BYFIELD — When the state tournament draws were announced last week, the thing that immediately jumped out was a tantalizing possibility of a second-round matchup between Triton and Newburyport. But in order for that to happen, the Vikings will have to take care of business tonight against Melrose first.
The No. 10-seeded Triton girls lacrosse team (10-7-1) will face No. 7 Melrose (9-4-3) in the first round of the Division II North tournament at Melrose High School at 7 p.m.
The winner will go on to face Newburyport in the quarterfinal, but head coach Stacey Beaulieu said that while the chance to get another shot at the Clippers on the biggest stage will be a nice bonus, the team isn’t looking past the challenge that Melrose will bring.
“We’re not looking ahead in the bracket at all,” Beaulieu said. “I’m sure the kids know who is next, and I’m sure they want that opportunity, but you can’t disrespect the opponent in front of you.”
Beaulieu said she expects her team and Melrose will match up fairly evenly, especially considering their comparable records against common opponents. For instance, Triton tied Wilmington 16-16 earlier in the year and Melrose beat them by one goal, and against Woburn, Triton lost by four goals while Melrose lost by one.
“On paper we look evenly matched, but that’s why we play on grass,” Beaulieu said. “It’s a new season and you got to leave everything on the field.”
For Triton to advance, the key figures to be maintaining control of the ball and limiting Melrose’s chances offensively, at least enough so that the Vikings’ high-powered offense can carry the team through.
In terms of point production, the Vikings were a team that frequently played a lot of high-scoring games. Triton scored 220 goals over the course of the season, averaging 12.2 goals per game; and during the second half of the season the Vikings scored at least 10 goals in nine consecutive games to end the year.