Peabody Tanners Girls Soccer '07

Kristen Olson, Staff Photographer

Peabody sisters are a talented duo on the soccer pitch

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Tuesday, October, 09 By Bill Kipouras
Staff writer

They're typical sisters, these highly-skilled Manoogian kids on Peabody High's undefeated girls soccer team.

"We have our stupid little fights," Alyssa Manoogian said. "Like when one of us is wearing the other's shirt, stuff like that. Clothes are usually the issue."

They're also admittedly sloppy. "I'm probably more messier," Alyssa, a junior and the older of the two girls, admitted. "But Emily is messy, too."

Emily Manoogian, a gifted freshman forward, may be the younger of the two, but you can't call her a "little" sister. At 5-foot-6, she's three inches taller than Alyssa, who is an attacking midfielder for the Tanners.

On the field, Alyssa is like a turbine engine; power personified. Emily is the epitome of finesse, the eyes-in-the-back-of-her-head type. She sees the whole field incredibly well.

Together, they have helped the Peabody girls roar out of the gates this season with a perfect 9-0-0 mark. Thus far, the Tanners have scored 45 goals in those games for an average of five scores per contest.

It's the first time the Manoogians have been teammates at an organized level.

Lori Escolas, the Peabody head coach, doesn't think it's fair to compare the sisters since they play different positions.

"They have different jobs to do and are awesome doing them," Escolas said. "They are important impact players who have great futures in the game. Any coach would love having them. "Both of them have gained a lot of experience outside of high school (on club teams like The Force and The Stars of Massachusetts). I've had sisters before, but never like this pair. I think they'll realize whatever they wish to happen in the future."

Marblehead head coach Sammy Yawson was talking with a reporter at this past summer's Agganis All-Star Soccer Classic when it was mentioned that Peabody would be without its top scorer, Justine Hartigan, when it entered the NEC this fall.

"Yeah, but they still have (Alyssa) Manoogian and wait until you see her sister Emily, who will be a freshman," Yawson cautioned. "They also have Erika Digiacomo and Caitlin Pinkham, who can both score. They've got players all over the field, from the goal out."

Beverly High head coach Kristin Macdonald, whose team fell to the Tanners, 4-0, earlier this season, echoed similar sentiments about the Manoogians.

"They're very good players, very polished," said Macdonald. "They're huge. They play at the next level."

The sisters enjoy scary movies and love music; Emily is big on country and Carrie Underwood. Both of them are honor students at Peabody High as well.

Alyssa's brains and athletic skills have attracted many recruiters. She hears most often from Boston University, Villanova, the University of South Carolina, Rutgers, Penn State, Georgetown and Notre Dame. She has an interest in journalism and knows that BU has one of the nation's best J-schools. She'd also like to coach some day.

Alyssa, who was in the national soccer pool two years ago, will tell you she couldn't wait for Emily to reach the high school and become a teammate. Ditto for Emily.

"She's modest and humble," Alyssa said of her younger sister. "A lot of kids are like that because they're freshmen, but you'll see Emily as the same person when she's a senior. She's not the type to brag or talk about herself."

Occasionally Alyssa hears that Emily will surpass her sister's skills in the near future. "I''ll be the first to say that it wouldn't surprise me one bit," Alyssa said. "She's already as good as I was at age 14. I don't want to play against her when she's 18. She's blowing people away. On the field we're on the same page. As sisters we can connect."

Alyssa said she truly expected Emily to have a marvelous freshman year | she just didn't know how good she'd be. "I knew she'd be a standout, just from watching her play all these years," said Alyssa. "A lot of her game is making passes you don't expect to get there, but Emily finds a way."

What sets Emily apart is her vision, Jason Dewhurst said. The Preston, England native and former Beverly resident coaches both sisters on his Stars of Massachusetts teams. "Technically, Emily is very good. For me, her vision of the field is probably one of the best I've dealt with in 10 years of club coaching," said Dewhurst. "She helped take us to the Final Four U-14 nationals this year in Frisco, Texas. "If Emily keeps her focus and determination she'll be able to reach any goal she sets, I believe. Same with Alyssa. Their work ethic is tremendous. The thing for me about them is their extreme dedication and willingness to learn.

They're like sponges, the way they absorb everything." Dewhurst added that Alyssa Manoogian is very determined, knowing full well what she wants on the field.

"At times I feel she's a little too hard on herself when things aren't going right, then she'll turn it around psychologically," he said. "She's a terrific player and technically very strong, too. She's also quite a leader. There's a reason all those colleges are so keen about her."

Mike Manoogian, the father, said the two girls have been fortunate to have had such great coaching from the time they were kids from people like Charlie Anastos (Alyssa) and Steve Rizzo (Emily). Dewhurst feels the support of the parents (Mike and Lori) has been a major factor in the girls' success, too.

"But at the end of the day it comes down to the two girls. They work their tails off," Dewhurst said.

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