chemistry with a team is and knows what Caroline can bring her junior year.
"The chemistry is very important and having someone who can connect them and has the experience like Caroline makes things easier for everyone".
One of Caroline’s best connections is her goalkeeper, Hannah Suder. Like Manley, Suder is also going into her junior year and since they have both been at MTSU, they have followed the path of building those off the field relationships as well.
Manley’s thoughts on her relationship with Suder. "She is my roommate, she is one of the ones I can talk to differently than the people on my left and right. We just have a different connection. She can take it; I can take it".
With the leadership and trust of those around her, expect a great follow up season with hopes of redemption after a C-USA tournament loss in the semifinals to Old Dominion.