SALEM — With Bertram Field still under renovation, the Salem and Beverly boys soccer teams matched up yesterday at McGrath Park on a field that was smaller than the usual high school pitch.
The midfield was that much tighter, but nobody had a tougher afternoon than the goalies.
With through balls that got into the box that much quicker, Salem’s Christian Van De Stadt and Beverly’s Justin Carnavale had to come out and be a little more aggressive when clearing the ball out. Both guys paid a heavy price as the Panthers edged the Witches, 4-1 in the Northeastern Conference bout.
Towards the end of the first half with his team ahead 1-0, Carnavale went up to punch a ball out of the box with Brandon Mustufaraj bearing down on him. The clear was successful, but Carnavale was injured on the play. He finished the half and played some of the second half before the Panthers (2-1) extended their lead to 3-1 and he was pulled from the match.
Salem (0-2-1) suffered an own-goal before Graham Doherty buried a shot after a splendid through ball from Savio Polini to give the Panthers a two-goal lead. Carnavale made eight total saves including six in the first half.
“He (Carnavale) had to be aggressive. The field was short so the ball was coming right in and the goalies had to be brave,” said Beverly head coach Kevin Leahy. “They both (Carnavale and Van De Stadt) paid the price unfortunately.”
Like his counterpart, Van De Stadt suffered a game-ending injury when he went up in the air to clear a ball and collided with George Hillios. Van De Stadt Had already been in a tough collision in the first half on a similar play. The injury was just the latest in what’s been an extremely unlucky beginning of the season for head coach Michael Collins and the Witches.