By Jim Sullivan
---- — The first time is certainly proving to be a charm for the Triton girls soccer team.
Seeded 11th in the Division 3 North tournament, the Vikes (10-7-3) have taken out both sixth-seeded Swampscott and third-seeded Shawsheen Tech, 1-0, to make it to the semifinals against second-seeded Lynnfield at Woburn High School tonight at 7.
“On the run so far, I feel great,” said Vikings coach Mike Weisberg. “I want more, a lot more. The mood on the team is great. They are working hard every day, and they want more too. I ask them after every playoff game if they are done, and altogether they say, ‘No.’”
That attitude has helped the Vikes make it past two tense contests, the first a double-overtime, two-shootout win against the 12-4-3 Rams that saw sophomore Dena DeAngelico scoring the winning goal with her team’s last shot.
“I think in the end, the team with the most heart definitely came out on top,” said senior left defender Rachael Hall. “(DeAngelico) shot and made it, and the other team had their girl, and she hit it about five feet over the net.”
The second 1-0 win came on an own goal by the 9-6-4 Big Blue that saw the Triton defense holding strong again.
“We’ve been pretty solid defensively, just keeping our shape and absorbing the pressure so that we can counter,” said Weisberg, who stresses a team-first approach. “We defend with everybody, and we attack with everybody. Wherever we need to be, we just swarm the field.”
Anchored by sophomore goalkeeper Christine Ciccone, the Vikes also employ Hall, sophomore right defender Lilly Dow and senior central defender Casey Ross to keep the shutouts going.
“We stick together, and we all talk and communicate well,” Hall said of her fellow defenders. “We push up, we drop back as a team, we know what each one of us is thinking. I think that’s the key to why us three in the back work so well.”
Ciccone has played in net on the varsity squad since she was a freshman and thrives on the pressure.
“There is definitely a lot of pressure, but I think it’s on everyone,” said Ciccone. “I really wouldn’t be anywhere if I didn’t have my defenders. They’re doing a great job. I’m not having to save as many shots as I would have if they were not doing such a great job. I feel pressure, but knowing they are where they are takes a lot of it off.”
Hall gives her goalkeeper the compliment right back.
“She’s amazing,” Hall said of Ciccone. “She always knows what to say and when to say it. She knows when to go for the ball. She has definitely stepped up in the past year.”
“She’s got a lot of natural instincts,” Weisberg added of Ciccone. “She doesn’t hesitate, she just goes for it. When she needs to be out, she’s out. When she needs to be back in, she’s back in. She’s always in the right spot to help us out.”
Having won the last two games on the road, the Vikings will have the luxury of facing the 15-2-2 Pioneers at a neutral site in Woburn. But getting past Lynnfield will prove their greatest challenge yet.
“I think we’re all pretty confident but not getting too overconfident,” said Hall. “It’s a big game and we all realize that, and we all realize that we’ve never been here before. It’s a whole different game now and I think we all just need to leave it all on the field.”
Today’s tournament schedule
DIVISION 3 NORTH GIRLS SOCCER TOURNAMENT
No. 1 Newburyport vs. No. 4 Hamilton-Wenham, 5 p.m. (Manning Field, Lynn)
No. 11 Triton vs. No. 2 Lynnfield, 7 p.m. (Woburn High)