LYNN — In championship soccer, set pieces are either a blessing or a curse.
Saturday in the Division 2 North girls semifinals, they were the bane of the otherwise nearly flawless Beverly High girls soccer team.
Concord-Carlisle converted a corner kick with 1:57 left in overtime to dash the Panthers’ state title dreams with a 2-1 decision at Manning Field.
Beverly, the defending Division 1 North champs, led 1-0 deep into the second half, but the Patriots knotted it up with 12:53 to play. The Panthers (16-4-2) had some pressure in overtime, but fell when C-C freshman Tessa Abbott’s corner was redirected into the net by sophomore Madeline Leahy.
“It’s our Achilles’ heel. I think 75 percent of the goals we gave up this year were on corners,” said Beverly head coach Kristin Simpson. “For some reason, we’ve always struggled defending those corners.”
It was a sudden and surprising end for a Beverly team that won 47 games the last three years. The senior core of captains Diandra Crowley, Caitlin Harty, Casey Cook and Kristen O’Connor led the team to its first-ever North title a year ago and a share of their first Northeastern Conference title in 15 years this fall. In addition, Harty graduates as Beverly’s all-time leader in goals and points, having broken her coach’s 13-year old records.
“I’ve been here 10 years and I’ve never seen a group like this. They’re the best leaders you could ever ask for,” said Simpson, who coached a number of the seniors in youth soccer since they were eight years old. “I can’t say enough about these girls and what they’ve done.”
Concord-Carlisle (13-2-4) advances to face Wilmington in today’s Division 2 North final.
The Patriots weathered an early storm Saturday as Beverly had eight shots on goal in the first half, then four in the second and only one in the overtime. Both the wind and C-C’s subs might have played a role in the momentum shift.