They may have taken different routes to get there, but when the Division 3 North boys soccer tournament opens up tomorrow, both Rockport and Manchester Essex will be in the mix.
After an impressive 12-4-2 regular season and a CAL Small title, the Vikings earned the No. 5 seed and a first-round bye. They’ll open up Sunday at home (6:00) against the winner of No. 12 North Reading and No. 21 Mystic Valley.
Down the road, the Hornets faced a far tougher climb to earn the program’s second-ever trip to the state tournament.
After an up-and-down season, Manchester Essex entered its final four games at 4-7-1. But from there, the Hornets turned it on, beating Ipswich, Rockport and Whittier Tech while playing to a draw with Georgetown to punch their ticket with a 3-0-1 final week of the season.
The Hornets drew the No. 16 seed and will host No. 17 Maimonides, a Jewish school located in Brookline, in the preliminary round tomorrow at Hyland Field (1:30) in what will be their first tournament appearance since 2006.
The winner of that matchup will move on to face top-seeded Boston International on Sunday. No. 8 Weston and No. 9 Cristo Rey round out the Hornets’ corner of the bracket, the winner of which will face the survivor of Boston International, Manchester Essex and Maimonides.
While Manchester Essex may not have any tournament experience on its current roster, the gauntlet of the Cape Ann League has coach Rob Bilsbury feeling confident.
“One thing that we do know is that playing in the Cape Ann League gets you ready,” Bilsbury said. “A lot of the teams in the CAL do pretty well in the tournament and there’s just a nice balance of good competition in the league. When you venture out of it, you’re well-prepared for tournament play coming out of the Cape Ann League.”