Just because he didn’t play for his high school team didn’t mean that Henry Balf wasn’t getting noticed by Division 1 college soccer programs.
The standout from Beverly has flown under the radar locally, but has made his presence known with outstanding play against elite competition with the US Development Academy soccer program, which he’s done since his sophomore year. Now, The Waring School senior has committed to play at Boston College.
Balf had an outstanding showcase tournament in Florida recently and his performance attracted a lot of attention from the University of Michigan. He was also highly recruited by Holy Cross, Providence and Northeastern before deciding on The Heights.
“I wanted to play at the highest level I could, and the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) in particular is the tops collegiately in the country,” said Balf, a center midfielder. “The recruiting process happened rather late for me as far as the bigger schools were concerned, but I had a very good end of last season and strong beginning this year, which certainly helped.
“For me one of the big factors in the final decision was the fact that academically BC is a great school. Coming from a difficult academic school like Waring, it played a big role in my choice and as far as soccer goes I was looking for the challenge of playing in a very strong league (and) I also wanted to stay local, so it was a very good fit all around.”
Balf has been playing soccer since he was four or five, starting in Beverly Youth Soccer before moving to the North Shore United club program when he was eight.
“That was where my passion for the game was stoked by Stefano Franciosa (NSU founder and president) and coach Norman James. We were very successful and won four state cups,” said Balf.