MARBLEHEAD — It’s a good thing the Danvers girls soccer team started working on penalty kicks on day one of the regular season because it a paid off in enormous fashion during yesterday’s Division 2 North first round 2-1 victory over Northeastern Conference foe Marblehead.
After tying things up with under five minutes to play, the Falcons (12-6-1) managed to force two overtime periods and notched all four of their penalty kicks to earn the win.
“You hate that both teams can’t go on because it’s such a battle out there,” said Danvers head coach Jimmy Hinchion, whose team will take top seeded Wilmington on Monday for a quarterfinals matchup.
“We’ve looked really mentally sharp in practice and everything we’ve down outside of practice, but I think we got rattled pretty early on in the game.”
The ninth seeded Falcons played a little deflated in the first half as the host Magicians earned an early 1-0 advantage after leading scorer Mia Bongiorno notched the first tally of the game on a beautiful kick from 40 yards out.
Marblehead (12-5-2) controlled the play for the majority of the contest and limited Danvers to only three shots on net in the first half. Defenders Lucy Poulin and Kelly Mealey were all over the Falcons’ strikers and maintained a strong presence in front of keeper Lauren Unterborn.
“We didn’t play our style what so ever in the game,” Hinchion added. “I don’t think we strung three passes together at any point in the game. We kept saying that we had to settle and keep the ball on the ground —but we just did not.”
As time ticked away on the clock in the final half, Danvers’ need to score became more and more urgent. It was clear that Lady Falcons weren’t ready to go home this early in the tournament and they threw everything they had in Unterborn’s direction. Hinchion called a timeout with seven minutes left in the game and the girls were well aware of what needed to be done.
“It was just so emotional knowing we could’ve lost the game,” explained senior captain Kylie Plaza. “With that amount of time left, we all knew we needed to go really hard.”
Just two minutes later Danvers defender Cate Raftery took a free kick, after it was ruled that Marblehead played the ball with a hand. Raftery’s shot from 50-yards out somehow found Plaza in front of the net for the redirect to tie it 1-1.
“For Kylie to get that goal, it’s outstanding,” Hinchion noted. “She never stopped working. We were able to get a second chance and you don’t many of those in the tournament.”
Danvers outshot Marblehead 11-4 in the second half, and held the advantage in corner kicks during both overtime periods, 7-1.
With score still locked at 1-1 after both 10-minute overtimes, both teams selected five players to take the penalty kicks in the shootout.
After Danvers keeper Leah Ciampa stopped two out of the four Marblehead PKs, it all came down to the Falcons’ Emily Murphy’s kick. Danvers scored on all three of its prior attempts (Delaney Zecha, Nicole Belanger and Courtney Arnoldy) and Murphy’s attempt was no different.
“I think both sides were very resilient and we know each other very well,” said Marblehead head coach Andrew Bub. “I saw a lot of hear from both sides. For it to come down to PKs, it’s hard — but hats off to Danvers.”
This was the third meeting of the season between these two clubs. Danvers took both regular season games and won the NEC Small title, although Marblehead came into the tournament as the higher seed.
Danvers defender Becca Horn helped limit the Magicians to just one goal in regulation, while Arnoldy played a strong game in the midfield.