“The NEC could be dynamite,” said veteran Danvers coach Jimmy Hinchion. “I look around the league and it seems like almost everyone has improved. There aren’t a lot of teams that look down.”
Salem could be a team to watch in their third season under coach Fred Day. Alix Bryant is committed to Hartford (giving the league six Division 1 college players) and will be excellent at defensive mid. Senior captain Brenna Burke is also solid and the Witches have a number of juniors that are three-year starters including Katherine Towey and Deema Hijleh.
“The girls have paid their dues and earned their stripes,” said Day. “We’re in very good shape. They’ve put in a lot of work this summer in terms of conditioning and that should help us keep our focus at the end of games. We’ve had good spirit in the preseason.”
Marblehead has a talented striker in junior Mia Bongiorno and made the tournament last year under first-year coach Andrew Bub. The Magicians have some spots to fill due to graduation, but with the system in the place they will be competitive. Swamspcott, under first-year coach Ken Leeder, remains in the mix as well.
As for Beverly, the Panthers remain confident but cautious. Their senior class has established its identity and style of play over the past few years with great success. They also know that there are few easy roads in the NEC these days.
“I think its just a matter of playing well under pressure,” said Simpson. “We need to mentally prepare for every game and make sure we play with consistency.”