East Lyme - They play as if they grew up together on the soccer field, working as a tight-knit group to control the action.
These East Lyme soccer sisters, especially the nine seniors on the roster, basically did start out learning the sport at the same time, when oversized jerseys hung down to their knees.
Their family-like bond is behind the high school program's most successful season in 10 years.
With a 3-0 win over Norwich Free Academy on Friday night at Bridebrook Park, East Lyme clinched its first Eastern Connecticut Conference Large Division title since 2002 and kept its hopes of an unbeaten regular season alive.
"It's exciting," senior Madison Horner said. "We're a close team."
The Vikings (13-0-2, 6-0-2) scored three second-half goals to shake the stubborn, undermanned Wildcats (8-4-3, 4-3-2).
"They're solid, from front to back and from side to side," NFA coach Steve Brunetti said. "They're a good team. ...We tried our best. We're not a full team because we've lost (three) key players to injuries. But that's not an excuse."
In the end, East Lyme's superior talent and experience took over.
According to coach Rachel Redding, her team's effort has never wavered since the first day of practice.
"I knew I had a team with heart and soul," Redding said. "These girls work hard every single day. They're just an amazing group of girls, and they have great chemistry and great senior leadership."
The Vikings needed a little verbal push from Redding at halftime to start playing their lethal brand of possession soccer.
Senior Jaimee Szupiany picked a good time to score her first career goal, pouncing on a rebound and knocking it home about two minutes into the second half.
"I felt like crying I was so happy," Szupiany said.
The Vikings beautifully worked combinations, leading to prime scoring chances.
When NFA failed to clear a ball in the box, opportunistic sophomore Samantha Lee fired a low hard shot into the right corner for a 2-0 lead with roughly 19 minutes left.
East Lyme put the cherry on top in the closing minutes when junior Meredith Moore made a strong run and headed home Lee's well-placed free kick.
An alert, aggressive defense continually squashed NFA's scoring chances. Horner, who seemed to win every 50-50 ball, made the stop of the game, racing back to block the shot of the always dangerous Megan Gada.
"Sacrifice your body," Horner explained about the hustle play. "Put it all out there in our last game here."
Senior goalie Allison Stoddard was in perfect position all game, making four saves to earn the shutout.
The victory came in the final regular season home game for the Vikings, who held a rather subdued postgame celebration.
They're not satisfied with just winning a Large Division championship. The next step is to finish the regular season undefeated, something this group of seniors accomplished when they were on the freshmen team, going 13-0-1.
"It's a big deal," Horner said of finishing undefeated.
The two teams meet again today in Norwich. A rainout earlier this season led to them playing on consecutive days.
It will give these East Lyme soccer sisters another chance to play together.