PEABODY — It was Senior Night at Donahue Field last night ... and the Peabody High girls soccer team made sure the celebration lasted even after the game was over.
The Tanners clinched at least a share of yet another Northeastern Conference championship after defeating Salem, 4-1. They can win it outright by winning at Beverly tomorrow (4 p.m.) in a huge game for both teams.
At times this season the Tanners (12-1-3 overall, 12-0-2 NEC) have struggled to score, but that wasn’t a problem against Salem. After falling behind, 1-0, they answered with two goals in the first half and a pair in the second.
Senior captain Madison Doherty sparked the offense with three goals, marking her third hat trick of the season. Teammate Erika Nelson added a goal and three assists.
“We had a bit of a slow start, but credit that to Salem,” said head coach Dennis Desroches. “They’re a very aggressive team that put pressure on us early. There was a mishandled ball in front of our goal and they put it away.”
Caitlin Lodi came out of the Peabody net to separate Salem standout Alix Bryant from the ball, but Deema Hijleh pounced on it and booted a low shot into the net for the Witches’ only goal.
The lead didn’t last long, though, as Doherty used her speed on a breakaway and beat Salem goalie Jaclyn Panneton after taking a long pass from Nelson, making it 1-1.
Seven minutes later that combination clicked again as Doherty blasted a shot into the right corner of the net past freshman Sydney Rocheville (who took over when Panneton was injured). Salem was already missing regular goalie Ariana Gaffney.
“Doherty was fantastic,” said Salem coach Fred Day, his team now 9-7-1 overall (7-6-1 NEC), with a big game against Lynn Classical at Salem State tomorrow (7:30 p.m.). “She has such great speed, and all three were nice goals. We’re pretty fast on defense, especially our sweeper Hayley Jellison, but Doherty was too quick.”