LYNNFIELD — Lynnfield girls soccer coach Mark Vermont is no stranger to big games. Now in his 19th season coaching the Pioneers, Vermont has guided the team to two state championships, three sectional championships and three appearances in the state final as well as eight Cape Ann League titles.
Friday afternoon at Veteran’s Field in Ipswich, Vermont added another accolade to his resume with the 250th victory of his Lynnfield career, thanks to a 2-1 road win over Ipswich.
Vermont waited until the team bus had left the field to inform his players of his milestone win.
“It’s sportsmanship, you just don’t celebrate anything on somebody else’s field,” said Vermont. “It was really pretty funny because I started by telling the girls how fortunate I have been to be part of such a great program, and then one of them just blurted out, ‘What, are you quitting?’ They were really excited, but, really, I just coach them. The kids are the ones who play the games and ultimately get the wins.
“It certainly is a milestone and it makes me think back to all the kids over the years who have helped get to this level. My message to the team on the bus was that they are now a part of these 250 wins.”
When Vermont arrived in Lynnfield in 2001 as Art McManus’ successor, he was already well versed in knowing what it takes to build a winning tradition, having won back-to-back state titles (1997, 1998) as an assistant at Winchester High under head coach Chris Scanlon.
He coached five seasons at Winchester before learning the Lynnfield job was open.
“I don’t remember how I heard about it, but I had an interview with Bill Adams and Steve McBride and was offered the job,” said Vermont, who has been a fifth-grade teacher at the Lynnfield Middle School since 2007.
He hit the ground running his first year, guiding the Pioneers to a 14-6-2 record and made it all the way to the North sectional final.
“I think that was the first time in a very long time that Lynnfield reached the finals,” Vermont said. “Being new, I am sure the kids had to adjust to my style, so it took time. I mean, they weren’t used to the fitness test I make them run at tryouts, and I am sure they didn’t like it. But I didn’t care as they were going to do it, like it or not.
“I knew I couldn’t do it all at once, but reaching the North final that first year I think helped my credibility in that it showed them that maybe I really do know what I am talking about.”
Two years later in 2003, the Pioneers hit the jackpot. They finished with a final record of 23-1 and won the state championship, defeating Douglas 2-0. The following year, Lynnfield went undefeated at 22-0-2, the final tie coming in the state championship final against Sutton when the teams battled through a blinding rainstorm to a 1-1 tie. Both teams were declared co-champions.
The Pioneers have missed qualifying for the tournament just once in 18 seasons. That year was 2012 when Lynnfield finished 6-8-4.
Vermont said the key to his success is two-fold.
“Coming from Winchester I saw firsthand how important it was to have team chemistry,” he said. “Chris and the girls had such a strong bond so I was able to see how he organized things to develop that bond. I took it and ran with it at Lynnfield. I think a combination of that as well as my rah-rah personality has allowed girls soccer to have the identity, the I-have-your-back mentality on and off the field that it does.
“One of the first things I did was use goal sheets before every game so the players know what they have to do,” Vermont said. “I think that also encourages the camaraderie and commitment.”
Vermont also said there is no substitute for a solid work ethic.
“A huge piece of the puzzle also, no doubt, is the fact that we work very, very hard,” said Vermont, a 1996 graduate of Gordon College where he was a goalkeeper. “It starts every year with the fitness test. The kids know that.”