When Sycamore soccer player Alex Barnhill scored a goal against Montgomery Central on Sept. 8, it didn’t seem significant because it is something she had done more than 100 times.
But the goal was special. It was her 116th career goal, breaking the county record of 115 previously held by Taylor Winslett of Cheatham County Central. Barnhill scored another goal in that game to bring a total of 119 heading into this week’s games.
Confidence has been the key for Barnhill on her way to the record. The senior said she believes every shot is going in before it gets there. “Because it usually does,” she said with a smile.
She expected to break the record, but she said getting it out of the way was a big relief.
“I was kind of like, ‘Oh my goodness, thank God I got it,’ ” Barnhill said. “I had missed so many goals in that game. I had so many opportunities and when I finally got it, I was able to relax.”
The scoring journey began her freshman season when she recorded her first goal against Overton in a road game. That first goal was much like her record-breaking tally: missed opportunities and being nervous made it difficult, but the ball finally went into the net on a shot right over the goalkeeper’s head. Barnhill scored twice more in that game.
She said her most memorable goal is neither her first nor record-breaking goal, but her 100th goal which came toward the end of her junior season in 2019.
“I didn’t know it was actually my 100th goal until we counted them up later, but Emily Fisher passed me the ball and I buried it in the top left,” Barnhill said. “It was big in that moment because it gave us some momentum in a regional playoff game.”
Barnhill, who has verbally committed to play soccer at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, finished her freshman season with 29 goals and pushed that total even further with 36 in her sophomore season. In her junior season, she found the net 35 times and this season she already has 19 goals. According to TSSAA records, Madison Luttrell of Covington High School set the state record with 243 goals from 2015-2018.
Barnhill started playing in recreational leagues at the age of four after watching her older brother Jason (who was also a Sycamore standout in soccer) and then moved to travel teams at the age of eight. She started her travel soccer career at Tennessee United, a team based in Hendersonville, and then moved to Tennessee Soccer Club, based in Franklin, just four years later. This will be her fifth season with that team.
“It’s just been so cool to see how I’ve improved since I started playing travel soccer because the level (of competition) is just so high and you have to adjust to the speed of play,” Barnhill said. “All of that has made me such a better player.”
Barnhill has been watching the U.S. Women’s National Team for a long time and enjoying their success on the international stage. Julie Ertz is her favorite player on the U.S. team. Barnhill said she has enjoyed watching the impact Ertz has had while observing how versatile she’s been for the national team.
As a child, Barnhill played soccer with her brother in their front yard.
“He was always the super-fast one and I was always the smarter one,” Barnhill said. “It was always good to go against each other.”
Soccer has been a huge part of Barnhill’s life, but she does have a few interests outside of the game. Lately, she’s been interested in health and fitness and psychology. Barnhill also said she’s looking forward to learning more about those topics in college.
Barnhill has always been interested in volleyball, saying she would have liked to play volleyball on a team if it wasn’t in the same season as soccer.
Barnhill has accomplished many things on a soccer field, but she said she gives a lot of credit to her teammates.
“The past few seasons, our team has done amazing things,” Barnhill said. “We’ve won three straight district championships and we’re looking for four. It’s been so great playing with these players; they’ve constantly made me better. My teammates have pushed me to be a better player.”
Year-by-year goal totals for Sycamore soccer player Alex Barnill, who broke the Cheatham County record of 115 goals earlier this month.
2017 (freshman): 29
2018 (sophomore): 36
2019 (junior): 35
2020 (senior): 19