By Jean DePlacido
---- — PEABODY — Joanna Ambeliotis only played for a couple of minutes, but was a key factor in Peabody’s 8-5 victory over Beverly. Ambeliotis took over in the goal at the 18:34 mark of the first half with the game tied at 1-1 after Cheyenne Jackson was given a two minute penalty. That left the Tanners short-handed and without their starting goalie.
But Ambeliotis was equal to the task, making a couple of terrific saves, and the Tanners scored a short-handed goal to take the lead. Mikayla York set up Courtney Smith for the first of her three goals of the afternoon as Peabody worked the transition game to perfection. Beverly’s Camden Vitale managed to tie it up before Jackson returned, but Ambeliotis was outstanding in limiting the damage.
“This was a huge win for us against an awesome Beverly team,” said Peabody coach Dennis Desroches after his team improved to 7-3 and beat the Panthers for the second time this season. “Ambeliotis stepped in and made a couple of huge saves to keep the game close, and that was a big goal by Smith.
“I’m very happy with the full 50 minute effort all the girls put in today. Beverly likes to sit in a zone, and we didn’t want them to be able to slow the game down. We had to move the ball and execute. Our defense did a terrific job holding them to only five goals, and Jackson had an incredible game with some huge saves (10). Whenever we play Beverly we know it’s going to be a very close game.”
The score was tied four times in the first half, but the Tanners began to take charge in the late going. They knotted it at 4-4 with just over five minutes left on a goal by Bianca Muscato, and then Smith was set up by Christa Trombley to put them ahead for good.
Muscato scored on a free position shot early in the second half to increase Peabody’s lead to 6-4, but Beverly’s Meghan Henrichon answered to close the gap to one with 11 minutes remaining.
The Tanners responded with two in a row to put the game out of reach. Smith notched the hat trick with a wicked free possession shot just over a minute later, and Aly Bortone added a late insurance tally.
“It was a back and forth game, and we were trying really hard but never had momentum,” said Beverly coach Alyson Healy after her team fell to 5-5. “Not to take anything away from Peabody, but we beat ourselves in a lot of ways.”
Panther goalie Ami Thompson, who played in the first half, made several outstanding stops to keep her team close. She made a diving stop on Trombley and turned aside a shot by Nicole Napolitano just before the horn sounded to end the half.
Grace Oh, Katie Ball, and Abbey Carnevale scored for Beverly while Vitale had a goal and an assist. For the Tanners Nicole Napolitano and Sarah Napolitano each had one goal.
Peabody is battling some injuries. Victoria Digiacomo, who is such a vital part of the defense, sprained her ankle in the game against Newton South and is in a boot as a precaution. She is expected to return early next week. Madison Doherty suffered a hand injury in the first half and didn’t return. Desroches praised Courtney Hennigan and Sydney Cooke for stepping in to help out.