SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports

August 2, 2013

Stars of Massachusetts enjoy national exposure at ECNL finals

(Continued)

Besides Poulin, O’Connor and Drohosky, area players on the Stars U14 club include Kaitlin Donovan of Boxford, Mia Karras of Middleton, Samantha Neyman of North Andover and Jennifer Herrera of Lynn. There are 18 players on the team, coached by Tom Phillips.

Training with the Stars is a big commitment for players that live on the North Shore. The vast majority feel the travel time is worth it because of what they learn.

“The speed is quicker, the level of skill is higher and the passion for the game is stronger,” said O’Connor, who has been with the Stars for 21/2 years. “I feel like I’ve learned more these past couple years than since I started playing.”

One of the differences at ECNL (Elite Clubs National League) Nationals was the tactics of the game. It wasn’t simply going out and playing; the game plans could be tailored to the specific opponent. That sort of tactical play adds another layer to the game as the girls get older.

“It felt very official and that was different for us,” said Poulin, who has been with the Stars for three years. “I’m used to going in and kind of adapting on the fly and we had a lot of information about the other team’s styles and strengths. It was an advantage but it was also foreign for us.”

The U14’s were the only Stars club to compete at nationals, with the older age groups finishing ninth at the other tournament in Colorado. The support from their older teammates was overwhelming, “Lots of Tweets and e-mails and good luck messages. It felt really cool,” said Poulin.

The girls would have liked to win a national title, but playing four games and finishing fourth was an accomplishment they’re quite proud of.

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