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Record-setting Carmen Anderson leading Missoula Hellgate on historic soccer run

Carmen Anderson 1.jpg
Posted at 10:15 PM, Oct 23, 2023

MISSOULA — Carmen Anderson is in the midst of a historic run with the Missoula Hellgate Knights girls soccer program.

The senior and two-time captain has recorded 47 assists in her illustrious career, which set a new state record in Class AA. The previous record was 45 which was held by Billings Skyview's Jordan Roe.

But to Anderson, that milestone belongs to her teammates.

"People can see the stats, but really, my teammates are doing just as much," Anderson said. "My teammates are the ones that are getting me the ball, so they help out immensely with me being able to score and then I try to return the favor as best I can, but yeah, I owe my teammates a lot."

By doing so, Carmen followed in the footsteps of her older brother, Marcus Anderson, a former Gatorade Player of the Year for Hellgate, who currently owns the career assists record on the boys side.

Now, both milestones reside in the Anderson household.

"It meant a lot, especially since I don't think a ton of siblings get to do that, and breaking the same record as my brother was just super cool," she said. "I love assisting as much as I love scoring, so I think being able to help out my teammates and get that milestone was pretty cool.

"I just go out there and play my game. I hope for the best. I don't always have a perfect game, but I try to contribute as much as I can, help out my teammates. If I'm not scoring, at least try to be the one assisting or making different things happen. But I think this team has a lot of faith in me and I have a lot of faith in my teammates, so it just kind of comes when it comes."

To put it simply, Anderson was born to play soccer.

The senior forward and four-year starter is the daughter of Jay Anderson, the long-time boys coach at Hellgate.

So whether it was her brother or her dad, Carmen grew up with the game, and in turn, has thrived.

"I can't remember a time when I wasn't playing soccer," she laughed. "My dad, we go through strategy, we watch game film together, he takes stats and helps me with what I need to improve on. ... We're pretty into it, and I just think him and then my brother who played here for four years and was such a great player, and I think watching him and obviously trying to live up to what him and my dad have built, just trying to do the best I can."

The best she can has resulted in a record-breaking career, and Anderson is also one of the top goal scorers in the state with 24 on the season, as the Knights have cruised through the season and earned the top seed in the playoffs out of the Western AA. After this season concludes, Anderson is set to continue her soccer career at the college level, as she has committed to play for NCAA Division II Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington.

"It's been special, it's been really fun," Anderson said. "I didn't think that as a freshman I'd be where I am today, and that comes a lot from my teammates, my coaches, just everyone helping me get to where I am today, helping break milestones and become semifinalists, hopefully state champions, but it's been really fun. It's been special and I'm just super grateful for my time here.

"I think that just comes with confidence, I think it comes with growing up and seeing when I was a freshman and sophomore and seeing those upperclassmen and how they do things, kind of learning off of them. But then also including some of my own ways of how I like to lead, and I think I've grown a lot as a player, too. I think I've become more dynamic and an all-around better soccer player. I think I've just grown a lot as a player and team leader."

In 2020, Anderson was a freshman and part of a Hellgate squad that advanced to the Class AA semifinal round for the first time in program history. Now, Anderson and the rest of the Knights get set for their third semifinal game in four years on Tuesday and with a win could get to the program's first-ever state championship game, a moment Anderson and her fellow seniors are hoping to close their high school careers with.

"I think it's really cool to see where this program has gone," Anderson said. "Now, I think a lot of teams see us as a threat, and going into the semis just shows that we're here to win and we've gotten so much better. I think we are just ready for it.

"I would love to end my four years with a state championship, but I've got to play every single game like it's my last. I got to give it my all because it could be my last, I don't want it to be, but games don't always go your way. But I think if us as a team, if we just play how we know how to play and control the things that we can control, I think we'll do pretty good."

Hellgate hosts Bozeman Gallatin at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the semifinal round of the Class AA state playoffs.