SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

October 9, 2013

Just for Kicks: Peabody girls laden with young talent in the backfield

Just For Kicks
Gianna Addario

---- — The Hayley Dowd era in Peabody officially ended last fall at the hands of Acton-Boxboro in the Division 1 state tournament. Since then, the Tanners have made significant strides to keep the program’s legacy going, even enlisting the help of few youngsters along the way this season.

Make no mistake about it, girls soccer is still every bit as strong in Peabody as its been in years past.

Since 2009, the Tanners have gone 63-1-4 in the league and are unbeaten in their last 40 Northeastern Conference games since losing to Danvers in October in 2010.

This year’s club stands at 7-1-2, with the only loss coming against Acton-Boxboro in the first game of the season. Peabody has since gone undefeated only to tie Beverly in scoreless outcome and Danvers last night. What’s more is that Tanners have given up just three goals all season long, by far the fewest in the NEC.

The remarkable statistic wouldn’t be possible without the leadership of all-star keeper Caitlin Lodi, who has seven shutouts on the season. Her vocal presence is a calming force in the backfield and for the pair of freshmen, Alexandria Demeo and Katherin Scacchi, who start on defense.

”We have a really talented group of freshen this year, so it’s not extremely difficult to direct them,” said Lodi after last night’s 1-1 tie to Danvers. “They get the game and they know how to play the game. I have a pretty young backline, but they know where to go and what to do.

”I think our defense is great. A lot of people were skeptical about it coming into the season, but all of the girls just work together so well. The chemistry between them has just been unbelievable.”

Demeo and Scacchi are joined in the backfield by senior defender and also see help from fellow starting freshmen Molly Tansey and Alyssa Shashaty in the midfield, along with sophomore Katrina Silva.

While other NEC foes like Danvers and Beverly returned the majority of their top players, Peabody is essentially an entirely new team with the exception of Lodi, Alex Lomasney, Madison Doherty and Caroline Colbert.

”The younger girls are playing beyond their years and I couldn’t be more proud,” said head coach Dennis Desroches. “It just bodes well for the future. It’s great to see them perform at this level and step up against top teams.

”It all starts with Lodi, she’s a great general out their. She puts them in the right position and we’re able to challenge most shots. We don’t want to give any team clean looks and Lodi helps with that.”

Currently, the Tanners sit at the top of the NEC Large just ahead of Beverly (8-1-2). While Peabody goes for its fifth consecutive league title this fall, it will most like come down to the last game of the season against the Panthers.

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Pingree’s girls are currently undefeated at 6-0 on the season and have some serious wins under their belts. The Highlanders avenged their only loss from last year against defending EIL champs Lexington Christian Academy with a 1-0 victory last week and beat Winsor for the first time ever.

The girls have made the best of a tough situation with a number of injuries to the club. The hardest to overcome was losing senior captain Kristina Caradonna to a season-ending ACL tear.

Senior captain and keeper Erin Cunningham has allowed just two goals in the first six matches. Kerri Zerfoss leads all scores with six goals and six assists, while Charlotte Esty and Lexi McNinch both have seven goals and one assist.

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Bishop Fenwick freshman Mikayla Pocaro has stepped in for starting keeper Merry Harrington, who suffered a concussion last week. Pocaro helped the Crusaders (5-4-5-) to a 0-0 tie against Arlington Catholic on Monday and will most likely get the nod again today at Austin Prep. Meanwhile, Harrington is expected to be back later on in the week.

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Masconomet senior captain Kaleigh White continues to tear up the pitch. In the last 10 games, White has recorded 13 goals and seven assists to lead the Chieftains to a 7-0-3 record.

White and her Masconomet club sit in second place in the Cape Ann League Large, behind Neburyport (10-0-1). Both teams played to a 1-1 tie earlier in the season and will battle it out again a week from Monday.

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Peabody boys are poised for a tournament spot at 7-0-3 to start the season. The Tanners had a chance to clinch a playoff berth on Monday against Gloucester, but after two late goals by the Fishermen led to a 2-2 tie. A win or a tie tonight against Danvers would qualify them for the postseason and continue their unbeaten streak.

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Just For Kicks, a column on North Shore high school soccer, appears every Wednesday in The Salem News. Contact staff writer Gianna Addario at 978-338-2615, GAddario@salemnews.com and follow her on Twitter @GiannaAddarioSN.