Net effect: North Andover goalies dominate

Senior goalie Troy Takesian hears the jokes.

A third-year starter on the North Andover boys hockey team, he’s made a name for himself in town. Cracking 1,500 career saves earlier this month adds to the program’s first winning record since 2020, and Takesian is set to make a run at the Arizona State club team next year.

According to some around him, it sounds a little too similar to what North Andover native Joey Daccord did in his path to starting in net for the NHL’s Seattle Kraken this year – aside from his playing at Cushing Academy – to be a coincidence. Takesian is playfully teased that he’s trying to be like Daccord.

He isn’t, though it is a reminder of how he adds to a sort of goaltender legacy produced out of the town, a legacy that reached an even higher level this year.

Takesian surpassed 1,500 saves on Feb. 16 against Tewksbury. As part of a 57-save outing against Notre Dame (H), North Andover junior Julianna Taylor reached the same plateau for the HPNA co-op the next day.

In rare timing, they’ve made the history books together.

“It just feels great that my hard work on my own has affected a group of 20-plus guys so positively,” Takesian said. “I think it’s kind of crazy that North Andover, the way that we have produced goalie talent specifically.”

“(1,500 saves as a junior) means a lot … I’m facing a lot of shots but I’m in the best league in the state so it’s going to happen,” Taylor said. “But it’s just hard work that pays off to get to that point. … I think when you think of North Andover teams, you think they have good defense, good goalies.”

The work both have put in to reach this point has impressed their coaches.

Hillies head coach Gary Kane will show up to a rink to scout one of the many elite competitors HPNA faces in the MVC/DCL Large, and he’ll see that Taylor is often already there, eyeing the competition.

Only four times has she allowed more than two goals in regulation this year, and many of those 20 total games saw her get peppered with shots.

“Especially with the teams we have played in the last three years, she has just been spectacular,” Kane said. “With a goalie of her caliber, it’s not that the kids let down, but they just trust she’s going to cover up some of the inequities and the things that we might not do well. She’s just allowed us to play at a higher level.”

A starter since her freshman year, Taylor is one of the most confident players Kane has ever coached. Her skill set has drawn the attention from prep schools, though she’s decided to stay. Part of that reveals her loyalty and connection with her teammates, and another part reveals the competitive fire she has with the Hillies.

That’s also seen in her self-criticism in even a one-goal loss that she stood on her head in.

“If my team scores and I let in a puck, I feel like there could always be one more thing I could’ve done to stop the puck,” Taylor said. “I just want to keep on pushing myself and not just be like, ‘Oh, that happens.’ I want to just work on getting better every single time.”

Takesian didn’t start his sophomore year as the lock-in starter – two were fighting for the job. But after he came in as an injury replacement in the first game, it’s been his job ever since.

“There’s not a lot that I can’t say about Troy,” said North Andover head coach Scott Green. “Even as a sophomore, just through his play he was earning the respect of everyone in the program, and so then once they started to see what he was doing, anytime he spoke up people were listening. … His off-ice attitude and work ethic is just second to none with how hard he works to prepare with working out in the offseason, and training, and doing different camps.”

Much like for Taylor, the MVC/DCL II has produced quite a few offensive talents Takesian’s had to face – especially Tewksbury and Concord-Carlisle. The plan is always to hold opposing teams to one or two goals, but if that’s not working out, it’s focusing on a shutout in the third period.

Offseason camps and clubs have helped him improve to anchor a turnaround from the team’s 5-11-4 record last year, to now stand at 11-8-1. Since having to fight for his job at a young age, laying it all out in practice has been a major focus for him.

And it’s worked.

“Had a lot of work in high school and I don’t think I would’ve had it any other way,” Takesian said. “When I was younger, I was always on club teams where I had to fight for that starting job and nothing was ever guaranteed. … In high school, especially when I was a sophomore showing up to practice, being able to compete with the older guys and showing them I was there for a reason was always something that lit a fire under me to keep working hard.”

Back in Div. 2 after a brief stay in Div. 1, Takesian and his eight senior teammates finally reach the state tournament for the first time in their careers. Wins over teams like Concord-Carlisle, Boston Latin, Masconomet and Arlington Catholic leave room to believe the group could make some noise, matching up with No. 20 Milton as the 13th seed on Thursday.

“It just feels amazing not only to play in a playoff atmosphere, but to have it at home and all our friends there to watch,” Takesian said.

HPNA looks to avenge an early exit in the Div. 1 state tournament last year, preaching that it’s anyone’s game and seeding doesn’t necessarily matter. It has nine losses this year to grab the 12th seed, but only two of those losses have come by more than two goals despite facing fellow powers. It’s the only team in the league to beat champion Lincoln-Sudbury, ended the year with a win over Peabody/Lynnfield/North Reading and lost to NDA 1-0 in overtime.

Count on her and Takesian on giving both teams their best shot.

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