Varsity Soccer

Senior soccer star takes emotional last touch on senior night after injury

Carroll senior Hanleigh Allen was honored with a ceremonial first touch at the Golden Eagles' senior night after suffering a potentially season-ending ankle injury against Maize.
Carroll senior Hanleigh Allen was honored with a ceremonial first touch at the Golden Eagles' senior night after suffering a potentially season-ending ankle injury against Maize. The Wichita Eagle

As the whistle blew, Hanleigh Allen knew she was about to take her last touch.

Allen suffered torn ligaments in her ankle on May 4 against Maize. There were five minutes left in the 4-1 victory when she collided with the Maize goalkeeper.

She got her foot to the ball before the collision and chipped it into the corner of the net. On the play that potentially ended her high school career, she scored.

Thursday was a momentous day at Carroll. The Golden Eagles hosted East for the City League championship and senior night.

Allen was on the field when the starting lineups were announced. When her name was called, the Carroll crowd roared.

Barely able to walk, Allen kicked the ball out of bounds when the opening whistle blew. She broke down in tears.

“I told coach, 'I don't care if I'm on the field for .1 seconds,' ” she said. "I just want to touch that ball one last time."

Allen is one of the all-time great scorers in Carroll history. Coach Greg Rauch heard about Allen when she was in middle school. He was coaching her sister at the time when he ran into Allen’s dad.

“Wait 'til you see the next one,” Mark Allen said.

As soon as Hanleigh touched the pitch for Carroll, Rauch said he could tell that her dad was right.

Since then, Allen has become one of the most well-known players in the Wichita area for her goal-scoring ability. She has certainly made a name for herself, and that has become clear since her injury.

Allen said the outpour of support has been overwhelming.

“It's a reality check to me,” she said. "I didn't know that I was that good of a player. When this injury came around, I thought, 'Oh, I'm just a mediocre player.' But hearing all this stuff, I'm starting to realize maybe I did have an impact on this program and on this school."

Rauch said Allen has been a great player and a better teammate.

“All of us wanted to honor her,” he said. "The players on the field all understand what she represents. She's a superstar in my mind, but she has never acted like it."

Allen’s last touch on Thursday night was an honor few players get the chance to receive. It is reserved for players who have earned it, for those who have sacrificed and supplied for the program.

Rauch said Allen has certainly done that.

Allen said her time at Carroll has been irreplaceable. The relationships she has forged have been lifelong and to wear the Eagles’ uniform has been an honor.

Thursday might have been her last chance to wear that uniform, but she cashed in on that opportunity.

“I tried my best not to cry,” she said. "As soon as I kicked it, I thought, 'Wow, I cannot believe that is the last time.' "

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