EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 8, 2013

Hillies rallying around two injured teammates

High school soccer
Christopher Smith

---- — They day-after celebration at practice was grand. It included cupcakes, pizza and slush.

It was a worthy meal and dessert for a Haverhill girls team that had knocked off MVC foe Andover for the first time since the two schools began their rivalry in 1994.

The Hillies won 3-1 over the Golden Warriors last Tuesday to improve to 5-1-4. They are on a mission this year, rallying for sisters Bianca and Basema Hussein, both very talented soccer players who are sidelined with ACL injuries. Bianca was scheduled for ACL surgery yesterday.

“And her sister just had hers done,” Haverhill quad captain Kelleigh Cokely said. “They come to every single practice and game. They are kind of like two other coaches. They will give everyone hints of what they can do better. We all go out there and play for them.”

The Hillies’ talent certainly was on display in their victory over Andover.

“I think (the win) says a lot because a lot of teams like Andover, Central, North Andover have overlooked us in the past,” Cokely said. “The past few years we’ve had like 1-0 losses or 5-0 losses. So a lot of those teams look at us like we’re an easy win.

“I think beating Andover has proved we have grown as a team and as a program and we’re capable of being able to match up with (these teams) and they need to start taking us seriously.”

Haverhill’s coaching staff has a nice addition this year. Head coach Fred Tarbox has a quite an experienced first-year assistant, his dad Bill Tarbox, who was a high school varsity boys head coach for 40 years (22 years in North Andover), posting 422 victories. He just retired from North Andover last year.

“He’s been a really big help,” Cokely said about Bill Tarbox. “He helps to run all of our practices and do the drills that we need. ... This year we have a lot more skill drills that we’ve been doing. So I think that’s helped us with our game.”

The Hillies have received terrific goaltending from Marlayna Buco, a junior who is in her second year starting on varsity. Buco made 16 saves in the victory over Andover.

“We all trust her back there,” Cokely said. “She can distribute the ball really well.”

Looking at colleges

Haverhill senior Kelleigh Cokely is quite a strong student who might play college soccer. Her class rank fluctuates.

“I go between ninth and seventh,” she said. “The difference is between like .01.”

Cokely — who plans to study either biomedical engineering or international business — has spoken with the Dartmouth College coach.

“And I’m looking BC and Notre Dame, and I would play club soccer there (at either of those schools),” she said.

Methuen gets on the board

Methuen boys soccer has struggled this season, but the Rangers earned their first victory Thursday, 2-1,over Lawrence. The two players who provided a large majority of the offense last year for Methuen were the ones who accounted for all the scoring in this win.

Salah Baladi (area-high 28 goals last year) and Justin Echeverry each scored a goal and added an assist.

How about Pesci?

Windham girls coach Matt Bryant has his players set personal and team goals before each year.

Sophomore forward Hannah Pesci’s personal goal this year was straight forward.

“Her personal goal was to score 12 goals,” Bryant said. “Her logic was that she wanted to score more than last year.”

Pesci — who had 11 goals last fall — already has 18 goals this year.

“I didn’t expect it at all,” Pesci said. “My team has really helped me a lot with getting the ball up to me.”

Pesci is motivated to win a championship. She thinks that’s a realistic team goal. And why not? The Jaguars are unbeaten.

Pesci’s brother Andrew Pesci was the goalie on last year’s Windham boys state championship team. This year, he is playing for Southern New Hampshire University, although he recently injured his knee.

The two siblings played a great deal of soccer together growing up.

“It was corresponding thing,” Hannah said. “He’d play goalie and I’d shoot on him — that kind of deal. And I just feel like I need to keep the Pesci tradition going, I guess (said laughing). I want to make it into college for soccer as well.”

Bryant added about Pesci: “She’s one of our few year-round players. So she’s been playing club soccer, a pretty high level, really all along. So I think it was only a matter of time before that progression really started to translate into a ton of goals. And she ran track last year, which I think helped her speed. She’s pretty much done everything she needed to do to become a more dangerous player.”

Windham is 10-0.

“My forwards sort of get frustrated at times because I have three forwards who I rotate because we have a two-forward formation and I have three who are really talented,” Bryant said. “So only two of them start in any given game. That gets a little frustrating at times but they’ve all been very supportive of each other. And if you look at the statistics and assists Hannah’s gotten on her goals, a ton of them come from the other forwards. So any combination I’ve put out there has worked really well, which is really nice to see.”

Girls Player of the Week

Hannah Pesci scored a remarkable four goals in Windham’s 8-0 victory over Pelham on Saturday.

Pesci has 18 goals on the season, seven more than she had all of last year. She has helped the Jaguars to a 10-0 start.

“I think she’s even a little surprised at how well she’s done so far,” Windham coach Matt Bryant said.


Mike Skarbelis is having a monster year for North Andover boys soccer. With his three goals last Tuesday in a 6-0 victory over Methuen, Skarbelis has 21 goals in 11 games and has led the Scarlet Knights to an 11-0 start.

His 21 goals is one more than he had all of last year.

“He puts a lot of pressure on himself to play well,” Knights coach Kyle Wood told The Eagle-Tribune earlier this season. “He has all the attributes to be a true champion.”

Skarbelis’ only game without a goal was against Chelmsford. Since then, he has scored seven goals in three games.


1. North Andover 11-0

2. Windham 9-1

3. Georgetown 6-1-3

4. Pinkerton 7-3

5. Pentucket 7-2-1

Honorable mention: Andover 6-3-2, Salem 6-4


1. Central Catholic 10-0

2. Windham 10-0

3. Pinkerton 9-1

4. Brooks 5-1-1

5. Haverhill 5-1-4

Honorable mention: Andover 7-2-1