“We always seem to have jitters and you could tell in the first 15 minutes we were panicking a little,” said Beverly coach Kristin Simpson. “In the second half we settled down and we gained momentum.”
The Panthers were playing without one of their captains, Kristen O’Connor, who is day-to-day with an injury. Fellow captain Diandra Crowely (who had several important plays on defense) handled the free and direct kicks, and junior Meghan Birking impressed filling in the middle (as did Caitlyn Munzing).
“The thing we can really take out of this is that a lot of people stepped up to fill that spot and I was really happy to see that,” said Simpson.
Led by senior Madison Doherty, the Tanners controlled play at the outset. The Providence-bound midfielder used her speed to break in on the wing on several occasions and if not for a few nice saves by Wolonsavich and the defense of Crowley, freshman Kadrianna Letts and Sarah Visnick, she certainly would’ve given her team an early lead.
“Madison is attacking more this year and you’re also seeing her come back 15-20 yards defensively. She’s relentless,” said Desroches. “I thought Caroline Colbert did the same thing and our youth showed on our scoring opportunities. Over the course of the year, we’re going to put some of those away and it takes games like this to gain confidence.”
Peabody’s Lodi made six saves in all and Wolonsavich totaled 12 stops.
The Tanners, who have not lost in NEC play since Oct. 21, 2010, have a half-game lead because they beat Lynn Classical, a team Beverly tied. It’s likely the league title will come down to the Tanners/Panthers rematch scheduled for Oct. 25 at Beverly High.