DANVERS — Ranked as one of the top girls soccer programs in the state, Beverly has developed a giant target on its back. With all of the hype that surrounds the Panthers this fall, they’re ready and fighting to live up to it all.
Beverly’s success has come full circle in the past year. Just 10 months removed from winning their first ever Division 1 North title the Panthers are trying to prove to themselves and to their opponents that last year was no fluke.
Last night host Danvers learned first hand how serious Beverly is. After jumping out to an early lead, the Panthers went on to win 5-2 in a meeting of two of the Northeastern Conference’s top clubs at Dr. Deering Stadium.
“This year we’re a new team and we have a lot to prove,” said Beverly head coach Kristin Simpson, her team 2-0. “We want to prove to everyone that we deserve to be here. We’ve been focusing on this year’s group and this year’s team. There’s still a lot to work on, but we have such a great core coming back, luckily we’ve played well early on.”
At the core of that group is the dynamic duo of strikers senior Caitlin Harty and junior Eva Gourdeau. The star forwards netted all five goals for the Panthers, including Gourdeau’s hat trick. Both girls have already recorded four goals in just two games, with plenty of assists to go with them. Harty broke the team’s scoring record last year and led the state in goals (50).
”We’ve played together for a while a now,” Harty said of her and Gourdeau’s on-field relationship. “We look for each other up top and just try to make the best passes possible.”
The Panthers jumped out to a 2-0 lead with Harty’s pair of scores and took their two-goal advantage into the break. Shannon Pohle brought Danvers to within one to start the second half, but Gourdeau quickly responded.