Jim Foley has seen a number of sisters come through the program in his 24 years as girls’ soccer coach at St. Mary’s of Lynn.
Still, it’s rare that he has had two sets of sisters on the varsity at the same time — and even rarer that all four of those siblings are in his starting lineup, all impact players.
Twins Brooke and Bre Moloney and sisters Sophie and Issie Skabeikis are balancing a healthy dose of sibling rivalry with a team-centered desire to win, and St. Mary’s (4-2) is reaping the benefits.
“All four of them are leaders on and off the field,” Foley said. “Even though they’re freshmen and sophomores, they’re all someone that all the kids look up to, and they work as hard as they can on and off the field.”
Sophie Skabeikis, a freshman forward, has a team-high eight goals with two assists. Issie, a sophomore midfielder, has three goals and two assists.
The goals that are most important, however, are what Sophie called “sister goals,” in which one sister sets up the other to score.
In Monday’s 6-0 Catholic Central victory vs. Arlington Catholic, Issie Skabeikis dribbled through the midfield, and after beating two defenders, she had a clear shot at the goal. She thought about taking the shot herself, but from her right side, she heard Sophie call for a pass, and she sent the ball out to the wing. When Sophie found the back of the net, Issie was the first to run and hug her.
Next to join the celebration were the Sisters Moloney.
“They have the same connection that we have, and all four of us work so well together,” Sophie Skabeikis said. “We’re always there for each other after a loss or a win. We’re always there to hype each other up, and be there for each other. It’s good to have connections on the team — really special connections that go further than soccer.”
The four have been playing together at St. Mary’s since Brooke, Bre, and Issie were in eighth grade and Sophie was in seventh. They grew closer this summer, training together constantly and hanging out on their off days.
While the Skabeikis sisters are engaged in a friendly competition on the field, the Moloney twins never bet on who’s going to score more. Part of the reason for that is that Brooke is a forward while Bre plays defense, but it’s mostly because it doesn’t matter to them who scores as long as their team keeps winning.
“They don’t really care about stats,” Foley said. “They don’t care. They want to win.”
Brooke has six goals and five assists thus far. Bre, meanwhile, anchors the Spartans’ back line alongside fellow sophomore Riley Maguire.
But Brooke has had to readjust playing alongside her sister this year. An ankle injury sidelined Bre the entire 2021 season, leaving her to cheer on her sister from a distance.
Unable to take the field with her teammates, Bre Moloney adopted a quasi-coaching role. She directed her teammates from the sidelines, helping wherever she could while rehabbing her injury. Still, not being able to play took a toll on her.
“It’s hard seeing your twin sister playing and being so successful, and all you want to do is be out there and play with her,” Bre Moloney said. “But she always told me to keep my head up, and she just made me want to play more. She always keeps pushing me forward.”
▪ After a stellar season in which Plymouth North advanced to the Division 2 semifinals, a rebuild was not the mind-set. The graduation of standouts Meg Banzi (UMass Lowell), Kylee Carafoli (University of Vermont), and Carly Scholfield (Central Connecticut State) has created openings for those who were role players a year ago.
The 11th-ranked Eagles (3-2) already boast a key Patriot League Keenan Division win over No. 13 Silver Lake and remain ready to tackle the rest of a daunting league schedule that features division games against three other teams ranked in the Globe Top 20.
“It’s certainly a challenge,” said Plymouth North coach Eric Foley. “You’ve got to get up for every game and the days that you don’t get up are the days where someone is going to beat you. That’s the fun part of coaching in the Patriot League but what also makes it challenging.”
At center back, senior Juliana Andrews and junior Mackenzie Hohulin anchor the back in front of sophomore keeper Amelia Finley, who has exceeded expectations in her first season as a starter.
Senior captain Brooke Finlay has stepped up from part-time starter to being the focal point offensively. At center midfield, senior captain Bella Rochelle and senior Emily O’Connell form a potent duo down the spine of the pitch. Rochelle moved up from starting on defense and O’Connell joined the starting lineup this season.
“Bella in a new role has really embraced it and played well,” said Foley. “Emily and Brooke, as leaders and starters, have blossomed into those new roles.”
Games to watch
Thursday, No. 13 Needham at No. 7 Brookline, 4 p.m. –– The perennial Bay State Conference powers meet for the first time this season.
Saturday, No. 12 Notre Dame Academy (Hingham) at No. 4 Hingham, 11 a.m. –– Crosstown, nonleague foes collide as Sydney Comeau and the high-flying Cougars offense battle Sophie Reale and a Harborwomen team brimming with talent.
Saturday, No. 6 Winchester at No. 3 Natick, 3 p.m. –– The undefeated Red & Black have surrendered one goal, bringing stout defense into a nonleague matchup against unbeaten Redhawks, who have not conceded a tally through five games.
Tuesday, No. 16 Duxbury at No. 11 Plymouth North, 4 p.m. –– In the loaded Patriot League Keenan Division, the Dragons and the Eagles jockey for early season positioning.
Globe correspondent Cam Kerry contributed to this report.