Massapequa Park in Nassau County, New York, boasts the first family of U.S. women's soccer – a four-pronged sisterhood of success called the DiMartinos.
Christina, Gina, Vicki and Rosie DiMartino are a collection of energetic and precociously talented sisters who have spread their wings from the bedroom that all four shared in the family home to star on soccer fields around the world.
On Sunday in New Zealand, third-oldest sister Vicki has a chance to bring home an Under-17 World Cup winners' medal when the U.S. takes on North Korea in the championship game.
Vicki has been the star of the tournament so far, firing in five goals in as many games heading into the showdown in Auckland. Just as impressive as the goal scoring has been her tenacity and spirit, hardly a surprise for someone who comes from a family where failure is not an option.
Heading the DiMartino quartet is oldest sister Christina, a midfield dynamo who has appeared once for the senior national team and is currently in outstanding form for the UCLA Bruins, the nation's third-ranked college team. Christina also took part in the 2006 Under-20 World Cup in Russia, where the U.S. lost the third-place game to Brazil on penalty kicks.
Gina, 19, plays in attack for 10th-ranked Boston College and will be part of the U.S. team that travels to Chile this month for the latest edition of the U-20 Women's World Cup. She will be joined on the Eagles squad next year by Vicki, whose promise was recognized before her big breakthrough in New Zealand.
Back home is youngest sister Rosie, a 13-year-old rising star with similarly big dreams. Her hunger to succeed no doubt is hardened by witnessing the achievements of her older sisters.
"Coming from a family with great players is a big help," Vicki DiMartino said in a telephone interview with Yahoo! Sports from New Zealand on Thursday.
"We are very competitive in everything we do, and it makes you stronger. We know we can always rely on each other, though, and we are very close in soccer and in life."
In New Zealand, DiMartino took just three minutes to open her scoring account in the U.S.'s opener against Japan, a contest that ended in a disappointing defeat. She struck again against Paraguay and once more in the crucial 1-1 tie with France that sealed a place in the quarterfinals.
The United States really started to hit its stride in the knockout stage, powering past South Korea 4-2 before upsetting a strong and favored Germany in the semifinal. Head coach Kaz Tambi spoke of how DiMartino's strength of character has shone through at key stages of the Americans' run to the final.
"We have had some difficult times in the tournament, and she has been gigantic for us," Tambi said of DiMartino, a strong contender for top player honors in New Zealand. "In big tournaments like this you need people who stand up to be counted, and she has done that."
Perhaps that is a product of the ferocious games of backyard two-on-two the sisters still play when they all are in New York.
"It gets pretty rough and physical," DiMartino said. "No one holds back. Sometimes our dad has to break it up, but I can't complain. It makes us all stronger and more determined to win."
- New Zealand