By Dan Guttenplan Sports Editor
Newburyport Daily News
---- — Two local coaches felt the weight of seeing their respective teams named the top seed in state-tournament play yesterday.
The Amesbury girls and Pentucket boys soccer teams drew top seeds in their respective tournaments when the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association released its pairings.
The Amesbury girls had their best season in program history, finishing 15-0-2 with a cast of seniors that includes All-Cape Ann League selections in Megan Cullen, Emily Martin and Erin Leary. The Indians are the top seed in the Eastern Mass. Division 2 North tournament, making a postseason appearance for the third year in a row. The Indians fell in the first round each of the last two years, but they entered those games as the lower seed.
“I definitely think there’s a lot more pressure,” said Amesbury coach Cathy Berry, who was named CAL Division 2 Coach of the Year. “Everyone knows we’re No. 1, everyone will be looking at us. The pressure of being the No. 1 seed is that you’re expected to win, to be successful. There’s a lot more pressure, particularly in the first round.”
The Indians will begin their postseason push Sunday night (7 p.m.) when they host the winner of the preliminary-round matchup between No. 16 Gloucester and No. 17 Arlington Catholic at Landry Stadium.
There is a chance the Indians could meet rival Newburyport (13-2-2) in the Division 2 North semifinal. The Clippers drew the No. 4 seed, and will open against Wakefield Sunday (1 p.m.) at Cherry Hill.
Amesbury beat Newburyport 3-0 when the teams met October 5.
“We knew there was a good chance they’d be on our side,” Berry said of Newburyport. “It’s quite the rivalry, along with (No. 2) Hamilton-Wenham).”
The Pentucket boys soccer team is ranked No. 1 in the Eastern Mass. Division 2 North tournament after posting a 14-2-2 regular-season record.
Second-seed North Andover (14-2-2) tied Pentucket for regular-season winning percentage; the Sachems won a coin flip at MIAA headquarters yesterday.
“I feel a little more pressure on us,” said Pentucket coach Christian Langlois, the CAL Division 1 Coach the Year. “I don’t want to go out early as the No. 1 seed. I don’t want to make it look like that seed is wrong. Looking at Division 2 North, there’s not a bad team in there.”
Pentucket will open Sunday (5 p.m.) at Haverhill Stadium against the winner of the preliminary-round matchup between No. 16 Dracut and No. 17 Northeast Regional. The Sachems could face No. 8 Lynn Classical in the quarterfinal in a rematch of last year’s opening-round matchup. Last fall, No. 9 Pentucket beat No. 8 Lynn Classical 3-2 in overtime to advance to the quarterfinal.
“I can’t say it’s an easy road to the semifinals,” Langlois said. “We’ll face teams with plenty of tournament experience right off the bat.”
The Sachems’ continued success over a three-year stretch is all the more impressive considering the team has graduated its top goal-scorer each of the last three seasons.
Josh Croteau led the team in 2010, Colin Macdonald in 2011, and Matt Farrell this season. Farrell, Cody Sedler and Zack Chapman earned All-CAL honors this season.
The Newburyport boys soccer team will make the longest commute among local teams to its first-round game. The 10th-seeded Clippers (9-6-2) will visit seventh-seed Tech Boston at the Fens Sunday at 10 a.m.
Both the Georgetown boys and girls soccer teams qualified for the Division 3 North tournament.
The girls team, seeded No. 16, will host a preliminary-round game against No. 17 Weston tomorrow at West Street Field. The boys team, seeded No. 11, will play at No. 6 Wakefield Saturday at 6:30 p.m.