Wednesday, May 12, 2010

South Meck's soccer sister act

Eric White knew about Ally Butler before he took the girls' soccer coaching job at South Mecklenburg High this year. The junior has been all-conference since her freshman year.

But White was surprised to find soccer runs in the Butler family, with younger sister Casey starting this year on the varsity team as a freshman.

"They're identical in a lot of ways - just really quiet and cerebral type kids," said White. "But when they get on the soccer field (they are) just unbelievably aggressive, unbelievably skilled and just so much fun to watch."

The Butler sisters have led the Sabres to a 8-7-2 record, the team's first winning record in five years.

With only four seniors, the Sabres have just freshman and sophomores playing the midfield. Ally and Casey have stepped up to be leaders, said White.

"I'm glad that I get to have Casey three more years, and I get to have Ally for at least one more year," he said.

The two have a great work ethic in practice and everyone follows them, he added. White expects Ally will be all-conference again and that Casey also will earn that honor.

Despite her being a freshman, White said, the rest of the girls look up to Casey because of her toughness and the fact she plays the most important position on the field, center midfield.

The sisters are also leaders off the field. Ally was recently elected as the student body president and Casey will be the vice president of the sophomore class next year.

Both girls started playing soccer at the Harris YMCA when they were 4. "She was always the one out playing soccer, and I guess I just wanted to, too," said Casey, 15.

Casey said she never feels pressure from her older sister, but instead looks up to Ally and gets encouragement from her. "I just try to set the way and let her follow," said Ally, 16.

The sisters were also teammates on the varsity basketball team this year. Both also play for Charlotte United (Casey on the U16 and Ally on the U18).

With all the time they spend together playing sports, it's good that they get along on the field and the court.

"There's nothing hard about (playing on the same team)," said Casey.

"I'll miss it," said Ally of playing with her sister. "I like this year better than the other two years (I've played). It's been better having her here - better than not having her here."

At the same time, Casey said, when Ally graduates it will be nice, because she will have a chance to be on the team on her own.

White said both girls are extremely aggressive, but their play on the field is different. "Casey is more attacking-minded," he said. "She's a really good ball distributor."

"Ally is a defender, through and through," he said.

Sibling instincts help Casey and Ally on the field. Casey said they can always trust each other to work hard and be in the right place.

"I usually know how she's going to play, and I know if the rest of the team's giving up she'll be there working just as hard as I am," said Ally.

-- Corey Inscoe