Alessandro Franciosa, a sophomore at Masconomet Regional, was named United Premier Soccer League Player of the Week on November 20.
The Mass United center midfielder is only 15 years old, but playing up at the elite level and attracting attention for his skills.
Voting for the award was online and Franciosa received 60 percent on the Twitter Poll. Candidates for the honor are chosen by league officials and reporters covering the games. He had an outstanding week 13 of the fall season with a 95 percent passing accuracy in the win over Philadelphia Lone Star FC for the Northeast Conference Empire Division 1 championship game back on November 17.
Franciosa played over 90 minutes in Mass United FC’s 3-2 victory. It was the second title for the undefeated United Club (7-0-3) in the past three years.
Franciosa is the youngest player on his team by far but still earned a starting job. He has drawn attention from both professional teams in this country and abroad. His father, Stefano, has played the game at a high level and coached elite players for many years. Before young Alessandro could walk he held him up so he could kick a soccer ball.
“It’s a nice honor and makes me feel good to win it,” said Alessandro, who plays year round. “Soccer has always been a big part of my life, but I do like to snowboard for fun when I have time.”
Alessandro played for United for several years and then Seacoast Academy before being selected for the Men’s League.
“This is my third year playing for Seacoast,” he said. “I’ve been a center midfielder most of my life, and I love playing there. After the fall season ends I practice indoors in the winter, and then come back in the spring. Summer is for a very long preseason to work on improving my skills so the next year I will be better technically, have greater field vision and be able to distribute the ball better.
“It’s still a little early to think about college recruiting, but I definitely want to play Division 1. I don’t care where, I’ll go any place in the country as long as the school is strong academically.”
Franciosa does not play for the Chieftains because the league does not allow public high school students to compete, only private school student-athletes can do both. The UPSL began eight years ago and now has over 300 teams across the country. It is the fastest growing pro development league in the county.
“The owner of the men’s team told me I was in the running for Player of the Game after we won (3-2), and about an hour later I found out I was one of the ones that could be named Player of the Week for the whole league,” said Franciosa. “I viewed the poll to see how I was doing because there were three players.
“The other two were from California and Florida; both had hat tricks while my nomination was for passing accuracy. My phone was blowing up along with Snap Chat and texts. It’s nice to get that kind of recognition.”
Being the youngest one, not only on his team but in the league, is something Franciosa has had no trouble handling.
“I’m the youngest by a long shot,” he said. “My main focus is how I can help my team so I think about winning the game and try to pass accurately. I love center mid because you’re in the middle of everything and the playmaker on the field. I started playing for the men’s team last spring and I also coach young kids learning the game at clinics town clinics the coach has. I’ve done it up to the eight-year-olds and I absolutely love it.”
Franciosa intends to major in business and will definitely play soccer in college. He is also thinking about playing in Italy.
“I’ve been to several tryouts there, and did well,” he said. “Last January I trained with two prestigious youth academies in Italy, but right now I’m too young to move overseas. The game there is a lot more technical and physical. It’s very competitive and I really enjoyed my time there.”
Emily Hardy of Boxford, a Phillips Andover and NEFC soccer goalie, has just been named All-American. She had an outstanding summer playing for Dushawne “Doc” Simpson and his team that went all the way to winning the National Championship in Colorado last July. Hardy came up big with two terrific saves on PKs and recorded three shutouts during the tournament. This fall she ended a stellar career for the Big Blue.
“I got a call last week from my high school coach Lisa Joel and she told me I had been named an All-American,” said Hardy, who has committed to play at Dartmouth.
Simpson said Hardy was voted All-American by prep school coaches from across New England, an award that is given bi-annually.
“To be eligible for All-America or All-Region consideration players first much be selected by their respective state through a recognized coaches’ selection program,” said Simpson.
After winning the National Championship last summer Simpson said he always knew his team had a chance to do it with Hardy minding the net.
Jean DePlacido is a long time correspondent and columnist for The Salem News. She can be reached at email@example.com