At 7 years old, Ayla Allen had no choice.
With a pair of sisters playing lacrosse, Allen knew she had to fit in somehow, so she picked up the game. There was no youth program in the Rumford area, but there was at home.
Now a sophomore in high school, and with both older sisters through college, Allen is taking a shot at every offensive record the Falcons have.
Pushing 5-feet, 10-inches, the lefty sniper has already scored 29 goals this season — in the team’s first three games.
“It’s so hard to say why,” Allen said. “I’ve become more confident in the past year. Last year, it was my freshman year. I was kind of an underdog. I didn’t really know how to act or anything. But this year, I have the support of my team. The support there just makes me more confident.”
Playing into Allen’s hands is the fact that she’s a lefty. Most defenders are taught from the beginning to push opponents to their left, which for most players is their weak side.
Not for Allen.
“That’s where I’m strong, on my left hand,” Allen said. “People start to try and force me left, but then they realize that it’s my strong side. My biggest thing now is to work hard on my right hand. In practice, I’ll spend a lot of time starting to the left, and then switching to the right.”
As a teammate, Allen has been a model of teamwork.
“I’m about total team play,” coach Rick White said. “I want to spread it around a lot when I can, but at the same time, it’s not like she’s out there forcing shots. And she’s not short, so she can even shoot over some of the girls who try to defend her.”
Allen doesn’t mind racking up assists, either.
“When I’m covered, I know I can dish it off to my teammates,” Allen said. “If I have someone behind me, I’ll give them the ball.”
Allen said she’s almost been forced to do that already, given her penchant for finding the net.
“Teams are starting to get the idea,” Allen said. “It’s going to come down to the rest of the team, and I know that I’m going to be a target.”
Target or not, though, Allen is on a torrid pace. It may slow down a bit once the Falcons start playing teams for a second time.
“There’s no way we expected that she’d have this many goals already,” White said, “and we’ll probably need to look at being a bit more balanced as the rest of the team grows and matures. But there’s no telling what she’s going to be able to do. She’s grown a lot in the last year, both on the field and as a person. Obviously, if she keeps this up, she’s going to break every record that we have.”