Latest News

Who knew soccer was home to such sisterhood?

The group of eight squealed and began chattering like a bunch of teenage girls when they heard the question posed to the set of twins at Manchester Meadows Soccer Complex on Friday afternoon.

The question, asked because Nation Ford sophomores Ellen and Katie Bright moved here from Florida, was simple ... at it least started that way.

"So which college do you pull for, Florida or Florida State?'' they were asked. They blurted out 'Miami' in unison like it was shot out of their mouths. It caused the other girls to laugh and offer comments.

"You see, that's the way twins are,'' one said. "They think alike, dress alike and know what the other one's thinking. That's how twins are.''

"Not quite true,'' Katie said. "We only answer at the same time when it's obvious. That question is one we get asked a lot, so the answer is always going to be the same, usually at the same time when we're together.''

So it happens a lot, because Ellen and Katie are as much alike as they look. They've grown up playing soccer on the same teams. They argue at times, but it never becomes a major disagreement.

Being twins is unique, as is both playing team sports and having the same abilities. But having sisters not of the twin variety is common in soccer.

Clover, Fort Mill, Northwestern and Nation Ford are the four teams that qualified from Region 3-AAAA for the Class AAAA Upper State playoffs, which start today.

Combined, the teams have what could be described as a sisterhood of soccer. Clover has two sets of sisters, Jordan and Kylie Allen, and Alisa and Samantha Pantuosco. Northwestern has Natalie and Stephanie Mansueti. Fort Mill has Jessica and Becca Tooley, who are the last of four Tooley sisters who have played sports for the Lady Yellow Jackets.

"Becca is like our dad,'' said Jessica, a sophomore. "She's Little Miss 'I'm never wrong,' and I'm like our mom. That's how much different we are. Our dad (Bill) is all soccer. He played, he coached and he referees. If you need to know anything about soccer, he knows it.

"He knows how to push our buttons. He's not as bad as when we were younger, but we knew he wanted us to learn to compete and to give our best. Now that we do both, he's become more of a fan than a coach.''

But they are sisters, and despite the bickering and comments that they don't get along, they are close. In their words, nobody messes with a Tooley sister. Anyone who does messes with both.

"In soccer the coaches have always told us the team needed to be like a bunch of sisters,'' said Becca, a senior. "We understand that and we are close as a team. But nothing is as strong as the bond between real sisters. We don't do a lot of things together, but we are close. I have Jessica's back and she has mine.''

Clover and Fort Mill tied for the region championship, but the Lady Blue Eagles got the top playoff seed on strength of schedule. Clover broke Fort Mill's string of 71 straight region wins, seven straight outright region titles and beat Fort Mill in girls soccer for the first time in school history.

As special as is was to the two sets of Clover sisters, they are just as excited that it happened while all four were on the same team and that the win gave them a better playoff seed. If each team keeps wining, they would meet for a third time for the Upper State championship, with the winner advancing to the title game.

"It's good that we could be on the same team and do what we've accomplished this year,'' said Kylie Allen, a sophomore. "I play on the same club team with Becca, and all of us are pretty close. Soccer is big at our house. Jordan and I play year round, so when we get home at night that's usually all we talk about.''

Jordan, a senior, signed to play at Francis Marion in Florence next year. Of the two, she's the most competitive sister. Jordan told her story of getting a yellow card for no apparent reason.

"I never even touched the other girl,'' she said. "I told that to the referee. He said he called it because he could see fire in my eyes. I couldn't believe it.''

The other Clover sisters, junior Alisa and freshman Samantha, said they are about as close as two siblings can be. But they have their times on the field, mostly when Alisa yells at Samantha.

"I get mad at her sometimes when she's out of position or does something wrong,'' Alisa said. "She's still young, but that's no excuse. We've been playing soccer together since we were little kids and she knows what must be done.''

"Yeah, that's right,'' Samantha said. "But we are really close. We have different friends because of our ages, but most of our close friends are the same. Well, actually, it's about half and half.

"But I'll tell you something not many people know. Alisa is scared of the dark. If she has to go outside at night, I have to go with her. The dark doesn't bother me.''

Said like a true sister, giving the impression that Samantha had been waiting to tell on her.

And that brings us to Northwestern's sisters: Natalie, a senior, and Stephanie, a freshman. They had never played on the same team until this years, but wanted to before Natalie graduated.

Natalie admitted she dropped some hints to Lady Trojans coach Cesar Robles and he ended up keeping Stephanie on the varsity team.

"After we found out Stephanie was not going to the JV team, we had a talk,'' Natalie said. "I told her varsity soccer is physical and that it is played at a harder level. I told her she'd be fine if she played her game and played it with a lot of heart.''

All of that's fine with Stephanie, who knows the team's underclassmen are the future of Northwestern soccer.

"It will be tough not having Natalie here, but I can't let that bother me,'' Stephanie said. "And sure, she yells at me a lot, but she's trying to help me on the field. The good thing for both of us is we are finally on the same team.''

When the playoffs begin today, all four teams will chase the same goal. Clover and Fort Mill have the best shot at making it the state championship game against the Lower State champion, but the other sisters are not ready to wave a white towel.

Nation Ford's twins have two more years to get there, but for Katie, just playing in tonight's game at Spring Valley is special. The Lady Falcons made the playoffs last year and were eliminated in the opening game. Katie watched from the stands.

"Katie got a red card and they thought it was me,'' Ellen said. "We tried to tell the referees they had made a mistake, that it was me who got the yellow card earlier but they wouldn't listen. The punishment was to miss the next game. I got to play, Katie didn't. Both us will be out there this year.''

  Comments