Heading into this season, Julia Duncan needed 22 goals in order to best a record set at 76 by Jessica Kyle in 2002 to become the Lady Wildcats’ all-time leading scorer for career goals.
That number may have been lofty, but Duncan has already accomplished that and more this year. On Saturday, she set a new school record, netting her 77th goal of her career, in the Lady Wildcats’ 4-0 victory over Calvary Christian (Kentucky) in Gatlinburg.
By the end of that tournament in Gatlinburg, Duncan reached 80 goals. On Tuesday, she padded that career mark with four more scores in the Lady Wildcats’ 6-0 victory over Lawrence County, moving the all-time career record to 84 goals.
Following Tuesday’s win, the senior said she’s elated to set a new school mark. However, she was quick to add that she sees the accomplishment as a total team effort.
“[The record] means a lot to me. Probably a lot more than I can put into words right now,” Duncan said. “Honestly though, I couldn’t have done it without my teammates. I’m excited because I broke the record, but I couldn’t have done it without them. They mean the world to me and I give all the credit to them.”
When Duncan set the new school mark on Saturday, it came on her second goal in a hat-trick effort. Now with Tuesday’s game in the books, Duncan has already netted 29 goals this year.
“She’s setting the bar higher and higher,” Carson said. “Her career record is probably something that will be around for another 18-20 years unless we have another superstar on the horizon that is going to score a bunch of goals.”
With four games remaining on the regular-season schedule, and a district tournament game already guaranteed, Duncan still has a shot at breaking one more Tullahoma record. Duncan needs just eight more scores to set a single-season mark in goals, which was set at 36 also by Kyle, who graduated from THS in 2003. Kyle went on to play soccer at Tennessee Wesleyan, as a member of the Lady Wildcats’ state final team.
“I don’t know if she’ll reach that, even though we have five or six more games left,” Carson said. “Regardless, she’s already had a fantastic season. She’s up to 29 goals and we still have those few games left. So, we’ll see. She just might be able to do it.”
In all four years of her high school career, Duncan was a starter for the Tullahoma High School girls soccer team. Her freshman season, she netted 14 goals for the Lady Wildcats, receiving the team’s golden boot honor, given to the player who scored the most goals on the year.
During her sophomore year, Duncan added 24 goals to her career total. As a junior, she tallied a little less, netting 17 scores.
“Last year, I kind of feel like I sold myself short a little bit. I didn’t play to my full potential,” Duncan said. “This year though, I’ve had the mentality of, ‘This is my last year. I don’t want to have any regrets.’ I just want to go out there and play my best every night and whatever I do, I do. I’m just going out there and have been playing my hardest.”
Duncan’s success hasn’t just made its way to the soccer field. In fact, Duncan has been a starter for the Lady Wildcats on the basketball court.
During her junior season, Duncan surpassed the 1,000-point threshold, in a season that saw the Lady Wildcats win the District 8-AAA Tournament. According to Duncan, she sees a lot of similarity between the two sports. Her soccer coach added that he thinks she’s carried those basketball skills over to the soccer field.
“She’s just hard to play one-on-one,” Carson said. “Her acceleration is probably the key. Her skills on the basketball court, that first step in going around people and being able to execute sharp turns is what sets her apart. She’s able to create separation from defenders and then she has a great shot with both feet. That’s what you need.”
For the remainder of the soccer season, Duncan said she only has one goal, win out.
“I want to win out the rest of the season and then I want to go on past district play,” Duncan said. “The last three years, we haven’t been able to get past district. This year, I feel like we have the best team while I’ve been in high school, so I think we are very capable of going further than we have ever been.”
Duncan said she wants that potential winning to carry over to the basketball court as well. After not graduating a senior from last year’s district championship squad, the senior guard knows expectations are high. However, she embraces the challenge.
“I want to win the district championship again, because that was the most fun that I’ve had on the basketball court, probably in my whole life,” she said. “Of course I want to win district, and then win region. Honestly, I just want to play like how I’ve been this soccer season. I just want to play my hardest because this is my last year at Tullahoma and I want to go out with no regrets and know that I gave it my all the whole season.”
Before the calendar moves ahead to November though, Duncan said her focus is still on this soccer season. Up next, the Lady Wildcats will host Coffee County on Thursday in a battle for the Coffee Cup.
During the last two years, Tullahoma has secured the cup, but had to rally for those wins. In 2017, the Lady Wildcats trailed 2-0, but wound up winning 3-2. Last year, Tullahoma trailed 3-0 at halftime, and 4-1 in the second half, before notching a 5-4 victory in overtime.
“I am so excited to play Coffee County,” Duncan said. “I just hope this game isn’t like last year. I hope that it’s not as exciting and we have it end when it’s supposed to end.”
Kickoff for this Thursday’s night game is scheduled for 7 p.m. The junior varsity match will take place beforehand at 5 p.m.