EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 2, 2013

Mansour tried, tried, tried and then tried again

Pinkerton senior finally makes team in last attempt

High School Soccer
Christopher Smith

---- — Jimmy Mansour was cut from the Pinkerton boys soccer team as a freshman, sophomore and junior but guess who was at the first day of tryouts in August for his fourth and final attempt?

The fourth time was a charm, apparently.

“My mom always said I was stubborn,” Mansour said. “I’ll always strive to be better at anything I do in life.”

The senior is the Astros’ backup goalie. But he has reason to be as proud as an All-State player. He never accepted “no” for an answer.

“The first thing I did when I got home from tryouts was hug my mom, give her a kiss and tell her I made it,” Mansour said. “It was a great feeling.”

Mansour tried out as a field player each of his first three seasons.

“I was just determined because I wanted to be on the team,” Mansour said. “I love team sports. I just want to have fun and contribute any way I can. And I love to play.”

Mansour, who has been playing soccer since he was 4, worked out as a goalie throughout the summer.

“I’m a big kid — 6-3, 200 pounds — so goalie kind of just made sense,” he said.

“I just don’t think I was good enough as a (field) player. I have pretty good ball skills but I was just never really fast. I was a striker and then I did a complete 180 and changed to a goalie.”

Well, he didn’t go straight from striker to keeper. Mansour tried out as an attacker as a freshman and sophomore before switching to defender as a junior. But defense didn’t work out either.

Mansour — who played JV hockey and JV lacrosse his sophomore year — trained with teammate Cam Burke during the offseason.

Mansour and Burke, who transferred from Sanborn as a junior, had played indoor soccer together and that’s how they became friends.

“We’re wicked close friends now and he definitely helped me a lot,” Mansour said.

Pinkerton head coach Kerry Boles had never carried a backup goalie before this season.

“Historically speaking, there is never a need for a backup goalkeeper at the varsity level,” Boles noted. “If the need arises, we will utilize the starting JV keeper and the backup JV keeper becomes the JV starter.”

But Boles was impressed enough with Mansour to change his typical roster structure.

Boles informed Mansour that he might not receive any playing time but he expected the senior to never miss a practice and work as hard or harder than all his teammates.

“He was like, ‘I need someone who’s going to come in and get dirty every day,’” Mansour recalled.

Mansour promised Boles he would never complain about playing time. He hasn’t complained and Boles said Mansour always is the one with the dirtiest uniform at the end of the day.

“Anything I can do to help this team, I’ll do,” Mansour said. “I just want to win a championship.”

Mansour hasn’t played much but has played some. He thinks he has helped inspire his sister Kaleigh Mansour, a Pinkerton junior.

“My sister, she’s on the JV lacrosse team, and she wasn’t sure if she was going to try out for varsity because she wasn’t sure if she was going to make it,” Mansour said. “And me just being persistent, she’s like, ‘I’m going to do it now.’”

Mansour, with such good size, did consider going out for football.

“But I’d rather play soccer,” he said. “I knew I could play football. I probably wouldn’t play a lot but I knew could play. But soccer has been my life since I was a little kid.”

He hasn’t given up on the possibility of playing in college.

“I’m probably going to wind up going to a state school around here like UNH,” he said. “I might go to tryouts. Maybe I’ll try out again and see what happens. Maybe I’ll get cut another three years and then make it my senior year again.”

Wild game

The wildest game of the week was between Pinkerton and Manchester Central.

Manchester Central led 4-0 in the first half before Pinkerton put together a furious comeback.

“This team, I think it’s special,” Mansour said. “I think this team can win a championship. We can play with anybody. We scored a goal before halftime and I’m on the sideline going bonkers.

“I’m like, ‘We can still do this. We can still do this.’ And then within the last 10 minutes of that game we scored three goals and forced it into overtime. We did lose in overtime but Central is the back-to-back state champions. We definitely keep fighting. We will never give up.”

Valdes returns

North Andover senior forward Andrew Valdes returned to game action Saturday for the first time since suffering a knee injury in the opener against Lowell. Valdes scored two goals to lead 10-0 North Andover to a 5-1 victory over Central Catholic.

“I know Michael (Skarbelis) is getting a lot of attention because of the goals he’s scoring — Andrew is going to score some goals for us well,” North Andover coach Kyle Wood said.

Mr. Consistency

Andover coach Jim Saalfrank said senior Declan Collins has been vital while the Golden Warriors have been dealing with injuries.

“Mr. Consistency is in the midfield,” Saalfrank said about Collins, a three-year varsity player. “He just plays simple. He’s always looking to set up his teammates.”

Pelham’s Paradis

Pelham girls soccer (2-7) has struggled, but junior Brooke Paradis, who scored on a direct kick Friday, has been a rock on defense.

“As much as I’d like to have her up in the midfield or top, she is more valuable there,” coach Bob Keane said. “We let her go from the backfield all the way up.”

Keane has been impressed with his entire defense including Alexandria Papadimoulis and Allyson Masson.

Versatile Lopez

Pedro Lopez had quite the game for Greater Lawrence Friday, stopping 12 shots and adding an assist in a 3-1 win over North Shore.

Lopez typically plays in net during the first half and then moves to the field, but Reggies coach Richard Coakley kept him in net for the entire game Friday with the game tied 1-1 at the half.

The decision worked perfectly.

Sister, sister

Sisters Alexa and Danielle Cicolini of Methuen are enjoying their final year playing high school soccer together. Danielle is a sophomore and Alexa is a senior who hopes to play college soccer.

“We play on the same side so we work well together and make plays together,” Alexa said.

Danielle added: “It’s really fun playing with her because we both work together on the side and create opportunities with each other.”

Danielle said they are competitive at practice.

The younger Cicolini is motivated this year to play well because it’s her final year with Alexa.

“It’s really special to me to play with her,” Danielle said. “I know she wants to win so I do the best I can to help her. We just love soccer.”