Governor’s soccer star leaps to ACC
While Siobhan McDonough starred on the soccer pitch for Governor’s Academy, she would often travel to Newton with her high school teammates to cheer on Boston College as the Eagles women’s soccer team easily dispensed of its opponents.
The Andover native was awed by the talent in the ultra-competitive Atlantic Coast Conference, which sent nine teams to the NCAA championship tournament last season, including North Carolina, which won its 21st national title.
So when it came time to pick colleges, she knew all about playing in the ACC. A visit to the University of Miami left her uncertain.
“I told my dad I didn’t know if I wanted to be in the ACC. The level of intensity, I wasn’t sure,” McDonough said. “[BC] was just so good. It seemed like they always won. I never thought I’d be in the league.”
But what was once a dream is now a reality for McDonough, who is gearing up for her freshman campaign at the University of Pittsburgh, which split from the Big East conference and will officially join the ACC July 1.
As part of a massive, 12-person recruiting class, the 5-foot-5 midfielder/forward will have a legitimate opportunity to challenge for a spot in the starting lineup.
“I was a little apprehensive about the level of soccer, but after a few scrimmages, I’m excited to be here,” McDonough said.
McDonough, who graduated from Governor’s Academy May 26, will have a busy summer. After just three weeks off, which was spent mostly training and relaxing with friends, the 17-year-old departed for campus June 19.
Her two summer classes, which will help reduce her course load from five to four classes when the season begins in the fall, started Monday. McDonough also participates in strength and conditioning workouts at 6 a.m. Five nights a week, she scrimmages with her teammates.
By Aug. 6, the start of the preseason, McDonough believes she’ll be acclimated to the talent level.
“The older girls are definitely much stronger and physical,” McDonough said. “If I’m not directly receiving a ball and it goes to a defender, it’s hard to get the ball back and the speed of play is quicker.
“But I just have to get used to it. It’s survival of the fittest — you have no choice.”
While McDonough was apprehensive about competing in the ACC, she also had qualms about moving to a big city. After attending Governor’s in Byfield, with just over 400 students, she admitted to being intimidated by Pittsburgh’s urban campus, which has about 16,000 undergraduate students.
But after a third and final visit in October, McDonough made up her mind.
“I knew this was the place I wanted to be,” she said.
McDonough joined the New England Football Club team as a junior, a move she credited with increasing her exposure to Division 1 programs like Pittsburgh, Harvard, and the University of Miami.
She thrived in her senior season at Governor’s, scoring 11 goals and seven assists to help her team to its second consecutive Class B NEPSAC championship, while earning the ISL offensive MVP and All-American honors.
Pittsburgh coach Greg Miller , in his second year as head coach, said he believes McDonough, who also starred in track and ice hockey, can make an immediate impact for the Panthers.
“She’s very, very athletic and a very gifted athlete,” Miller said. “But what attracted me personally was she’s a hard worker. She gets that hard work and grittiness from her days as a hockey player.”
“She has a game-changing ability in terms of athletic play,” he added.
Miller, who spent 11 years as an assistant at Ohio State, said he plans to utilize McDonough’s speed.
“From a soccer standpoint, she continues to grow as an attacking player and can be a significant factor.”
When Miller took over the program at Pittsburgh, he did so anticipating the switch to the ACC.
Miller, who helped the Panthers improve to a 7-10-2 record after they won just two games the season before, brought in a large recruiting class with the hopes of laying the foundation for a competitive program in the ACC.
“The thought with this particular group was to get a better athlete and soccer player to grow the program,” Miller said. “They’ll be young, and the transition will be challenging and by the time they’re juniors and seniors they’ll be our core group.
“In some capacity, these freshmen are going to have to play and some are naturally going to have to start. It’s going to be on them how big their role is and how they can contribute.”
McDonough returned home Wednesday night so she can participate in a regional tournament with her under-18 club team this weekend.
But she said the games will likely be her last, and then she will return her full focus to her freshman season.
“I definitely want to win a starting position by the end of the season,” she said. “But more than start, I want to be a dominant player every game I play.”
Carpenter, Duggan make Olympic team
Just like her father, 18-year NHL veteran Bobby Carpenter, North Reading native Alex Carpenter established herself as one of the best hockey players to ever come through the state. At Governor’s Academy, she scored 239 goals and 188 assists in just 100 games.
Carpenter’s success continued at Boston College, where as a sophomore last season, her 32 goals and 38 assists gave her the most points in Hockey East.
This winter, Carpenter will have the opportunity to dominate the international ranks as part of the US Women’s national team in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. The junior forward was named to the 25-athlete roster on Monday, and in December she will compete for one of the final 21 spots.
Carpenter, who ranked seventh overall in the nation with 1.89 points per game, was a top-10 Patty Kazmaier Award finalist, which is given to the best female hockey player in the country.
Danvers native and University of Wisconsin graduate Meghan Duggan was also named to the team.
Duggan, who was a senior in 2011, captured the Kazmaier award and finished her career with 238 points (108 goals, 130 assists).
Duggan, who attended Cushing Academy, is Wisconsin’s all-time leader in points and plus/minus (+164).
4-mile race to benefit Lynn English
The Wicked Running Club of Salem is hosting the third annual Miles Over the Moon 4- mile road race on July 12, at 8 p.m.
Each year, a portion of the proceeds has helped fund local track programs, and this year’s beneficiary will be Lynn English.
Anthony Gulizia can be reached at gulizia.ant@