Offensively, Beverly was aggressive against ninth-seeded Westford (12-5-1). Gourdeau made several nice runs to set up chances that missed in the early going. Then in the 25th minute, she ran by two defenders in a 2-on-1 with Harty.
Both Westford defenders collapsed on Gourdeau, and Harty won the ball with just the keeper to beat. She did, placing her shot high into the cage for only goal of the game.
“I wanted to get it on net, and when it was going high I was just thinking stay down and don’t go over. I saw it go in and I was ecstatic,” said Harty. “Eva sends the best balls through, she’s a great partner to have up top. She always finds me and I’m so thankful for that.”
Beverly’s midfield, including Meggie Manzo, Rachel Kenny, Allison Collins and Rose Terner, helped keep Westford off balance in the second. Save for a Meghan Thomasch bid off the crossbar, the Ghosts didn’t put the Panther defense on its heels.
Gourdeau, a sublime, talented sophomore, was the key to the possession game.
“It’s all mental for Eva. She needs something good to get her going and I think that assist to Caitlin early in our last game did that for her. Hopefully for us, she won’t stop, because we don’t win the last two games without her playing the way she’s playing,” said Simpson.
Beverly almost extended its lead twice. Gourdeau’s bid off a corner kick was saved early in the second half and Harty had a header off another set piece go wide with 15 minutes to play. The Panther defense calmly returned the ball to midfield following most Westford runs to hold the lead.
“We’re just more confident now,” said Cook. “We had to get those jitters and nervousness out early in the tournament and we’ve picked it up a lot since then.”