Cape Ann isn’t known for its soccer prowess.
With no state championships from Gloucester, Manchester Essex or Rockport -- and only one sectional title from the Rockport boys in 2010 -- soccer isn’t exactly the sport that pops into people’s heads when discussing an area rich in athletic success.
But that lack of soccer tradition shouldn’t downplay the advances made in the area over the last decade, including this season. With the boys teams from Rockport and Manchester Essex being joined in the state tournament by the girls from Gloucester, local teams made a push this fall to get their names on the map.
As usual, the group was led by Rockport. Under the guidance of long-time coach Dave Curley, the experience of the Vikings shone through en route to a CAL Small title.
Behind the play of CAL Small Player of the Year Conor Douglass, CAL all-stars Tucker Meredith, Matt Rostowski and Shaun Aspesi and a nine-man senior class, Rockport strung together an impressive 14-5-2 in the strong CAL.
While Curley admitted that a late-season letdown (relatively speaking, as Curley was referring to a loss and a tie over the final three regular season games) may have hurt their tournament seeding, that was all behind them when they took the field in the Division 3 North first round as the No. 5 seed.
They survived a phenomenal game in the first round against CAL foe North Reading, a hard-fought match decided by a beautiful goal by Meredith off a feed from Aspesi.
That 1-0 win earned them a quarterfinal matchup with host St. Mary’s. Behind a stellar defensive performance and a nifty pass from Aspesi to Douglass to set up the game’s lone goal, the Vikings moved on to the North semifinals for the fourth consecutive year.