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October 24, 2012

Houlihan better than mom -- thanks to mom

Development provides a boost for North Andover

North Andover Hight senior Alana Houlihan has heard stories of her mother Jennifer Houlihan’s days playing rugby at Dartmouth College.

“She, like, broke her nose and bled all over her T-shirt but she kept on playing,” is one story Alana recalled hearing several times.

Alana admits to enjoying hearing those stories but soccer — not rugby — is the sport Alana and Jennifer both love the most and share the most stories about together.

Jennifer played soccer at Phillips Academy. But she then switched to rugby at Dartmouth because she didn’t have strong enough foot skills to play soccer for the Big Green.

Not only did Alana head into yesterday’s game against Central Catholic as the leading scorer for the Scarlet Knights with seven goals and six assists, but she also is set to play soccer next year at Saint Michael’s.

“She’s always been my coach in this town,” Alana said about her mom. “I played for a club team, too, and that coach has been a great help with me throughout my life, but my mom was my coach ever since I started playing.”

This mother/daughter duo have shared several special soccer moments, including when Jennifer watched Alana play for the Massachusetts Olympic Development Program in Portugal in 2009.

“To see your child enter a stadium through the tunnel in an international match is amazing. (Hard to compare them but beating Andover last year was even better!)” Jennifer wrote in an email after being interviewed.

Jennifer was referring to North Andover’s 1-0 win over then-undefeated and top-seeded Andover in the 2011 Division 1 North playoffs.

Jennifer said that Alana has incredible field vision, distributes the ball well and is noticed for her strong shot from 25 feet as well as her direct kicks and corner kicks.

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