DANVERS — Last night's performance against Beverly was the kind of game that Danvers head coach Jimmy Hinchion had been looking for from his team all season. With a one-goal advantage heading into the break, the Falcons knew they had to find a way to extend the lead and ensure the win at home.
Danvers held on for two more scores in the second half to finish off the Panthers, 3-1, and handed them their second loss of the season.
"We're running a nice unbeaten streak since our first game," said Hinchion whose team moves to 6-1-2 overall. "Each win is giving us that confidence we need. I think the girls are starting to realize that we can play with the best of them, because I certainly consider Beverly the best.
"Our whole thing is that we want to play our best soccer in October and heading into November. We started off slow and we've been gaining momentum with each win. I told the girls at halftime that I thought that was our best half of the season."
Danvers' Shannon Pohle broke through with 14 minutes to play in the opening half. The Falcons were throwing everything they had on goal and possessed the ball well through the midfield and up to the forward line.
From there Danvers took the one-goal lead into halftime and continued to put the pressure on Beverly (6-2 overall). The Panthers were able to find light after Caitlin Harty was awarded a penalty kick after being taken down by a Danvers defender along the right side of the field. Harty sent one right by keeper Leah Ciampa to score her 21st of the season and tie the game 10 minutes into the second half. "I told the girls at halftime that they had to work harder; they either have to give it their all or they're going to come up with a loss," said Beverly head coach Kristin Simpson. "I think that in the second half we did work harder, but I think we dug ourselves into a hole and it was too deep to come back from."
Noticeably absent from Beverly's lineup was junior sweeper Kristen O'Connor, who is normally the anchor in the backfield for the Panthers. Though her teammates tried to fill the void defensively, O'Connor's presence was surely missed.
"Man we missed her," said Simpson. "She really would've helped us, but I think the team did a good job rallying around scoring opportunities. Hopefully we'll have her back soon because we need her. Times like this is when you realize how important certain players are, we always knew how good she was — but we missed her."
As Danvers continued to penetrate into the Beverly defensive zone, the Falcons continued to get more and more looks in front of the net.
Stephanie Kowalski put the Falcons back up by a goal with under 15 minutes to play in the game, to notch her second game winner in just three games, off of a great feed from Pohle.
"We shot ourselves in the foot a lot and missed some open looks," Hinchion said. "We knew we couldn't just sit on a one-goal lead. Stephanie was just at the right place. She's been on varsity since freshman year and has been through these battles. She really stepped up big in the Marblehead game and now this one."
Delaney Zecha gave Danvers an insurance goal just two minutes after Kowalski's marker to put the game away.