Sibling rivalry

Beth­any Walsh (white jer­sey, left), a fresh­man varsity play­er for Saint Basils, com­petes against Arch­bish­op Ry­an’s Emily Vizza (black jer­sey, right) dur­ing a game on Sat­urday, Septem­ber 17. Kev­in Cook / for the Times

It was a fam­ily af­fair Sat­urday af­ter­noon as Arch­bish­op Ry­an High School vis­ited St. Basil Academy in a non-league varsity soc­cer game.

Ten­sions are usu­ally high between com­pet­ing teams, but this time, it was per­son­al.  

Ju­ni­or Scar­lett Walsh plays for the Arch­bish­op Ry­an Rag­dolls; her young­er sis­ter Beth­any is a St. Basil fresh­man who plays for the Pan­thers. Not only are they on op­pos­ing teams, but Scar­lett is a de­fense­man and Beth­any plays of­fense — pit­ting the sis­ters head to head dur­ing the game.

This was the very first time the sis­ters faced each oth­er on op­pos­ing teams.  

“I’ve nev­er played against her,” said Scar­lett. “We played to­geth­er on CYO. Beth­any’s help­ful when she’s on your team, but she wants to hurt you when she’s on the oth­er team.”

Last week was a long one in the Walsh house­hold.

“I kept say­ing we were go­ing to win, and she was kind of scared,” Scar­lett said, laugh­ing. “When my friends come over she al­ways says, ‘I’m go­ing to beat you guys.’”

Soc­cer has be­come a way of life for the Walsh fam­ily. The old­est sis­ter, Col­lette, played for Arch­bish­op Ry­an and in col­lege. So when Beth­any chose to at­tend St. Basil Academy, the pres­sure star­ted build­ing in­stantly.

“Every­one fol­lowed in my old­est sis­ter’s foot­steps, so there had to be a change,” ex­plained Beth­any. “Something dif­fer­ent.”

The fam­ily joked that she would have to make the varsity team her fresh­man year, a feat both of her older sis­ters, Col­lette and Scar­lett, ac­com­plished with Arch­bish­op Ry­an. Beth­any rose to the chal­lenge and made Basil’s varsity squad as a start­ing mid­field­er.

“She’s al­ways been a hard-work­ing kid,” said St. Basil head coach Tim Cur­ran. “She’s a pleas­ure to have on the team.  She listens and she gets it. She’s only a fresh­man, but she blends in with the varsity team. Most people are sur­prised to hear she’s a fresh­man.”

In ad­di­tion to play­ing for their re­spect­ive schools, the sis­ters play for club teams. Scar­lett plays for the FC Bucks Prowl­ers, trav­el­ing across the coun­try 11 months of the year. Beth­any com­petes for the Hunt­ing­ton Val­ley Soc­cer Club, and will be­gin trav­el­ing as of­ten as Scar­lett.  

The young­est Walsh sis­ter, Priscilla, is 11 and also plays with Hunt­ing­don Val­ley.

So how does the fam­ily do it?

“It’s a lot of run­ning,” said their fath­er, Jim. “Most of our week­ends are spent trav­el­ing. It’s try­ing to fig­ure out how to get to all of these events, and try­ing to see every­one equally.”

Fam­ily and friends lined the field on Sat­urday af­ter­noon as the sis­ters took their po­s­i­tions on the field.

Ry­an got off to an early lead, 2-0, and held it through the first half of game ac­tion. The Rag­dolls con­tin­ued to dom­in­ate, with most of the second half played at the Pan­thers’ goal. Ry­an piled it on and won the game, 5-0.  

Seni­or Cal­in Blaney had two goals for the Rag­dolls. Ju­ni­ors Brit­tany Robin­son and Lind­sey Rodgers ad­ded goals. Sopho­more Bri­ana Egen­lauf also con­trib­uted one goal and two as­sists for Ry­an.  

The Rag­dolls stand at three wins and one tie.

“We didn’t know who to root for, so we stayed neut­ral dur­ing the game,” said the sis­ters’ fath­er, Jim, with a laugh. “We knew Ry­an was stronger go­ing in­to it, based on pre­vi­ous games they played and oth­er op­pon­ents. We were hop­ing it would go a little closer, but Basil’s will get stronger. They have a young team, too, so they’re do­ing well.”

The Pan­thers have yet to win a game this sea­son.

“We have some tough com­pet­i­tion,” said Cur­ran. “Our league is very tough, and usu­ally a rep­res­ent­at­ive comes out of our league to play in the state cham­pi­on­ship.”  

“We’ll con­tin­ue work­ing on our mid­field­ers and de­fens­ive backs,” ad­ded the head coach. “We are try­ing to teach the kids to be stu­dents of the game, and play the game prop­erly.” 

Cur­ran is the first coach in four years to re­turn for a second sea­son.  

“There hasn’t been a sol­id found­a­tion,” he ex­plained. “We have a lot of young play­ers, and they are go­ing to help the pro­gram im­prove. Play­ers come to Basil’s for our bas­ket­ball, vol­ley­ball and track pro­grams, and hope­fully soc­cer will be that way in the fu­ture.”

After the game, Scar­lett waited for Beth­any.

ldquo;It wasn’t that bad … we didn’t even come in con­tact at all,” Beth­any said to her older sis­ter.

“I was say­ing stuff to you, though,” Scar­lett replied, smil­ing.

Al­though the game was over, the friendly sis­terly rivalry was not. And that made for a long ride home.  

“I ac­tu­ally drove her here,” laughed Scar­lett. ••

Re­port­er Gab­ri­ella Sacidor can be reached at Gab­ri­ella.sacidor@com­

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