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Soccer: Shah selected girls All-County Player of Year
Rachel Shah. - photo by For the Forsyth County News

Rachel Shah is never satisfied with her own success.

As a freshman at South Forsyth in 2011, Shah scored a single-season program record 24 goals for the Lady War Eagles soccer team.

Last season she one-upped herself, breaking the mark again with 25 goals while adding 11 assists. The team’s next closest scorer had just six goals.

Shah’s production hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Forsyth County girls soccer coaches, who named her County Player of the Year for 2012.

Now the 16-year-old attacking center midfielder has a new goal for her junior season — to score 30 goals.

"I always go into a game wanting to score one goal," Shah said. "But, I’m thinking in the back of my mind after I score to add another and another."

South head coach Tom Braun thinks Shah is capable of scoring 30 goals if everything breaks the right way.

"She’s a great athlete who works extremely hard," Braun said. "Her footwork is really great and her instincts are very good. I’d say it’s very realistic that she could score that many."

Shah said the goals she scores come only through hours of hard work.

She trains twice a day, working on speed and strength drills to get an edge on defenders. That comes on top of the time she spends studying to maintain her 4.07 grade point average in a schedule of all honors and advanced placement classes.

Even vacations haven’t been true vacations for her, at least not from soccer.

When her family traveled to France and Spain on vacation years ago, Shah said she would always find "a patch of grass" to practice soccer.

Shah started playing soccer at age four and knew early on that it was her sport.

When she was in seventh grade, she received an invitation from her trainer, Gaucho Pinho, to travel to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to participate in a soccer camp.

Shah knew up front that this camp would provide a challenge different front any other she had ever attended. She would be the lone girl on the camp team.

After talking with her parents, Shah said her father, Gregory Shah, was more excited than she was.

"My dad was like, ‘Heck yes, let’s go.’" Shah said.

"It’s different playing against boys because they’re stronger and faster, so I had to prove I could hang with them. After a few minutes, it got a lot easier because I got in the flow of the game."

Shah said each time she attends a camp or receives training, she notices a better result on the field.

The pursuit to improve continuously drives her and sometimes forces difficult decisions.

Even though she made the All-County cross country first team as a freshman, she chose not to compete in the sport last fall to focus on soccer.

With teams like Auburn, Georgia, Virginia and Wake Forest interested in her playing soccer, she felt she couldn’t spend time training for another sport.

"It really was hard for me to quit the team," Shah said.

"The great thing about it was that it had a family aspect and I gained endurance for soccer. My mom even ran cross-country when she was in school.

"But, soccer had to come first."