This article has been modified from its original version largely to remove an unsourced paragraph that editorialized on McCann's academics and athletics and Mount Greylock's social atmosphere.
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NORTH ADAMS -- McCann girls' soccer coach Mike Dowling had to do something about Mary.
Mary Nguyen, the all-time leading scorer in McCann girls' soccer history.
"Everybody in the league, everybody in town, 'Oh, you lost Mary. What are you gonna do now? What are you gonna do now?' " Dowling said. "They said the same thing about Heather Malloy. Now it was, 'What are you gonna do about Mary?' Same thing I did about Heather."
Find the next Mary. Her name is Cheyanne Alcombright.
For the record, Alcombright isn't Mayor Richard Alcombright's daughter. She is a sophomore transfer from Mount Greylock Regional High School in Williamstown, and, like everyone tells her, more mature than most students her age.
She speaks clearly, honestly and frankly -- those adverbial traits gleaned from a public speaking class at Mount Greylock -- although she's cognizant of overusing "like."
Alcombright is a crossbreed of a Mountie and Hornet. She showed up before Wednesday's game against Pathfinder wearing Mount Greylock gear because she is proud she attended the school for three years, from seventh to ninth grade.
"I would never be ashamed to say I went there," Alcombright said.
But there's a reason she's not at Mount Greylock anymore, and part of it is the social experience she had there.
"If you take the movie 'Mean Girls,'" Alcombright said, "that's Mount Greylock. To be completely honest, everybody at Mount Greylock, even though they're friends and in their friend groups, they all hate each other."
In her freshman year, Alcombright was evicted from her clique -- the sporty/popular girl one, in her words -- which, in adult terms, is equivalent to a mid-life crisis. To this day, she doesn't have peace of mind about the reasons.
"That's what I'm wondering," she said. "Everybody started changing -- that time where everybody's going through the whole teenage thing. Last year, I did not fit in at all. I kept to myself. I wasn't as outgoing as I normally am."
The other reason Alcombright left Mount Greylock had to do with soccer.
The sophomore didn't play in seventh grade, still intimidated about competing with much-older girls. In eighth grade, she didn't have time since she was still playing in the Hoosac Valley Tunnel co-ed league.
Finally, as a freshman, she mustered the gumption to try out, except she missed preseason workouts and was slotted on the junior varsity team. Alcombright didn't make it to the Mounties' first game after Greylock coach Tom Ostheimer sensed she was uncomfortable and encouraged her to go out next year.
"He actually told me on the day of our first game," Alcombright said. "He was like, ‘I don't think you should be playing.' I was like, ‘Oh, OK.' He was like, ‘You already have your jersey, so you can just give it to me.' I was heartbroken."
Ostheimer couldn't be reached to confirm the story.
Feeling like a castaway, her social life in shambles and athletic career in doubt, Alcombright made the hardest decision of adolescent life. She left friends, left Williamstown, left comfortable.
"I feel like my life has done a complete 180," Alcombright said. "It worried me because I thought, ‘What will people say when I leave.' All my friends thought I was going to come here and go right back."
So far, Alcombright doesn't anticipate she will. Don't get her wrong; she misses friends and parts of life at Mount Greylock. But she still gets to be an honorary Mountie at football games and while attending homecoming.
For now, McCann's magnetism is too much. Alcombright enjoys the relaxed lifestyle while acknowledging the rigors of Mount Greylock equip students for college.
"Here, it's not like easy, but it's a lot more laid back, and the people here are a lot easier to get along with," she said. "I have so much free time; I have no clue what to do with myself.
"I love this school. I'm so much happier here than I was at Mount Greylock."
The Hornets (11-3-1) are equally delighted to have her. More or less, McCann replaced Nguyen by committee, but Alcombright is head of the committee.
Dowling actually underestimated his sophomore by saying she has 10 goals. That number is 11, according to MassLive. But even that figure factors out a couple Hornets' matches. Truthfully, Alcombright is closer to 15, which is, obviously, still a ways off Nguyen's numbers.
Interestingly, Dowling didn't know what he had when he first saw Nguyen. He couldn't have envisioned he'd have another 100-some goal scorer. Ditto for this year.
"I saw who I had on the team and who was coming into McCann and, nah, I wasn't worried," he said. "I was ... not rebuilding. Optimistic."
That optimism wasn't in vain. That's the thing about the Hornets. They must have a cloning machine stowed away in the locker room storage closet because they keep producing these goal-scoring phenoms.
Dowling said three girls joined the 100 club in his 12-year tenure, which fits in with his flair for offense.
"I like scoring goals," Dowling said. "I rather lose 6-4 than 1-nothing."
The Hornets have manufactured wins in different ways, relying on defense and goalkeeping, which combined to pitch eight shutouts. McCann's highest goal output, seven, came against Putnam in the second match of the season.
Safe to say, the Hornets' identity morphed.
"The talent is coming," Dowling said. "But they just play hard."
Which is why the coach stood secure after last year's campaign. He didn't know what he had. But, as seems to be the case, someone takes care of the Hornets. Alcombright fell into their lap.
"You just look and say, ‘This is what I'm going to do now,' " Dowling said.
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