The Masconomet Regional girls soccer team is heading into the Division 1 North tournament with the its best record in three seasons.
At 13-0-5, the Chieftains earned themselves the No. 4 seed, as well as two home games — providing they win tomorrow’s first round matchup against Cambridge (2 p.m.).
”We’re really focusing on playing our game,” said head coach Paula Yanakakis. “I’m not one to scout. You have to play one way or another, so bring it on.”
Masconomet has returned to full strength after nursing a few injuries earlier in the season. Senior striker Kaleigh White (27 goals, 12 assists) lead things offensively while freshman Katy Pelletier has been sensational in goal.
While the Chieftains’ first priority is taking care of 14th seeded Cambridge, there’s a potential for a local matchup in the quarterfinals Sunday if sixth-seeded Peabody can get by Westford.
”If we get to Sunday, we could possibly play (Peabody) under the lights on the football field,” added Yanakakis. “That would be pretty cool ... but we need to get the first win.”
The Tanners (12-2-4) host Westford tomorrow (5 p.m.) in the first round and will look to senior captains Caitlin Lodi and Madison Doherty to lead this fairly young squad into the postseason.
Beverly, which wrapped up its regular season with a 3-2 win over Peabody, is the No. 2 seed in Div. 2 North. The Panthers (14-3-2) are hosting 15th seeded North Andover Sunday in a first round contest. The Scarlet Knights handed Beverly a 1-0 non-league loss earlier in the regular season.
”We’re excited about it,” said Beverly head coach Kristin Simpson. “North Andover got us early on, so it’s going to be a great rematch. This is the first time all season the we have a full roster and we’re in good shape.
”We’re looking for some really good practices. We’re focused on our defense, sense it worked so well for us last year. We have a few things to fine tune and organize for Sunday.”
The Panthers, now a Division 2 team, won the Division 1 North title a year ago.
Leading scorer and Northeastern Conference Player of the Year Caitlin Harty will surely continue her offensive excellence, along with fellow senior Casey Cook and junior Eva Gourdeau. Last year Cook started in goal for the Panthers throughout the tournament, but now with full-time keeper Kyra Wolonsavich playing, Simpson was able to move Cook alongside Harty at striker.
The big local matchup in Div. 2 is eighth-seeded Marblehead hosting ninth-seeded Danvers tomorrow in a first round clash. The Falcons (11-6-1), who are making their 24th consecutive tournament appearance, won both regular season games against the Magicians (12-4-2), most recently a 4-3 victory last Friday.
“It’s never easy having to play against someone from your own league,” said Danvers head coach Jimmy Hinchion. “The tournament setting always elevates the level of play of both teams. It should be an exciting game. Marblehead has been a strong team all season long, and we’ll need to be at the top of our game.”
Kylie Plaza (12 goals and 14 assists) has been the glue in Danvers’ lineup, while Mia Bongiorno is a big offensive weapon for Marblehead.
Also in Div. 2 action, Salem’s winning record earned the Witches the 13th seed and they’ll travel to East Boston Sunday (TBA).
In Division 3 action, fourth-seeded Hamilton-Wenham will host Watertown Saturday (2:30) in a first round matchup. Also in Div. 3, Ipswich earned the No. 8 seed and host Whittier Tech Saturday in the first round. If the Tigers should win, they’ll go up against Cape Ann League Large champion Newburyport on Monday in the quarterfinals.
Bishop Fenwick drew the No. 7 seed and plays North Reading at home tomorrow (3 p.m.), while sixth-seeded Swampscott hosts Triton Saturday (2:30 p.m.).
The only Division 4 team in the area to qualify was North Shore Tech/Essex Aggie, seeded No. 7 at 9-4-5. The Hawks host Georgetown in a first round game Saturday (2 p.m.).
Out of the 13 area boys teams that we cover, 10 of them earned themselves a trip to the state tournament.
St. John’s Prep boasted a 13-2-3 record and won their second consecutive Catholic Conference title. The Eagles drew the No. 3 seed in Division 1 North and will host 14th seeded Andover (8-6-4) in a first round matchup Sunday (1 p.m.).
Peabody, which earned the No. 4 seed, will also play at home Sunday (1 p.m.) against Malden. The Tanners (12-1-5) were a force in the NEC Large and finished league play undefeated, with their lone setback coming against top-seeded Somerville.
In Division 2 North action, Masconomet is seeded No. 3 at 18-1-1. The Chieftains will host Winchester Sunday (1 p.m.) in their first Division 2 game since 2008. Four years ago Masconomet moved up to Div. 1 and made it all the way to the state final against Ludlow in 2011. The Chieftains are led offensively by Cape Ann League Large Player of the Year Adam Grammer and anchored in the backfield by fellow senior captain Jeff Panella (All-League).
Danvers (11-1-6) earned the No. 6 seed with only one regular season loss to Marblehead. The Falcons host Greater Lowell Sunday night (6:30 p.m.).
Looking ahead in Division 2, Danvers could face Masconomet in the quarterfinal round if both teams advance.
Beverly heads into the playoffs as the No. 12 seed at 10-8-2 overall. The Panthers travel to Northeast Metro Tech Monday (2 p.m.).
Moving to Division 3, Marblehead is seeded No. 6 at 10-5-3 and earned a tournament berth for the second consecutive season. The Magicians are at home Saturday against 11th seeded O’Bryant at 4 p.m.
Swampscott (3-11-3), earned the 12th and final spot in Div. 3. The Big Blue head to Bedford tomorrow for a 2:45 start.
In Division 4, Hamilton-Wenham clinched a playoff spot for the first time since 2011. The Generals (9-4-5) host Community Academy of Science and Health. Ipswich (8-8-2), seeded 13th, will travel to Maimonides— with the date and time to be announced.
Meanwhile, Bishop Fenwick (7-7-6) took the final spot, earning the No. 14 seed. The Crusaders are on the road at No. 3 seed Boston International.
Tourney Facts: The last time the Masconomet girls played Cambridge in the tournament (2006), the Chieftains went on to win the North title that year ... Beverly boys look for their first tournament win since 2005 ... Salem girls earned a tourney berth for the first time since 2010.
Just For Kicks, a column on North Shore high school soccer, appears every Wednesday in The Salem News. Contact staff writer Gianna Addario at 978-338-2615, GAddario@salemnews.com and follow her on Twitter @GiannaAddarioSN.
MIAA TOURNAMENT SOCCER SCHEDULE TOMORROW: Boys -- Division 3 North first round: Swampscott at Bedford (2:45); Division 4 North first round: CASH Academy at Hamilton-Wenham (2:30). Girls -- Division 1 North first round: Cambridge at Masconomet (2), Westford at Peabody (5), ; Division 2 North first round: Danvers at Marblehead (2); Division 3 North first round: North Reading at Bishop Fenwick (3). SATURDAY: Boys -- Division 3 North first round: O'Bryant at Marblehead (4) ; Division 4 North first round: Bishop Fenwick at Boston International (TBA). Girls -- Division 3 North first round: Whittier at Ipswich (2), Watertown at Hamilton-Wenham (2;30), Triton at Swampscott (2:30), North Reading at Bishop Fenwick (3); Division 4 North first round: Georgetown at North Shore Tech (2). SUNDAY: Boys -- Division 1 North first round: Andover at St. John's Prep (1), Malden at Peabody (1); Division 2 North first round: Winchester at Masconomet (1), Greater Lowell at Danvers (6:30); Division 3 North first round: ; Division 4 North first round: Girls -- Division 2 North first round: North Andover at Beverly (2). MONDAY: Boys -- Division 2 North first round: Beverly at Northeast Metro (2).