Record-breaking season keeps Wills’ spirits high
by Staff Writer
At first, even for a scoring machine like Bri Wills, the state single-season record of 76 goals seemed unattainable. After all, the Davidson Day School senior had set the Mecklenburg County record with 58 goals the year before, and that didn’t come close to the state mark.
“Going into the season, in my head, I was like, ‘I don’t know if (breaking the state record is) possible,’” Wills recalled. “I wanted it so bad, but I just kept thinking, ‘I’d have to score 77 – that’s a lot of goals.’”
As it turned out, Wills indeed was more dominant than she was last season, booting in exactly 77 goals to break the record. She also added 13 assists, which helped give her the nod as Carolina Weekly Newspaper Group’s 2011 Lake Norman-Area Girls Soccer Player of the Year.
Wills was unable to be stopped this season, although opposing teams typically went to extreme measures to try.
“There wasn’t one game that I wasn’t man-marked by at least one player,” Wills said. “The most ridiculous thing was, on free kicks, this team would literally sandwich me. They had one (defender) directly in front of me and one directly behind me.”
“Of course, I got out of it, but I thought, ‘This is kind of insane,’” she said. “There were two people just literally touching me. Another time, there were about four people kind of zone-marking me. That was ridiculous, too.
“It got frustrating, but the best way to get back at people is to score. And teams quickly learned that if they were marking me that hard, that left several good players on my team who were open, and we scored. They just couldn’t stop us.”
Wills, whose squad went on to win the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 1A title, didn’t have a perfect season, however. In the state semifinals against Wilson’s Community Christian School, the same game she scored the record-breaking goal, Wills went down with a serious leg injury after the opposing team’s goalie dove on her while pursuing the ball.
“I broke my tibia, my fibula, dislocated the ankle, and I have some nerve damage – but the doctors said, hopefully, it will come back over time,” Wills said.
The May 20 injury was so severe that Wills still is unable to walk on her right leg, forcing her to use a wheelchair most of the time. In addition, she now must sit out her freshman season at Appalachian State University as a medical redshirt. Not that Wills is distraught over the decision.
“I’m really happy about that,” she said. “I’ll get a lot of rehab and physical therapy up there, so I’ll get to focus on really getting myself back together without having the pressure and the rush of healing really fast, because that could cause more injuries.
“I’ll also get to really focus on my academics and college life, so I’ll definitely be ready to play after that.”