High school soccer Christopher Smith
---- — 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.
“But her ability to see the field is really special,” Jennifer added. “Her dad was a quarterback and in many ways, she uses those skills to really help lead the team’s offense.”
Alana actually has helped her mother coach some U-12 soccer.
“I grew up in the North Andover Soccer Association so they made me the soccer player I am, so I like to give back to them,” Alana said.
Central girls’ defense had held opponents to just six goals in 13 games entering yesterday. During that stretch, the Raiders (11-0-2) posted eight shutouts.
“Steph May and I have been playing outside back since her freshman year, my sophomore year and I just think we really do a great job with our formation,” senior Maggie Carey said. “And we have Darion Summers and Erin Berube in the middle and they’ve stepped up huge this year. Erin came from JV and now is a varsity starter. And Darion is my co-captain and has done an amazing job as well.”
Karalis nets two
Great game for North Andover freshman Abbie Karalis Monday when she had two goals to lead North Andover over Cambridge Ringe & Latin on Monday.
Karalis is the sister of Zach Karalis, the reigning Eagle-Tribune basketball MVP and daughter of North Andover Hall of Famer Zagorski Karalis (NA Class of ‘78) who played basketball on scholarship at Division 1 UNH for a couple of years.
“Abbie is a very good player,” North Andover coach Bud McCarthy said. “She’s got decent speed, she attacks the goal very well and she has a quick release on her shooting. And that’s a key. She gets space and she puts the ball on net. And she’s also very good in the air.
“One of the goals that she scored (Monday) was beautiful,” McCarthy added. “It was a pass from Pam Coufos and Abbie was on the far post and it was a beautiful header. She is playing up top for us but she also has played midfield for us as well. And I know she can play as a defender. But we need her up top.”
Big Game Alert!
Brooks boys (7-2-1) plays at Lawrence Academy (6-1-3) today at 3 p.m. Another interesting match today is Phillips (7-1-2) hosting powerful Cushing Academy (8-1-1) at 3:30 p.m.
Boys Fab 5
1. Londonderry 14-2
2. Phillips 7-1-2
3. North Andover 12-1-2
4. Pentucket 11-2-2
5. Brooks 7-2-1
Honorable mention: Pinkerton, 11-5, Windham 13-3, Timberlane 8-5-3, Pinkerton 8-4
Girls Fab 5
1. Central 11-0-2
2. Brooks 10-1-1
3. Londonderry 14-2
4. North Andover 11-4-1
5. Andover 8-4-3
Honorable mention: Pinkerton 10-4-1, Haverhill 6-4-5