When Gloucester girls head soccer coach Alex White first learned of her team's state tournament seed on Wednesday, Gloucester was originally the No. 16 seed in Division 2 North and scheduled to play No. 17 Arlington Catholic on Friday.
But an error changed all of that. Gloucester was incorrectly listed with a record of 8-7-3, its record stands at 8-6-3. The error was fixed and Gloucester moved up to the No. 15 seed, swapping spots with Swampscott, who moved down to the No. 16 seed. Gloucester will now square off with No. 18 Melrose Friday at Gordon College (3:00 p.m.) in the Division 2 North preliminary round.
Whether it was Melrose or Arlington Catholic, Gloucester will be meeting an unfamiliar opponent, and that's just the way White wants it.
"It's definitely harder to play a team you've already seen once or twice," White said. "We don't know much about Melrose but they don't know much about us either. We don't want to play a familiar team, especially with Danvers, Swampscott and Marblehead in the tournament too, we know everything about each other. We will do a little research on Melrose and put a game plan together. It's a new season now and the team knows anything can happen."
The winner of Friday's clash will move on to the Division 2 North First round, where it will travel to No. 2 seed Hamilton-Wenham on Sunday (2:00 p.m.) in the Division 2 North first round.
Gloucester enters the tournament playing its best soccer of the year finishing the regular season with an 8-2-1 record after starting the year 0-4-2. The Fishermen had a lot of holes to fill as they were hit hard by graduation from a 2011 team that had the most successful season in the program's history, making it all the way to the sectional semi finals, the first Gloucester soccer team to qualify for a sectional semi final.
Once Gloucester found the right players to fill in those holes it took off. Over the final 11 games the only blemishes on Gloucester's record came at the hands of NEC Large champion and defending Division 1 state champ Peabody, and NEC Small champion Danvers.
"We are peeking at the right time," White said. "Hopefully we can carry some momentum we built at the end of the regular season into the tournament. We put together some good bits of soccer down the stretch and I'm looking forward to see how we do."
White says Gloucester will need to pick up the consistency if it wants to make a state tournament run. Consistency has been a bit of an issue for Gloucester this season but the team has proved that it can play with anybody in Division 2 when playing its best.
Gloucester also has another ace in the hole, its tournament experience. White has lauded her teams senior leadership as this years senior class has now made the state tournament for the fourth straight season, posting a 2-3 record over the last three years.
The Fishermen enter the tournament led by All Star captains Bianca Giacalone, Kali Cook and Elle Wierbicky along with All Stars Katie Ciaramitaro and Melodie Orrell. All five have plenty of state tournament experience and all know what it takes to make a strong postseason run.
"We have great senior leadership and our upperclassmen know what it takes," White said. "I think that's an advantage over other teams in the tournament."