The three-time Ivy League Rookie of the Week Paolo Carroll ’22 has been a crucial part of the Yale men’s soccer team’s success this year.
The team has come out strong so far, with four wins, three losses and one draw to date. Carroll is a leading figure on the team and has scored 11 points from four goals and three assists. Currently, Carroll leads the Ivy League in points and is tied for the lead in goals. Many of his points have come in closely-contested matches, such as his assists on both goals in Yale’s 2–2 draw against then-No. 4 Michigan State.
“His personality off the field is reflected on the field,” midfielder Will Seidman ’22 said. “He’s confident. He’s outgoing. He’s a really nice kid who everyone gets along with. He’s definitely a leader on the team even though he’s a first year.”
Hailing from São Paulo, Brazil, Carroll was a two-time Player of the Year and International High School MVP at Fundação Anglo Brasileira de Educação e Cultura. As his many accolades might suggest, collegiate soccer wasn’t always his destination.
Carroll chose to wait on a professional career, saying that, in Brazil, children were faced with the choice of soccer or academics at an early age — often as young as 13 or 14 years old. Carroll made the decision to focus on academics, but he plans on pursuing a professional athletic career after he receives his degree.
“Before I came here, a few agents approached me, trying to get me to go to their teams,” Carroll said. “A few [were] in Brazil, [and] also I have an Italian passport, so that makes it easier to transfer to European teams.”
But despite his personal success, Carroll is quick to praise his teammates, particularly the playmaking abilities of Miguel Yuste Perez ’20 and Nicky Downs ’19. He credits their ability to get the ball in the right position for a strike as a major contributor to his success.
Carroll’s style of play often draws comparisons to Brazilian soccer legend Ronaldo, but the striker compares his playstyle to that of another international soccer icon: Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The former Swedish international, currently of the Los Angeles Galaxy, is one of Carroll’s favorite players to watch and emulate on the pitch. Lazaros Efthymiou ’22 noted that Carroll’s playing style is distinctly Brazilian in nature, particularly noting Carroll’s touch, control and confidence.
“My awareness, having lived the game for so long — knowing where to be, knowing where to make runs — alongside my technique on the ball as a big guy helps me to hold it up against the other big guys,” Carroll said. “I think it’s one of the reasons [Coach Kylie Stannard] put me up top, because I can play also as a wing or as an attacking midfielder… I actually started the first two friendlies as a winger, and then he noticed I could be more efficient up top.”
Despite his immediate on-field success, Carroll’s transition has not been entirely smooth. Carroll noted that he still thinks in Portuguese, which has caused difficulties in on-field communications, as he has to continually translate his thoughts to his teammates.
While language has been a barrier at times, Carroll has socially integrated into the team, according to Efthymiou and Seidman who spoke about Carroll’s demeanor both in and out of the locker room.
“Paolo’s very social. He speaks with everybody — he’s involved in jokes on the team,” said Efthymiou. “He’s professional in terms of soccer, he’s gonna go to his ice bath and take his time, but he still interacts with everyone… He’s a very good teammate.”
Since arriving in New Haven, Carroll’s personal achievements have helped lift the men’s soccer team. Despite a close loss to Harvard this past weekend, where Carroll had a goal narrowly called back by an offside call, Carroll’s form bodes well for the team’s Ivy League campaign.
The Yale men’s soccer team takes on Dartmouth this Saturday at 4:30 p.m. in Hanover, N.H.
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Correction: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this article said Carroll’s style of play draws comparisons to Cristiano Ronaldo, when in fact Carroll’s style of play draws comparisons to Ronaldo, the Brazilian soccer legend.