Erin Woodruff, Alexis de Groot and Carly Aronin, left to right, were soccer standouts.
  • Carly Aronin, Alexis de Groot, Erin Woodruff, freshmen
  • Riverwood International Charter High School

On her first day of high school last year, Erin Woodruff was more than a little excited.

Not just for the usual reasons – new school, new classes, new classmates. She was excited because she saw that two of her friends, fellow soccer players, also were enrolling at Riverwood International Charter High School. And she knew that when it came to playing soccer, they were good.

“I knew we would have something good going on,” she said.

They did.

Erin and Carly Aronin and Alexis de Groot, three freshmen, ran and kicked their way to starting spots on the Riverwood soccer team.

The team, expected to have only moderate success because it was supposed to be a “rebuilding” year, ended up one of the last eight competing in the state tournament. They made it, to use tournament parlance, to the “Elite Eight” before losing to a team from Columbus. It was only the third time that Riverwood’s team made it that far, said Donald Macoy, the team’s coach.

“It was cool that all three of us could play together on the varsity,” center midfielder Alexis de Groot said.

Alexis, who’s 14, figures she started playing soccer when she was 4. “I have pictures,” she said.

Alexis met Carly and Erin playing soccer in recreational leagues in and around Sandy Springs. “We’ve been playing together since we were 7 years old,” said Carly, who’s 14 now, plays forward and ended up the number two scorer on this year’s Riverwood team.

“The three of us were [on the same team],” Carly said. “We played together maybe four years.” Eventually, they split up as they moved on to other teams and different programs. Reuniting in high school was a thrill, said Erin, who’s 15 and plays center-forward.

“It’s kind of funny we all ended up in the same place,” Erin said. “It’s been kind of a surprise. It’s definitely been exciting.”

The three helped one another get used to high school and to playing against older girls. They never were really treated as “Those Freshmen,” they said. Instead, the older Riverwood players welcomed them onto the team.

“I looked forward to every single game we played,” Alexis said.

What’s Next:

Carly, Alexis and Erin expect to play soccer for Riverwood again next year. They hope to go further in the state tournament and would like to compete for a state championship. “When we made it to state, there were a lot of emotions, everyone was so excited,” Alexis said. “It was a lot of fun.”

However the team does next year, the three expect to continue playing soccer. “I feel free on the field,” Carly said. “I feel like the field is where I should be. It’s my favorite sport.”

-Joe Earle