Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

South Jersey Soccer Spotlight

Courtney Norton is a top defender.
Courtney Norton is a top defender.       CHRIS MELCHIORRE
Courtney Norton is a top defender. Gallery: South Jersey Soccer Spotlight

Spotlight on: Lenape senior Courtney Norton

Last season, Courtney Norton flew a bit under the radar.

She's one of the area's few defenders moving on to a Division I program for women's soccer. She's tall, athletic, and one of the most versatile all-around players in South Jersey.

But most of the narrative surrounding the Indians' tremendous defense last year revolved around stopper Rachel Johnson, one of the state's premier defenders, now playing at Old Dominion.

One of the state's other best defenders, in other words, went relatively unnoticed.

"I found that kind of funny," Lenape coach Kevin Meder said, "just because of how tremendously skilled Courtney is. She's tough. She's smart. She brings everything."

Norton is leading a Lenape defense that has allowed just 12 goals in 19 games, recording 11 shutouts.

Meder particularly praised the senior's versatility. Throughout her career, Norton has played center back, stopper, outside back, and, for the last five games, sweeper.

Meder said Norton's move to sweeper has been "phenomenal."

"I think it makes us that much more dangerous," he said. "I just think it's so impressive to watch the way Courtney will do anything to help us win."

Added Norton: "I like playing different positions. It gives you a different perspective; it gives you a better understanding of the game."

Norton recently was selected to the inaugural Choice Hotels International High School Girls All-American game on Dec. 7 in North Carolina, featuring 44 of the best high school soccer players in the country.

After that, she will move on to Rutgers University, where she will join a growing number of the area's top players, including former teammate Tori Prager.

But for now, she is solely focused on her senior year. She will try to help the Indians to their seventh consecutive Coaches Tournament title Saturday against Eastern.

"We're all pumped for the rest of this season," Norton said. "We've really been hard on ourselves recently, and it's been paying off. We think we're getting better as the season goes on."

- Chris Melchiorre

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