Ever since she was 7 years old, Paige Bergman has taken the time to improve her soccer skills with her father. Night after night she worked with him, even after she had practiced with her high school or club team. And while not every practice session was filled with fun, it has become abundantly clear that the father-daughter time has paid major dividends.
Bergman has become one of the premiere goal scorers in South Jersey, netting a team-high 16 goals this year for the Triton Regional High School girls’ soccer team. She has scored goals in a variety of ways, with strikes coming from near and far. Some goals have been set up thanks to her breakaway speed, while others have come as the result of her array of on-the-ball moves.
And much of that is thanks to her father.
“I get mad at him all the time, but when I sit down and think about it, he is always out there, even with his bad knees,” Paige said of her father, Mark. “On rainy days, his knees are killing him and he still comes out and works with me.”
Bergman is modest about her success, heaping praise on the people who have helped her reach the level she is at today.
“Honestly, I don’t even credit myself,” Bergman said. “I credit my team. I credit my trainer. I credit Dad taking me out every single night to work on shots and work on my skills. I credit my coaches here and my club coaches. They all worked with me and made me better.”
Bergman opened the season with a three-goal, three-assist game against Gloucester Tech, and followed with a four-goal effort against Clearview. The Mustangs needed every one of those goals to salvage a 4-4 tie.
Her performance in the opening week put the rest of the Olympic Conference on notice. Bergman is now consistently going up against the other team’s best defender and sees frequent double teams. Yet, none of that has kept her from filling up the net.
“It’s been a lot of fun and my teammates have done a really good job around me,” she said.
Bergman’s play is one of the leading reasons the Mustangs enter play Wednesday 6-3-1 and in the thick of the Olympic Conference race and Group 4 playoff picture. She’s also the reason the team figures to stay there.
Last year Triton started hot, winning five of seven, but faded down the stretch to finish two games under .500. There are no indications that history will repeat itself.
“I feel like we worked harder and are more motivated to do better (this season),” Bergman said. “We have been doing real well. I love (my team).”
Bergman, who spent the weekend down in Virginia playing on a club team, said the team has lofty goals for the rest of the season.
“I want us to get in the playoffs and do well,” Bergman said. “I would love to see us get to the finals and make the Coaches Cup, and I would really love to see us win the conference.”
Prior to the season, those goals would seem quite a bit ambitious, to say the least. However, with Bergman’s scoring prowess, they now represent the new reality at Triton.