HERMON, Maine — Alex Allain began playing soccer when she was 4 years old in Madawaska.
She and her family moved to Hermon four years later when her father, Luc, landed a job at Cianbro and Alex found herself immersed in a more intensified level of soccer.
That led her to the prestigious accomplishment of earning a spot on the Under-14 roster of the United States Region 1 roster that will participate in a camp in Buffalo, N.Y,. in December. She is one of 50 players selected from the region that includes all of the New England states and several other states in the northeast and mid-Atlantic states.
Allain, an attacking midfielder and striker, earned her spot through her play at a regional identification camp in Rhode Island earlier this summer.
“There were around 210 players there, and 50 made the pool [for Buffalo],” said M.J. Ball, who is Allain’s Hermon Middle School coach and has also coached her with Seacoast United and with the Hampden Bronco travel teams.
“She’s a special player,” said Ball who also coaches Allain’s older sister, Savannah, a standout for the defending Eastern Maine Class B champion Hermon High School Hawks this fall.
Savannah, who will be a junior, plays on the U-17 Seacoast United team.
Alex Allain had 33 goals and 25 assists in 10 games for the Hermon Middle School team a year ago.
“She figured in 65 percent of our goals,” pointed out Ball.
Ball said Allain has several attributes and her best asset is her ability to “escape pressure with the ball at her feet with a defender or two coming at her.
“She will use her first touch to get out of trouble and make the next pass or dribble or take a shot,” said Ball. “She has quick feet and she makes quick decisions. Her speed of play is very fast.”
Ball also said Allain is “very comfortable with the ball at her feet,” meaning she is able to survey the field while controlling the ball. That enables her to find an open teammate and make a precise pass.
“She tries to get the other players involved. But I’m trying to get her to take games over with her special abilities,” said Ball.
Allain said she was “excited” about earning a spot on the Region 1 camp team, and Ball pointed out that she is one of the youngest players from the state to ever earn such an honor.
“It’s a great experience being 13 and being able to go that far,” said Allain who stands 5-foot-2 and weighs 95 pounds.
She admitted that the identification camp was nerve-wracking, especially being a small-town girl from Maine playing with girls from major metropolitan areas.
“I was really nervous the first few days,” said Allain. “I didn’t know anybody there and I wasn’t playing with my [Seacoast United] team. But as the days went on, I felt more comfortable. I pushed myself harder and I felt I could play with them.”
She said the move from Madawaska to Hermon has been instrumental in her progress, although there was definitely an adjustment period.
“It was a lot different. Up there, you knew everybody and playing was a piece of cake,” said Allain. “Down here, there was a lot of good competition. And I’ve met a lot of new people.
“I’ve really improved my ball-handling and passing and I’m more confident shooting with both feet now. My right foot is my strong foot, but now I’ve become more comfortable shooting with my left foot,” said Allain.
Ball knew she had special talent.
Allain played for Mike Saulter and Al Tripp’s Hampden Bronco and Seacoast United teams and Ball said she played “up” with older girls on age-group teams that were beyond her years.
“Playing with older players makes you want to push harder to play at their level so you don’t look like you’re younger than they are,” said Allain whose mother, Suzelle Gagnon played soccer in high school.
“Alex also played on teams with boys and that helped her,” Ball added.
He is going to encourage her to be the only girl on his Bronco boys Under-14 travel team this fall although Allain said she hasn’t made up her mind whether to play on the boys team or on the U-14 girls team.
“She would be one of the top three players on the boys team, and it would challenge her,” explained Ball.
She will also play for Seacoast United year-round and for her Hermon Middle School team.
Allain helped lead her U-14 Bronco Travel and Seacoast United teams to State Cup championships last fall and this past June.
Alex said her sister Savannah has been a major influence.
“Watching her play center midfield has helped me improve my field vision,” said Alex. “She’s a very smart player, and I learned what I needed to work on by watching her.”
Ball said the Allain sisters have an exceptional work ethic and are very coachable.
Allain enjoys playing for Ball, calling him a “real good coach” who is motivational and positive.