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Alex and Hadley Carlton are not the first set of twins to finish each other’s sentences.

But they might be two of the funniest.

The 17 year old sisters have plenty in common and also quite a few instances in which their tastes differ. They share a singular focus, however, when it comes to the Marblehead High field hockey team, for which both serve as senior captains.

“I think we’re going to be really good,” said Alex Carlton, a minute younger than her sister (who doesn’t hesitate to remind her sibling of this fact). “Our senior class is very athletic; other classes have always told us that by the time we were seniors, we were going to be really good.”

The Magicians are the defending Northeastern Conference champions and have 17 seniors back this fall, not to mention some talented underclassmen. Legendary coach Linda Rice Collins, set to start her 40th year at the helm, has a team that appears to be deep, offensively gifted and, thanks in part to the Carlton sisters, big on leadership.

Hadley so named after her aunt, Hadley (Carlson) MacLean, who just so happened to be a Marblehead field hockey captain in 1988 is a scoring threat from the high attack, with Alex a defender down low who makes it her mission to keep the ball out of her own end.

“When people meet us and find out what positions we play, they’ll say ‘I can see that in your personas,” said Hadley, a terrific attacker in lacrosse who will continue to play that sport at Bowdoin College. She may also try out for the Polar Bears’ field hockey team.

“We like going up against one another in practice, too. Everyone says ‘Oooh, sisters’ when we do, but I know I’m competitive because of her. She’s definitely the most physical defender to go up against. She pushes me to be better in both sports.”

“It’s absolutely a motivator,” added Alex, who like her sister began playing field hockey in the seventh grade. “Hadley pushes me to be a stronger leader and a better player and person.”

Rice Collins said there is no such thing as a simple drill when thereturning Salem News and Northeastern Conference all starssquare off in practice.

“It’s always full speed, every single time,” she said with a chuckle. “They’re on each other constantly to see the play, move the ball, cut to it . but it’s all positive, constant encouragement. It’s not about one trying to top the other; it’s about helping each other constantly get better.”The Carltons aren’t even the only twins on the roster; fellow seniors Khendra and Khayla Davis, students from Madison Park who attend Marblehead through the school’s METCO program, are midfielders.

The Magicians are rife with aptitude, so much so that four of their classmates Cricket Thompkins, Bell Sogoloff and Caroline Driscoll up front, and Carolyn Arthur on defense are also team captains.

If you think that sextet isn’t taking their senior season of field hockey seriously, think again. They scheduled a meeting with Rice Collins to talk about how they wanted to approach the season (“and what I could cook them,” laughed the coach) over three months before the season even started.

“These seniors have been friends forever,” said Rice Collins. “They came into the program as a massive group and have been close ever since.”

‘One last year together’

The only children of Peter and Megan Carlton, the twins are fraternal, not identical. Alex has blond curly hair; Hadley’s is straight and more dirty blond bordering on light brown. They take the same challenging classes, their grade point averages are near identical and share the same group of friends and sports clothes. Rice Collins said they can “absolutely control the field” on game days because of their ability to transition upfield and find each other with passes, often without even looking.

But the twins relish their differences that make them individuals. Alex listens to rap, rock and alternative music, loves ice cream and says she’s more of an “edgy” dresser with her Vans and adidas. Hadley’s more into pop, electronic and dance music, lists lobster as her favorite food and prefers more colorful clothing from the likes of lululemon, American Eagle or the Gap.

But they’ve never played on a team, whether at the youth, club or high school level, that didn’t include each other. That will change next year when Hadley heads off to Brunswick, Maine, while Alex continues her education elsewhere; she’s currently exploring Division 1 schools (where she’d opt for club sports) and some Division 3 institutions of higher learning.

“We’ve always had the same athletic routine, so it’ll definitely be different,” admitted Alex. “Living wise, too; we’ve always been there for each other and that won’t change, but we’ll be apart. But a little bit of separation might bring us closer.”

“It’ll be weird not seeing my sister or playing sports with her every day,” added Hadley. “But we’ve got this one last year together and want to make the most of it.”.
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