C.M. Wright star Mang back af­ter two mostly lost sea­sons

Af­ter 2 ACL tears, ju­nior has 12 goals, five as­sists this year

Baltimore Sun - - VARSITY - By Glenn Gra­ham glenn.gra­ham@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/Glen­nGra­hamSun

On the soc­cer field, C. Mil­ton Wright star Carolyn Mang is con­stantly con­sid­er­ing her next move.

It can be a per­fectly timed run to get be­hind a de­fense. Or a one-touch pass that breaks free an open team­mate. In both cases, the re­sult is of­ten a goal for the Mus­tangs.

What the 16-year-old ju­nior mid­fielder no longer thinks about is what kept her off the field for most of the past two sea­sons.

Dur­ing her ex­cep­tional fresh­man sea­son in 2014, af­ter post­ing 11 goals and three as­sists in the team’s first 10 games, Mang tore her left ACL. Af­ter surgery, six months of re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and then feel­ing as if she was just get­ting back to top form, she tore her right ACL play­ing club ball last year in May. More surgery, more re­hab and a lost sopho­more sea­son.

For Mang, who has been play­ing soc­cer since she was 6 years old and had never suf­fered a se­ri­ous in­jury, the sig­nif­i­cant set­backs were dev­as­tat­ing. But through it all, she has come to ap­pre­ci­ate so much.

“I learned a lot about my­self,” she said. “It’s def­i­nitely not easy re­habs, and it re­ally taught me how much I can over­come and how strong I truly am, es­pe­cially emo­tion­ally.”

This sea­son, the Mus­tangs are 7-3 and Mang has picked up where she left off as a fresh­man, al­ready scor­ing 12 goals and adding five as­sists. She is a cap­tain, a cat­a­lyst and an in­spi­ra­tion to her team with a nat­u­ral feel for the game that few high school play­ers can match.

It was ev­i­dent in a re­cent game against Leonard­town, when she scored a ty­ing goal in the fi­nal minute of the first half.

In an in­stant, she rec­og­nized the gap be­tween two de­fend­ers and burst through to reach a ball sent for­ward by a team­mate.

Her ex­plo­sive pace left her alone with the goal­keeper to find the open cor­ner at the far post.

There’s a run­ning joke on the side­line be­tween C. Mil­ton Wright coach Paul Austin and his as­sis­tant, Jamie Fil­iaggi, and it was told yet again af­ter the goal.

“Ev­ery time she makes a fab­u­lous play, I al­ways tell Jamie, ‘Yeah, it’s all coach­ing,’ ” Austin said. “And then we laugh.”

Mang has al­ready given Austin plenty of ma­te­rial.

“Against John Car­roll, you should have seen it,” he said. “She had a ball come to her over the top that was maybe 35 yards out in be­tween two de­fend­ers. She headed it for­ward to her­self and it came down and then, on the vol­ley, she scored from 30 yards out. I turned to Jamie and said, ‘I taught her that.’ ”

Soc­cer came nat­u­rally to Mang and it was no­tice­able im­me­di­ately.

She was fast and ag­gres­sive, the one who al­ways scored af­ter com­ing out of the pack of tiny play­ers with the ball. She would come home from school, grab her soc­cer ball and off she would go. It was noth­ing for her to watch an en­tire pro­fes­sional game on TV, closely ex­am­in­ing the play­ers’ moves and the tendencies.

Over the years, Mang started play­ing on travel teams that were one age group ahead of her to go up against the best play­ers and im­prove her skills.

“As soon as she started play­ing soc­cer, she just had a re­ally keen in­ter­est and she didn’t want to play any other sports. It was kind of love at first sight with the sport and her,” said her fa­ther, Steve Mang.

For the past six years, she has played for the touted Bethesda Soc­cer Club, which is spon­sored by adi­das and is a mem­ber of the Elite Clubs Na­tional League. Dur­ing the spring sea­son, she prac­tices two to three times dur­ing the week in Mont­gomery County — the typ­i­cal five-hour round trip from Bel Air in­cludes do­ing her home­work dur­ing the drives. She plays in games and col­lege show­case tour­na­ments dur­ing the week­ends. Away games in the ECNL can be Carolyn Mang also plays with Bethesda Soc­cer Club, do­ing her home­work on the way to and from spring prac­tices. as far away as North Carolina, and in Au­gust, Mang’s soc­cer tal­ents took her even far­ther.

Nom­i­nated by her club team in con­junc­tion with gen­er­a­tion adi­das in­ter­na­tional, Mang was one of 30 girls through­out the coun­try se­lected to par­tic­i­pate in a one­week train­ing camp in Ger­many with the FFC Frank­furt women’s team, widely con­sid­ered the top club in the coun­try.

“That was re­ally cool — an awe­some ex­pe­ri­ence,” Mang said. “It’s def­i­nitely dif­fer­ent soc­cer played over in Ger­many from what we play here. I think a lot of times here we fo­cus so much on the ath­letic as­pect of the game — how fast can you run and how big you are. In Ger­many and other parts of Europe, they play more tech­ni­cal, which re­ally suits me well be­cause I’m not very big and like to play tech­ni­cal with the ball and see the field well. It was per­fect for me.”

Play­ing for the Mus­tangs also suits Mang just fine. High school play is not the same as club ball, but she loves her team­mates and they love her. When de­scrib­ing all of the at­tributes she brings to the team, Austin first talks about how hum­ble she is and her team-first ap­proach.

Days af­ter her first in­jury, Mang was back at prac­tice sup­port­ing her team­mates. Last sea­son, as hard as it was hav­ing to watch in­stead of play, she served as the team man­ager and pro­vided pos­i­tive in­struc­tion.

On the field, she al­ways wants to set up team­mates as much as to find her own shot.

Se­nior de­fender Ale­cia Ro­tunno had a rare chance to play up front dur­ing her sopho­more year and Mang, then a fresh­man, made sure it was mem­o­rable.

“She re­ally wanted to help me get a goal. So I re­mem­ber she sent me a per­fect ball and we ac­tu­ally scored off of it. That was a great mo­ment for me,” Ro­tunno said.

De­spite the short­ened fresh­man sea­son, Mang was eas­ily cho­sen the Up­per Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Ath­letic Con­fer­ence’s top player by league coaches. She earned all-state hon­ors along with be­ing named to The Bal­ti­more Sun’s All-Metro sec­ond team.

That sea­son, the Mus­tangs came away with a 3-1 win over Har­ford County ri­val Fall­ston with Mang scor­ing a goal. Cougars coach Mark Han­nahs re­mem­bers how long it took for him to take no­tice of Mang.

“About one minute. Her skill level was ap­par­ent. She moved down the left side and the way she kept the ball so close to her foot, I was like, ‘Wow, we may have our hands full,’ ” Han­nahs said.

“She’s a team player. She could prob­a­bly dom­i­nate ev­ery game, but she tries to get ev­ery­body in­volved.”

With 10 starters back from last year to go with Mang’s re­turn, the Mus­tangs have the goods to make it a spe­cial sea­son. And what’s on Mang’s mind right now? “It’s go­ing to take us all on the same page, work­ing hard all the time and I think we have a re­ally good chance of win­ning a state ti­tle this sea­son,” she said. “There’s a lot of good com­pe­ti­tion and it’s def­i­nitely go­ing to be fun.”

KENNETH K. LAM/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

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