BEVERLY — Caitin Harty isn’t the reigning Player of the Year in Northeastern Conference girls soccer and owner of 94 goals over the last two seasons because she can’t handle a little adversity.
So after being marked, followed, bumped, bruised and generally harassed by a bevy of North Andover defenders yesterday afternoon, it seemed fitting that the favorite of Harty’s three goals was her final score, coming with a minute to play.
“I was struggling in the second half, to finally find my feet and put the ball in was a good feeling,” smiled Harty, a senior captain whose trio of tallies powered second-seeded Beverly High past the Scarlet Knights, 3-1, in a Division 2 North first round playoff game.
Beverly avenged one of its only two losses this season by taking the lead less than seven minutes in and never trailing thereafter. While the visitors had stretches where they controlled play in the first half, it was the Panthers’ resiliency and skill that won out.
“This shows how far we’ve come in a few weeks since we last played them,” said the Holy Cross-bound Harty. “It was a hump we had to get over.”
Now 15-2-3 on the season, Beverly will host Woburn (a 7-0 winner over O’Bryant yesterday) in the North quarterfinals tomorrow at 2 p.m. The 10th seeded Tanners are 11-5-3.
A year removed from reaching the Division 1 North final and with many of their top players back, the Panthers have rightfully set their sights high again this November.
“We have more talent this year, more focus and energy,” senior captain Casey Cook said. “Even though there’s more pressure on us (this season), I think we can handle the pressure.”
Since head coach Kristin Simpson altered the Beverly lineup by putting Cook up front with Harty (”we’ve been playing together since we were 8 years old,” said Cook), moving Syracuse commit Eva Gourdeau back to midfield and freshman standout Kadrianna ‘Kage’ Letts from center back to outside back, there’s been more team cohesion and symmetry.