LYNN — Maybe it really is the year of the Panther.
Beverly scored on all four of its penalty kick attempts to beat Central Catholic, 2-1, and claim the program’s first Division 1 North championship here at Manning Field yesterday.
The Panthers (18-3) overcame a 1-0 hole with Caitlin Harty’s 50th goal of the season and hung on defensively with junior keeper Casey Cook coming up with 19 saves.
“This is amazing. This all came from the heart today,” said senior captain Becca Kemmer, holding the North trophy as she iced and unwrapped her injured wrist. Kemmer embodied the one-for-all approach of these Panthers, playing with a cast on her wrist.
Beverly will play unbeaten Franklin (20-0-1) Wednesday at Manning Field (5:30 p.m.) for the right to advance to the D1 state final.
For 100 minutes, previously unbeaten Central Catholic (15-1-4) forced the Panthers to defend the entire field. There were plenty of close calls, with Cook robbing Maggie Carey in the first overtime and Aly Spencer hitting the post in the second OT.
“In terms of technical play, they might have been the better team,” said Beverly coach Kristin Simpson. “But like I told the girls, when you get this far, it’s about who wants it more.”
Harty nearly won it with a breakaway saved by Central’s Lauren Flynn late in the second OT. The Panthers played better in the second of the two 10-minute sudden death frames because they had the wind.
In PKs, Harty, Eva Gourdeau and Kristen O’Connor all scored to put Beverly ahead while Central’s Carey and Spencer missed wide. Diandra Crowley then stepped up and driller her shot into the net as Beverly won the shootout, 4-1.
“I didn’t know we could win on my kick, I was so focused and so nervous,” said Crowley, a junior captain. “After I scored I saw my team rushing at me and it hit me that we’d won. What a feeling.”