NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Sports

October 15, 2013

Triton soccer team overcomes strife, starts winning

If conflict is drama, then the Triton boys soccer team could start a theater troop.

“We know that bad taste that is left in your mouth when you have a bad season,” said Vikings senior co-captain and goalkeeper Dalton Tzitzon. “Now we’re ready to move past it.”

After going a combined 5-27-4 in 2011 and 2012, the Vikings started the current season 1-2, but more importantly, they weren’t gelling. Not in the least.

“We were fighting a lot,” said senior striker Jake Papanicolaou.

Egos were clashing and not everyone was where they thought they should be. Papanicolaou was playing midfield while his talents lay upfront. Meanwhile, Vikings coach Brad Smith was trying to get his players to buy into his system.

“Everyone has got to accept their role,” said Smith. “They may not like it. It may not be the position they wanted to play, but (they have to) put (their) egos aside. It’s been a process. It didn’t come easy, believe me.”

After taking a 2-1 loss to Pentucket on Sept. 17, the Vikes headed toward a home game against rival Newburyport two nights later looking like nothing was going to change. Then it did, big time.

“I won’t forget that game. It was epic,” said Papanicolaou, who moved up front that night, scoring two goals to sink the Clippers 3-2. “It was crazy. We just came together as a group. That win solidified what we knew was going on this season.”

The Vikings have gone a startling 7-1-1 since, losing only to Rockport and tying Georgetown along the way.

“After Newburyport, everything seemed to turn itself around,” said Smith. “They all bought in and are enjoying themselves and having fun.”

“Our egos came together,” said Papanicolaou. “The fighting turned into more competitiveness. It wasn’t, ‘Who is better than who?’ It was everyone trying to get involved and get better.”

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