By Jim Sullivan Correspondent
Newburyport Daily News
---- — AMESBURY -- Even before the season began, the Amesbury girls soccer players’ practice shirts said it all: “We believe. It’s our year.”
And so far, it has been.
The Amesbury girls soccer team completed an undefeated regular season after its 4-0 shutout against Rockport Thursday, inflating its record to 15-0-2.
“It’s hard to put into words just how I feel,” Amesbury coach Cathy Berry says of the regular season. “I feel overwhelmed with the whole idea of this. But the fact that I’ve been a little part of it, there are 25 parts to this process this year, just to be a part of it feels wonderful. It’s very rewarding given the fact that I have been at it for 12 years.”
Indeed things haven’t always been this good for the Indians. Berry walked into a shaky program when she moved up to coaching varsity from JV in 2002.
“We would win a couple of games, tie a couple,” Berry says of her humble beginnings as head coach. “Then we would have a season where we would win four, tie two, win three, tie five. But we never got into those double-digit points. We were constantly improving skill-wise, until (this year’s) seniors were in eighth grade, then we started getting better. We won seven games (in 2008), which was big for us.”
The next year (2009), the Indians missed the state tournament by only one point. But in 2010 and 2011, they went to the first round of the playoffs.
“They started putting the time in long before me,” the proud Berry says of her girls. “Their love of soccer and how much time they’ve put into their game, even without me, makes me extremely proud of their work ethic and their maturity and their dedication.”
Many of these Indians have been playing together since youth soccer, developing a language all their own. Senior defender Emily Martin sees that as a key ingredient to the team’s success.
“We’ve been together for as long as I can remember, and our team bond has really helped us get as far as we have,” says Martin.
Martin’s fellow senior defender Taylor Tagliente agrees with her friend and also sees a bittersweet side peeking around the corner.
“We had our senior night, and it was just kind of emotional because you never really think things are going to end, you really do,” says Tagliente. “And for us seniors, soccer has pretty much been our lives. At school, everyone refers to us as the, ‘Soccer moms’. It’s been soccer, soccer, soccer, soccer, soccer, eat, soccer. It’s weird to think the days are dwindling, but the memories will always be there.”
One of the best memories of this season was beating then undefeated Newburyport 3-0 to kick off the Indians Columbus Day weekend.
“It was awesome,” Martin says of the home-turf win. “We went out and celebrated after. We went to Friendly’s and pigged out. It felt nice.”
Berry doesn’t see the program dropping off after her seniors leave. Newcomer freshman striker Lauren Fedorchak agrees.
“It’s good to be a part of this team because they’re all amazing girls,” says Fedorchak. “And I think we’ll have a good team next year.”
For the moment, senior outside midfielder Natalie Dawes is blown away by her team’s success.
“It’s pretty amazing that we were able to pull it out,” says Dawes. “We had a goal going into the season, and it is nice to achieve that.”
Berry says that she and her girls are ready for the tournament, but also wonders where the time went.
“It went by extremely fast,” Berry says of the season. “We came in August, and we put those three, four weeks in, in the beginning of the season. And all of a sudden, the games start and it flies by.”