NEWTON – One moment the Newton North girls soccer team was battling Braintree up and down the field on a cool, dry fall afternoon on the Dickinson Stadium turf.
The next moment, the Tigers were completely drenched as a massive downpour enveloped the field and soaked every inch of the field, sideline and the players.
Through it all, they never missed a beat.
North was up 2-0 on a header goal from Lexi Gentile off a corner kick before the rain swept through the campus like a tidal wave, and went on to score three more goals – including a natural hat track from freshman Maia Kramer - after their collective trip through the dunk tank as they went on to a 5-1 victory Friday afternoon.
After the game, as the Braintree players shivered and glumly walked toward their bus, the Tigers were all smiles as they gleefully took part in a warm-down run across the puddle-filled turf while a double rainbow framed the school behind them.
“I loved that we stayed focused,” North coach Alicia Carrillo said. “It seemed to, instead of dousing our spirits, it seemed to uplift them. I think we were playing the rainbow before it actually happened. It was kind of cool to see them find a little joy in the rain.”
That joy was a welcomed sight for the Tigers on the sideline after two tough seasons under Carrillo. Just four years removed from a state championship, North came into this fall having missed the state tournament three straight years.
North improved to 3-2 this season with Friday’s victory.
“We’ve been working on team culture quite a bit,” Carrillo said. “Coming in new to the program two years ago, it took awhile just to get a feel for what was there and awhile to articulate expectations. I think our coaching staff has worked hard this year to articulate culture goals.
“We’re really trying to bring Tiger Pride back. It’s been an emphasis. The girls have been on board. They’ve done the work. The coaches have done the talking and the girls have done the working.”
That work started in the first half as the Tigers played the Wamps mostly even before Kramer banged home the first score. The teams hit the half tied before North took off in the final 40 minutes.
Gentile knocked in a header for the second goal on a corner kick, then during the downpour that lasted most of the rest of the game, Kramer made it 3-0 with her second goal.
Braintree was able to get one back when a corner kick took an odd skid through a puddle in front of the North net, but the Tigers came back for the final two goals with Kramer scoring her third and Ariana Bunch finishing the scoring in the final minutes.
The third victory in the first two weeks of the season positions the Tigers well ahead of last year when they stumbled through a winless first half of the season before showing some promise late in the fall.
“We finished strong at the end,” Carrillo said. “It’s always great to be better tomorrow than you were yesterday. That’s a big theme for us. I think it did carry over (to this year).
“Even today, it was all about being better in the second half than in the first half. We did a better job finishing in the second half today.”
Scott Souza can be reached at email@example.com.