Sitting together with friends in the cafeteria at Cardinal Spellman High School, Julia and Tina Schneider will often look up and, seemingly out of nowhere, burst into laughter.
The same scenario will play out at their home in Bridgewater when the two talk with their parents, Carol and Steve.
“Our group of friends get so annoyed,” Julia said. “Everyone’s like, ‘Wait, nothing was said, I want to know what’s funny.’
“They give up and say, ‘It’s a twin thing.’ ”
The 17-year-old juniors at the Catholic school in Brockton share the same mental wavelength on the soccer pitch too, where they have been three-year varsity starters, Julia as goalie and Tina as midfielder/stopper.
Ten minutes into Monday’s game against Brockton High, the 5-foot-7 Tina was in a race with a Brockton attacker closing in on her sister. Julia, a 5-foot-5 vocal presence in net, screamed “pressure, pressure.”
Her sister acted accordingly, sweeping the ball to safety with her right leg.
The team, led by coach Mike Perry, held on for a 1-0 shutout, finishing the regular season with a stellar 14-1-2 mark.
The Cardinals perennially qualify for the playoffs, but the journey this fall hasn’t been without setbacks. Nursing a back injury (pinched nerve), Julia missed the first five games of the season.
Captains Siobhan O’Connell and Mickayla Roan also went down, both suffering ankle injuries, leaving the squad minus a senior presence on the field for weeks.
“The whole team knew they had to step up a little bit,” Perry said. “The losses of players were for like three, four weeks at a time. So, many of the girls ended up having to play out of position. I’ve been lucky the chemistry has been good.”
The players, according to Perry, have taken turns hosting spaghetti dinner parties at their houses, which has helped team bonding. He added that a winning tradition has been “passed on from one class to the next.”
Spellman won the Division 2 state championship in 2009, and reached the finals three years prior, when it fell in sudden death.
Roan’s sister, Emily, a sophomore, has emerged as the scoring leader with 10 goals and 14 assists this season. But Tina Schneider has played a major part in facilitating the offense after moving from right midfielder to center.
“It’s a hard position and she does great at it,” said Roan, a former outside midfielder. “Just the whole going forward and going back, you have to work the offense and help with the defense. I think that’s more difficult.”
Roan, also a Bridgewater resident, played with the Schneider sisters on the town’s youth travel team growing up. She now suits up for Hingham’s South Shore Select club, while the twins play for the Acton-based F.C. Stars.
Roan said Tina Schneider’s mix of power and finesse are invaluable assets to controlling the pace of a game.
“I like moving the ball around,” Schneider said. “I like using my head. I’m good in the air. You need to make sure you win the ball in the air and get the ball out quick. You don’t have time for a lot of touches.”
She said she models her game after Carli Lloyd, a center midfielder for the US women’s national team, because she is “dynamic” and “thinks before she plays.”
Tina, younger than Julia by two hours and 10 minutes, said she didn’t hit her stride this fall until the East Bridgewater game on Sept. 20, when her sister made her season debut. She felt that keeper Amelia Burke had played well, but the communication between the two was different.
“I could trust the other goalie, but not like I can trust my sister,” she said.
Julia also admires an Olympian, US goalie Hope Solo. They had a brief encounter when she served as a ball girl for an international friendly against South Korea at Gillette Stadium in June.
Tina is considering Division 1 and Division 3 collegiate programs, but Julia has her heart set on a Division 1 school. She doesn’t have any clear favorites or ideal locations yet.
Her ultimate goal would be to make the US Olympic team. But her focus now is in the state tournament. Spellman, with the top seeding in the MIAA’s Division 3 South sectional, which host a quarterfinal Monday at 4 p.m., playing the winner of Saturday’s meeting between Old Rochester Regional and Coyle & Cassidy High.
“I have the kind of personality where you’re never really satisfied with yourself,” Julia said. “I think that’s a goalkeeper thing.’’
Tournament teams to watch
Coach Liz Lima has led Hingham’s Notre Dame Academy to the postseason in each of her seven seasons.
Senior captain Gabby Kenyon powers the 16-2 squad, and netted all four goals in a recent shutout of Hingham.
“If she’s got one player to beat, she’s pretty dangerous,” Lima said. “She can take a player on 1-on-1, she’s got speed, size, she’s smart, understands the game well, and is pretty much an all-around threat to any defense.”
The Patriot League’s Keenan Division juggernaut, after tying its first game against Weymouth, takes a 17-game unbeaten streak — including 10 shutouts — into the playoffs.
A pair of seniors, striker Paul Beatty (28 goals, 8 assists) and center back Sean Hurlburt (12 goals, 13 assists), have spearheaded an attack that has overpowered foes (80-9 goal differential).
The 12-4-2 Boxers split their last two games, but that followed a five-game winning streak, including a 2-0 win over New Bedford, top-ranked by the Globe at the time.
Senior forward Kevin Fortes, the team’s scoring leader, will be tough to stop in the postseason after terrorizing opposing defenses all year with his well-placed touches and scoring ability.
Hockomock League MVP Dave Stapleton, a senior utility player at sweeper, outside back and midfield, has followed through on the expectations of coach John Barata — he is the leading goal scorer (10), along with contributing six assists, for Oliver Ames. His best friend, senior Chris Goncalves , is close behind (seven goals), but has a team-leading 18 points.
Sparked by freshman Mackenzie Vlachos , East Bridgewater has been a steady force in the South Shore League with a 14-2-1 mark in the regular season. But Norwell has been close behind.
Freshman Grace Connerty, junior Emma Basso (both tied with 16 points), and sophomore Stephanie Croke (14 points) are within the top 12 in league scoring, and helped Norwell beat East Bridgewater, 1-0, late in the season.Peter Cappiello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @petecapps.