High School Soccer
---- — Entering high school, Mike Skarbelis didn’t think he’d become a prolific goal scorer.
“Because I used to play defense, especially for my club team,” he said. “And then I transitioned to striker. So I wasn’t expecting to score even remotely close to what I did. I was just hoping to get at least a few in.”
Fifty-eight isn’t a few.
With the 58th goal of his varsity career Thursday, Skarbelis passed Jon Wentworth (Class of 2004) for the most career goals in North Andover boys program history.
“There’s been a lot of great players so it means a lot,” Skarbelis said. “It’s nice that I’m on top with all of them and that I can compete with some of the best players that went through the high school.”
Skarbelis has 29 goals this season alone. He and the Scarlet Knights still have three regular games remaining, including a 7:30 p.m. contest at Central Catholic today.
Skarbelis has been motivated throughout his soccer career by brother Chris Skarbelis who he said was the leading goal scorer at Leonardtown High School in Maryland.
The Skarbelis family moved from Maryland to North Andover when Mike was in seventh grade.
“My whole high school career, I wouldn’t change it for anything,” Skarbelis said. “Playing for Bill Tarbox (originally), he’s a great man. He helped me become a better player. ... And then Mr. (Kyle) Wood coming in (this year) as a new coach and not really knowing some of us. I played JV my freshman year so I never had him because he was a freshman coach before. I didn’t really know him much. The fact he was able to come in and do great work, and get to know everyone and do what he’s done (is tremendous).”
Behind Skarbelis and its first-year varsity coach, North Andover is 15-0.
“Obviously everyone wants to become state champs,” Skarbelis said about the goal for this year’s team. “But it’s more of not letting us beat ... ourselves, especially in the playoffs. Because especially playing the last few years in the playoffs, I’ve seen teams we probably may not have beaten but mental mistakes (hurt). It’s more of staying calm and not being our own worst enemy.”
Skarbelis learned a great deal from Evan Dudney, who graduated last year and scored 52 career goals.
“Playing with him my sophomore and junior year, he taught me a lot — more of like how to deal with every situation,” Skarbelis said.
Skareblis plans to play college soccer. He has looked at UMass Lowell and Merrimack. He wants to study accounting and minor in criminal justice with the goal of eventually becoming a police officer.
Jackson’s senior surge
Timberlane’s Emily Jackson is having a strong year with 10 goals, six more than she had last year.
“Sophomore and junior year when I was on varsity, I played outside-mid,” she said. “So I didn’t get any many (goals). I was more of an assister.”
Jackson — who has never played any sport but soccer — was a forward her freshman year on JV.
“I was actually more used to midfield (growing up),” she said. “So learning to play forward was kind of a harder transition for me. When I first started, I would always find myself on the outside of the field because I kind of just migrated over there. As I got more used to it, I kind of got the hang of it and started playing a little better up there.”
Jackson admitted she never has been much of a goal scorer.
“So I was really actually surprised that I started scoring,” Jackson said.
Jackson is not going to play college soccer. She has looked at Merrimack, Southern New Hampshire University and Northern Essex.
“I kind of just want to go to college and do my own thing,” she said. “I don’t really want to do sports anymore.”
Andover a point away
Midfielder Declan Collins and Andover boys soccer are one point away from earning a berth in the state tournament. They have a game today at home against Lowell at 7 p.m.
After that, the Golden Warriors have two regular season contests remaining — one at Central Catholic and one at Westford Academy.
“And the past two years I’ve been on varsity, we’ve missed out by, I think, two points and then there was like a secretarial error that messed up our schedule and our results so we missed out on the tournament,” Collins said. “So everyone is excited because we’re getting really close.
“I think in terms of team unity, it’s probably the best it’s felt in the three years I’ve been on varsity,” he added.
Andover players together attended a New England Revolution game over the weekend.
Andover’s Declan Collins comes from a family that loves soccer, although there is a bit of a rivalry.
Collins’ grandfather is a big Manchester United fan while Declan and his dad root for Liverpool.
“It gets a little tough because they’re bitter rivals,” Declan said. “(Liverpool) has had their struggles recently. So we have to hear from my grandfather for that.”
Windham is balanced
Undefeated Windham girls soccer does have a balanced offense despite Hannah Pesci’s 28 goals.
Haley Psareas has 10 assists but nobody else on the team has double digit assists. So the assists are spread out and obviously everyone is doing a great job getting the ball to Pesci, who is having a remarkable season.
BOYS FAB FIVE
1. North Andover 15-0
2. Phillips 8-0-3
3. Windham 14-1
4. Georgetown 7-2-7
5. Pentucket 7-3-2
Honorable mention: Pinkerton 10-4, Andover 7-5-3, Salem 8-6
GIRLS FAB FIVE
1. Central Catholic 14-0
2. Windham 14-0-1
3. Haverhill 9-1-4
4. Pinkerton 11-2-1
5. Brooks 7-2-2
Honorable mention: Andover 8-3-3