BEVERLY — The Panthers were hungry right from the start and wasted no time building up a five goal lead, handing NEC rival Salem the first loss of the season, 13-5.
Grace Otterbein and Camden Vitale each had two goals during that opening six minute span, and Marita Smallman also scored. Host Beverly moved the ball around effectively to find the open person, and often it was Vitale, who finished with four goals and an assist to lead her team.
“We wanted to come out strong,” said Panther coach Alyson Healey after her team improved to 7-2 with the win. “We were coming off a very tough loss to Danvers, 15-14 and Salem is always a good rivalry for us. They hadn’t lost and came in with a lot of confidence. We knew we had to come out strong and play our game.”
Beverly was able to win the draws and quickly move the ball down the field. Alexa Gilbert, who led the Witches with four goals, scored on a free position shot to close the gap to 5-1, but the Panthers struck for five more to take a commanding 10-1 lead by halftime. Meagan Henrichon was set up by Vitale, who gave her a perfect pass, and 30 seconds later Henrichon returned the favor.
Sophomore speedster Alicia Cecchini scored two of her three goals and Henrichon added another before the half ended. Freshman Cat Cross started in goal for the Panthers, and made some huge saves before giving way to Kyra Wolonsavich, who had a strong second half.
“Cross has been playing for a couple of years, and she has stepped up for us. It’s a big step playing varsity for the first time,” said Healey. “She is very calm back there which is great to see in a young player. Kyra also did a great job in the second half, and it’s her first year playing.