By Jim Sullivan
---- — Having an undefeated regular season can get one noticed. In the case Amesbury girls soccer players Megan Cullen and Janine Fatal, that notoriety earned them slots on this year’s Agganis Classic.
“It feels good that some girls from Amesbury are getting recognized,” said Indians coach Cathy Berry. “Even though we struggled up until the last few years, you always have those players that are really good players and deserve some recognition, even when you don’t have a winning record.”
As seniors, Cullen, a forward and co-captain, and Fatal, a center-midfielder, were a big part of last year’s 18-1-1 season. But everything wasn’t always peaches and cream for these Indians.
“This was the start of the rebuilding, when they came in as freshman,” said Berry. “Our numbers were low. We barely had enough players for two teams. In their freshman year, we missed the tournament by one point. Then in their sophomore, junior and senior years, we made the tournament.”
Fatal, who will be playing soccer for Worcester Polytechnic Institute in the fall, said she was very excited by her high school team’s building success over the years.
“Every year we got better and made it a little bit further,” said Fatal. “Going from not even making the tournament to being undefeated and the top seed in the tournament in our senior year was such a turnaround for the program. It was also very exciting to be the first Amesbury team to be Cape Ann League champs in girls soccer. We made it so far from where we started.”
“They were a very skilled group of girls,” Berry said of her now-former seniors. “They were a very cohesive group, a very hard-working group. And I think that Janine and Megan are a perfect example of that. That’s what I think they built their success around, that hard work and cohesiveness. Anyone can be a skilled player, but to have that altogether makes a team good.”
Fatal also credits her high school team’s chemistry with a lot of its success.
“Our team was very close, we were almost like a family,” said Fatal. “We had dinners together after almost every game. Our team did everything together.”
Having missed playing her junior year after an ACL tear, Cullen was glad for the chance to get another go at things.
“We are a family,” said Cullen. “We worked so hard and pushed each other so hard to get to that point to be the CAL champs. It was just such an amazing feeling. After four years of hard work, we were able to make that accomplishment happen.”
Now two members of that family will be playing in the Agganis Classic tonight at Manning Field in Lynn.
“I was really excited,” Cullen said of when she found out she had made the Agganis Games. “I knew that (Berry) had nominated me for something, but I didn’t know what it was. But when I found out it was the Agganis Games and that I had made it, I was ecstatic. It’s such an accomplishment.”
Fatal is also happy to be playing once again with Cullen, who will be playing at Lasell College in a few months.
“We’ve been playing together ever since we were little,” Fatal said. “And having one of my best friends there with me is going to be really cool. We’ve been playing together for so long that we know how each other plays.”