For Peabody’s Digiacomo sisters, Victoria and twin Kara, the bad news for opponents was that the two girls got a soccer ball as a gift when they were just about five years old.
North Shore soccer opponents already knew about their older sister Erika Digiacomo, a member of the 100-point club at Peabody High, Victoria joined that elite group in September when she banged home two goals against Lynn Classical.
While Victoria got a slight head start -- born one minute before her sister -- Kara has equally established herself as one of the top players around. Just last week Kara received MVP honors this year for the North section of the Northeastern Conference.
Both sisters were also named to the NEC North Girls' All-Star Team.
“I just like having the play in front of me, watching it develop,” Kara said. “I really couldn’t have done any of this without my teammates.”
“I don’t know why I play offense and Kara plays defense, she likes to stop people from scoring and I like to score,” Victoria said. “One of the main reasons we won the title last year was because of Kara on defense.”
“I’m more in your face than Kara is, but we work well on the field and I will certainly miss being a part of the Peabody athletic community, it’s been awesome,” Victoria said -- she and her sister are seniors this year. “When I see little girls wearing Peabody soccer jerseys, it’s such a good feeling.”
“Being on the Peabody girls’ soccer team is unbelievable, there’s nothing better on a cold October night than to take the field in front of cheering fans in Peabody who love to watch us play; it’s just such a tough atmosphere for another team to come into,” Victoria said. “It is the best feeling in the world to take the field for a night game in Peabody.”
“Kara was the MVP of the NEC and she was also ranked the number one player in the league for the Eastern Mass All-Stars,” said coach Dennis Desroches, who has put in 12 years with the team, seven as head coach. “Kara...ever since she joined the team in her freshman year, she’s been a starting fullback for us; she’s been one of the best fullbacks we’ve ever had at Peabody High School.”
“As long as I’ve been around, there have been very few fullbacks who have her ability to play defensively, and she is also an extremely strong player on the offensive side of the ball,” Desroches said. “When we transition from defense to offense, so much of the play goes through Kara.”
He said that along with the Digiacomo sisters, there's of course super scorer fellow senior Hayley Dowd, who's played all four years as well, amid a highly talented squad. “It’s such an incredible group," he said. Dowd, in fact, just joined the 200-point club last month.
"Kara, who’s paired with Cayla Bucci is, to me, the best fullback tandem in the state," Desroches said.
The Peabody girls’ team took the state title last season, and is pumping their way towards another state title in 2012. The Tanners will host the winner of Saturday's contest between Acton-Boxborough and Billerica on Sunday at home (6 p.m.)
“If I spent the entire day, I couldn’t put into words what it was like to win the state soccer championship last year,” Victoria said. “We know what it takes to win and I know this team, this year, can do it again; I can’t wait for the playoffs to start.”
She said she saw the potential her team had from the first day of practice last season, and she and her teammates are ready to repeat. “This team has put in the work and I know we can be state champs again.”
“We won the title for our team last year, but we also won it for our coaches, our school and our community,” Victoria said. “Our friends, our fans, our families, so many people came out and supported our team last year and we absolutely want to do it again, for sure.”
“My sister and I are both two of the captains on this year’s team and we’ve been playing since we were little, starting in the backyard, Victoria said.
"We’ve always played soccer together and we were part of a team called Peabody Hot Shots (in youth soccer) -- most of those girls play for Peabody High now -- and we won the state championship three times back then,” she said.
“Our team has always been pretty good and it’s a great bunch of girls on this team,” Victoria said.
“Soccer is so much fun to play, and requires so much skill to play well, and it’s a physical game, which I really like,” she said. “I forget about everything when I play soccer, the fans are great, the coaches are great, I love my teammates.”
Desroches has nothing but praise for the sisters, who recently turned 18. Victoria, a forward, will be heading off to college next fall at the College of St. Rose, in Albany, N.Y. The Golden Knights' soccer team won the national Division II title in 2011.
“I’m excited to go to college, but I love being an athlete at Peabody High right now,” she said, noting that she's played basketbal and lacrosse as well for the Tanners.
Victoria said her biggest influence is her older sister Erika, a four-year starter at Peabody High.
“She (Erika) graduated when I was a freshman and I took her jersey number (13) to honor her. She was a forward just like me and she was my inspiration; she scored 148 points for Peabody High,” Victoria said.