Ella Carnahan is a longtime member of the Spokane Sounders / Shadow, going back 11 years with the club. In the fall she will head to Embry-Riddle AU down in Arizona, where she will keep another longtime connection intact.

Though she has played alongside many players with the club over the years such as Bre Koscielski and Olivia Olson, she is one half of the famous Deer Park Duo with Grace Martinson, who will be attending ERAU as the third member of the Martinson clan to do so.

Ella may be reconnecting with Grace down in Arizona – they played on different club teams most of the past season – but the move to the school was not all about staying together.

“I will be heading to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona at the end of July to continue my soccer career and study biology. I chose ERAU because I felt that I needed a new challenge in my life, something that takes my away from home and forces me to take on life by myself.”

That duo, though, was a powerful combination when together for the club and even more so for the 1A Lady Stags, who were a dominant force in the Northeast A League and often advanced to the state tournament, leading to “my favorite soccer moment was winning the state title in 2021.”

Winning the state championship was just one of many accolades for Carnahan. She was First Team All-League her junior and senior seasons along with a First Team All-State nod her senior year and for club a Girls Academy Talent ID Selection a year ago.

With club soccer, though, a lot of the best memories were the small things and relationships forged.

“Some of my favorite club moments come from the hot summer trainings when we finish our training by running through the cool sprinklers.

“I have so many great soccer memories that I will always cherish, but almost all of them include my amazing teammates and the hundreds of trainings and games that we’ve had over the years.

“I will miss my teammates the most,” she added about what she’ll miss most about club soccer. “Some of these girls I have been playing with for five-plus years and they have been with me through thick and thin. They will all be missed very much.”

Those memories where relationships may have informed her advice for other players. She said that older players should “Give it your all! It might seem like you have a lot of time left before you are in the big world, but you don’t. Give it your all in school, in your family and friends, and in the game of soccer.”

And for younger players she offered that they should “Take your time, enjoy your younger years. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself while you are young because it will only burn you out of the sport that you love. Play the game and put the hours in because you love it, not because you feel the obligation to.”

That love over obligation philosophy was something that Ella said came from her coaches.

“Kevin Moon and Josh Patino, both taught me that a great player is developed with hard work and love for the game.

“The most important thing that I learned from playing Spokane Sounders was that it takes sacrifice and the ability to put everything on the line when it comes to achieving your goals. Nothing comes easy and there are very few things that’s just going to be handed to you. If you put in the hard work, you will eventually see a difference.”

Her coaches were not the only influence she was thankful for.

“I want to thank my family for all of the support that they have given me. They taught me to be strong, independent, grateful, and to always trust my best judgment. If it wasn’t for then there is no doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t be the athlete, student, friend, and overall person that I am today.

Quick Hits

Favorite Soccer Players:

Julie Johnston (Ertz) was my favorite player growing up. I first discovered her back when she was still Julie Johnston, and she was the kind of player that stood out to me because the second she stepped on the pitch she was an absolute beast!

Favorite Soccer Teams:

US National Team

Favorite Road Trip Traditions:

Travelling with mom & road trip cookies!

Favorite Road Trip Location:

My favorite road trip location was North Carolina. It was definitely a different part of the country that I’ve never seen, and I got to do it with my mom which made it so much greater!

Parent POV – Jen Carnahan

A tough-minded defender, Ella’s style and personality has undergone much growth over the years according to her mother Jen.

“We once described Ella as a bull in a china hutch – she went full throttle for every ball, but she was not always able to maintain control. As she has developed, her ability to remain under control and be intentional with her touches has been a big growth area for Ella.”

“Soccer has definitely been instrumental in helping Ella to grow as a leader. She has found a strong voice not only with her teammates, but also with her coaches.”

That headstrong mentality also became important four years ago when she was returning from injury.

“In 2019 Ella tore her ACL and underwent repair surgery. Working back from that injury has helped Ella to truly appreciate every moment she gets on the field.”

And one of those moments that her mother also shares as a favorite memory is that state championship run with Deer Park, where Ella often played a more offensive role during the season until they came across more difficult opposition.

“Our favorite memory comes from high school soccer – it was the second half of the state championship game with minutes left when Ella scored the game winning goal to win the state championship. The extreme happiness I could see on her face that her team had reached the goal they had set for themselves is something I won’t forget.”

One of many for a family that will miss club soccer.

“Club soccer has given us time with our daughter that I don’t think we otherwise would have had. The hours in the car, time in hotel rooms together, and memories traveling have been amazing.”



Leave a Comment