Fuller: From Blue Devil to Golden Bear

Oct. 15, 2002


By Debbie Rosenfeld-Caparaz

Most athletes don't transfer for their senior seasons.

But Carly Fuller, the youngest of four soccer players in her family, wasn't concerned with tradition.

After spending three seasons as a starter on the Duke soccer team, the defensive midfielder decided to finish her collegiate career at California.

The Portland, Ore., product experienced individual success with the Blue Devils, posting 39 points from 16 goals and seven assists during her career. She was a three-time All-ACC and two-time All-South honoree, leading her team to three NCAA Tournaments.

It wasn't that Fuller was unhappy at Duke. She just aspired for much more on the soccer field and felt she needed a change to fulfill her goals.

'I loved Duke, and I loved my teammates and loved the school and everything about it, but I wasn't happy soccerwise,' said Fuller, who played youth soccer with Cal All-American Laura Schott. 'I just felt like we would do well, but the ACC is a tough conference, and we'd always end up in the middle of the pack, make the tournament and get to the second or third round and get beat. I decided to come to Cal and try to win a national championship.'

Fuller was recruited to play for the Bears as a senior at Tualatin High School in 1998-99 and formed a positive impression of Cal and coach Kevin Boyd's program. When the time came to look for a new school, the former Parade All-American chose Cal for the strength of the soccer program, the school's academic ranking as the nation's No. 1 public university and her pre-existing friendship with several Cal players.

The Bears are 7-4-1 (0-2 Pac-10) heading into Friday's Pac-10 home opener against Oregon. In the non-conference season, they have already defeated two third-ranked teams in Texas A&M and Santa Clara, plus seventh-ranked Wake Forest.

Fuller has made an immediate impact towards Cal's success. She is second on the team in both points (11) and goals (4), including game-winning scores against Ohio State and Wake Forest. The 5-9 player is also a stabilizing force for the Bears' defense and serves one of the most dangerous long balls of anyone on the team.

As a former ACC player, the goal against Wake Forest, her former conference rival, has been one of her most memorable moments of the year.

'Starting in a Cal uniform and proving myself to the team have been memorable,' said Fuller. 'Going out there and playing as a team is important. Also, the goal against Wake Forest was pretty big time. We play them in the ACC, and I had never lost to them. I didn't want to come here and lose to them.'

Fuller's competitive spirit dates back to her childhood in Portland. All three of her older brothers, Garth, Nate and Ian, grew up playing soccer and went on to play at the college level. Garth and Nate lettered at Cornell, and Ian competed at Clemson.

It was two-on-two in the backyard for as long as Fuller can remember. The Fuller children all played as center midfielders growing up, with Ian arguably the most accomplished of the Fuller siblings. The New England Revolution rookie will compete in Major League Soccer's championship game on Sunday.

Carly aspires to compete as a pro in the WUSA, but Ian has helped to keep her focused on the present.

'I definitely want to (compete professionally),' said Fuller. 'That's a huge goal of mine. It's not as glamorous as Ian thought it would be. It's pretty exciting for him, but there's a lot of disappointments. He tells me all of the time to cherish college soccer. You'll never have anything like it. It's so much fun, and there's a team atmosphere. It's a lot different and more individual when you're older.'

Carly's parents, Tim and Lesli, are such soccer fanatics that they moved to Savannah, Ga., when Carly was a sophomore at Duke, so they could attend more of Carly's and Ian's games. They only saw one or two games Carly's freshman season.

With Carly's move to Berkeley, it has put a kink in her parents' soccer viewing. They have traveled to several of Cal's games and have plans to make one more trip to the West Coast this year.

With the addition of Fuller to the Bears, junior Ashley Valenzuela has moved to central defense to make room for Fuller. Relinquishing her old position has been a small price to pay for the addition of a talented soccer player and roommate.

'She makes us 10 times better,' said Valenzuela. 'She is so good. She can score. She's good at distributing the ball. She does everything well. There's nothing that she's not good at. She's so composed. She fits right in.'

The quote is a tribute to a new kid on the block who traveled more than 2,000 miles to pursue a national soccer title. Of course, Carly Fuller is not your typical new kid, either.

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