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Updike leaves mark on soccer field

Published June 22. 2011 05:01PM

When people think of Allison Updike, the first thing that probably comes to mind is that she is one of the top javelin throwers in the nation.

As a matter of fact, the recent Tamaqua High graduate will continue her education and track and field career at the University of Georgia this fall.

Her accolades don't stop there, however.

Updike was also a starter on the Lady Raiders' outstanding girls basketball team and led the girls soccer team to two District 11 fall gold medals.

Holding the school's all-time scoring record (boys and girls) was just part of the reason that Updike earned the honor of 2010-2011 TIMES NEWS Area Girls Soccer Player of the Year.

"Ali brought to our program a new type of player," said Clem McCarroll, Tamaqua girls soccer coach. "She brought a whole new style of work ethic and drive to succeed which made everyone around her better. That's how you can tell when you have a great athlete - when they make everyone else around them do better. She was so talented she could have played any position on the field and was willing to play wherever she was asked to."

Allison was a big reason why Tamaqua girls finished 16-4-1 this past fall. She scored 25 goals, an amazing feat considering she was double and tripled teamed most of the time.

"It was a memorable season for us," Updike said when asked about her senior year. "I had a lot of my friends playing with me. It was a year where I wanted to do a little more, with districts and stuff and our season was perfect."

She finished her career with 88 goals (the previous school record was 87 by John Henne, who graduated in 1999 and the previous girls record was 40 by Jaime Price).

Updike had 10 goals as a freshman, 31 as sophomore, 22 as a junior and 25 as a senior.

Between her sophomore and junior years, she tore her ACL and still managed to score 22 goals.

"Her strength and technique were her biggest assets, said McCarroll. "She would fight through double and triple teams with ease and never get frustrated and when she did all the complimentary things like passing, playing defense or shooting, her form was always exactly the way it should be.

"In the end for her I believe its her heart that really separated her. You can't teach heart they either have it or they don't."

And there is no denying that Updike has heart. She battled back from the torn ACL in her left knee and then most recently, tore the ACL in her right knee to end her high school track and field career early.

"Being in that striker position, you are going to have people on you," Updike said. "The thing that got me open was to pass the ball. Using that one-touch pass, you'll get open and that was my strategy. It created space for other people and then created space for me."

Showing what type of competitor she is, Updike looks at the three games against Blue Mountain this year as those that she'll remember the most.

"We lost to them the first game, then we tied them and lost to them in districts," she said. "We stuck with them and played great against them in all three. They had great defense and great offense and were just a great team."

McCarroll remembers the District 11 semifinal the most.

"She played every game like it was a playoff game but in that game she set the school record," he said. "And the reason it stood out is she wasn't aware of the record because I never told her she was approaching it. She is such a team player things like that weren't important to her."

Updike is also tied for school record for goals in a game (4) which she did twice.

She was named to the All-State team in 2010 and has been a Schuylkill League Division 1 first team player all four years. Ali was a captain this year. She scored the winning goal in overtime on a header in 2008 to bring the Tamaqua girls its first ever District Championship.

"A lot of people told me not to play soccer or basketball this year just because of my track scholarship and everything," she noted. "It's kind of ironic I got through those sports and then injured myself throwing the javelin. It's the way it is, it's life, so you have to continue .

"When I was younger, soccer was my sport," she said. "I loved soccer. Then when I got to high school, I started other sports and fell in love with them, but after track and field, it's still my second love."

And McCarroll has nothing but high praise for his record-breaker.

"I admire her so much, not because she was a super-star but because she is a total team player," he said. "No matter what you asked of her she was always willing to do it.

"I believe we witnessed one of the greatest athletes to ever attend Tamaqua High School, male or female, and I believe she is going to move on to do great things iin whatever field she decides to continue in."

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