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Holy Cross’s soccer coach resigns to pursue a master’s degree

Nelson Abreu has resigned as the Academy of Holy Cross’s soccer coach after five seasons to pursue a master’s degree in educational leadership at Hood College in Frederick.

In his time with the team, Abreu turned a perennial middle-of-the-pack program into a true Washington Catholic Athletic Conference contender.

The Tartans’ 13-2-1 record this fall was their best in 13 years and they held this year’s league champion, Our Lady of Good Counsel, to a scoreless tie during the regular season. The Falcons have won the league title in three of the past four years.

Though Abreu, an avid soccer player and fan and extremely knowledgeable coach, said the decision to withdraw from the soccer program was a difficult one, he was comforted by the fact that as a dean of students at Holy Cross he will still be involved in his former charges’ lives.

He is not done coaching soccer, either. He currently leads two teams with the Montgomery Soccer Club for girls ages 13 and 14.

He said he relishes the opportunity to develop young players, to make sure they’re ready for the varsity level by the time they reach high school.

“We graduated some real quality players, this was the first class that I was there when they decided to come to Holy Cross. But I think we’ve shown we have a good foundation and hopefully I’ll be able to help our athletic director find someone who can take the team now to the next level,” Abreu said.

Paint Branch senior earns top honor

Paint Branch senior Justin Hackley was named the Most Outstanding Player of the CKA/Paint Branch Invitational boys basketball tournament, which the Panthers won last week by beating Long Reach, 72-60, on Thursday.

Hackley went 7-for-8 from the field and 6-for-6 from the free throw line during the first game — a 67-52 win against Bethesda-Chevy Chase — on his way to a game-high 20 points. He scored six points in the championship game.

“He sparked us in the first game,” Paint Branch coach Walter Hardy said. “He’s kind of an un-sung hero. he doesn’t make mad decisions. He’s kind of the glue that keeps things together. he doesn’t lose his composure. He makes his free throws. Justin deserved it.”

Jennifer Beekman and Colin Stevens contributed to this report.