Carper enjoys first season playing for the Inferno

By on July 24, 2019
Maddie Carper (left), an All-State player in her senior season last fall with the Manheim Central girls soccer team, was a first-year player with the Lancaster Inferno this year. Photo by Alan Johnson

Maddie Carper (left), an All-State player in her senior season last fall with the Manheim Central girls soccer team, was a first-year player with the Lancaster Inferno this year. Photo by Alan Johnson


Going back to their days as teammates on the PA Classics team, Manheim Central and ELCO stars Maddie Carper and Ryelle Shuey have kept touch.

So Shuey had her friend’s phone number and sent a text as tryouts were drawing near with the Lancaster Inferno women’s soccer team, encouraging Carper to give it a shot.

So did Barons’ coach Andrew Stoltzfus.

“I heard from both of them and decided to go for it,” the 2019 Manheim Central grad said.

Turns out that Carper earned a first-team roster spot and played four or five games for the Inferno.

This was the same Inferno squad which, on Friday and Sunday, July 12 and 14, defeated the Connecticut Fusion and New England Mutiny — both by scores of 2-1 — to win its second straight United Women’s Soccer East Conference title at Lusitano Stadium in Ludlow, Mass.

Jackie Richards, with whom Carper played on an ODP team a few years ago, scored the game-winning goal, snapping a 1-1 tie in the second half.

Although Carper was unable to make the trip due to a prior commitment, she watched the finals live on an app and was happy for her teammates.

“They won it last year and they’re definitely more than capable of doing it,” she said. “They just came out and beat the team they lost to twice (in the regular season), so they definitely had one of their greatest games and worked hard and I was proud of them for that.”

Last Thursday, the Francisco Cleaves-coached Inferno jetted to Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta for the UWS Championships. Unfortunately, since Carper doesn’t have a passport, she couldn’t travel with the team.

But the former Baron star will certainly be rooting for them back home in Manheim.

“All the girls are super nice and talented,” she said.

The same can be said for Carper, who earned All-State honors last fall while helping the Manheim Central girls win the District Three Triple-A championship for the second time in three years.

She is now getting set to continue her career for the Lebanon Valley College women, who are coached by Ephrata High School and Messiah College grad Leah (Sipe) McDermott.

Playing for the Lancaster Inferno was good preparation. The team got its 10-game regular season underway in May.

“It’s very competitive,” Carper said. “College is definitely to be on that kind of level, so it’s good to get used to that. Especially them just working hard, that’s what is going to get you where you need to be and it’s not going to be handed to you.”

Nothing was handed to her in tryouts, but she worked hard during two of those auditions and obviously impressed the Inferno’s coaches. Associate head coach Stephanie Cleaves then reached out in a text and shortly afterward, Carper received an email informing her that she had made the team.

“I was just super excited about it,” she said.

Going into her first season with the Inferno, Carper admitted that it was a bit “nerve-wracking,” playing with and against college players before she had played her first game with LVC.

“All the players are incredible,” she said, “and it’s very competitive, so I’m still getting used to that.”

Scoring her first goal no doubt had to be a big confidence booster. Playing for the Inferno’s reserve team in the Philadelphia area, Carper connected on a play which started in her team’s backfield.

“One of our center backs played it down the left flank for our midfielder and she dribbled and played a 45 ball back,” Carper recalled. “I remember there were three people around me and I took a touch with my left foot to my right foot. It was right inside the 18 and I chipped it over the goalkeeper’s head.”

With the Inferno’s first team, Carper — who tied for the Barons’ team lead last fall in points (38) while scoring 11 goals at midfield — competed at a forward spot. On the reserve squad, she played at either a center midfield or forward position.

Practices consist of not only 20 to 25 first-team players, but at least 10 from the reserve squad.

“There’s a lot of people,” Carper said. “They can only take 18 on a game day roster, so it makes it pretty tight. But everyone is pushing each other and it makes everyone play better in the actual game.”

With her career at Lebanon Valley College getting underway in the near future, Carper’s time with the Inferno will give her a lift.

“Going into college,” she said, “this is a good experience to get ready for that.”


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