By Nick Curcuru
---- — GLOUCESTER — The Salem girls soccer team came into last night’s Northeastern Conference crossover game at Gloucester with something to prove.
The Witches were not satisfied with their opening night performance, a 3-1 loss to Bishop Fenwick, and wanted to show that they were better than they showed in the opener.
“We struggled in our first match against Fenwick with a few breakdowns,” Salem head coach Fred Day said. “We really wanted to dominate tonight and show that we are better than what we showed against Fenwick.”
With a 5-1 victory at Newell Stadium, it’s pretty safe to say Davis’ squad accomplished its goal.
Salem (1-1) controlled play from the opening whistle. The Witches kept Gloucester (0-1) on its heels for the vast majority of the 80 minutes of play while outshooting their foes 28-1. When Gloucester was able to play the ball out of harms way, the Witches midfield and defense were there to make sure there were no scoring opportunities.
“We played great in the midfield,” Day said. “The effort was there and the execution was there all night, it was a big improvement from the last game, we are very happy with the effort tonight.”
The Witches got on the board eight minutes in when freshman Tayla O’Leary scored on a nice redirect off of a corner kick. Salem would threaten throughout the first half but the Gloucester defense held strong and the score remained 1-0 at the break.
Fishermen sophomore goalie Sabrina Maciel played a big role in keeping the game close at the half recording 13 of her 22 saves in the first frame.
“Sabrina had a very good game with 22 saves,” Gloucester head coach Ali Walsh said. “The score doesn’t do any justice to the way she played.”
Gloucester was still in the game when the whistle sounded to start the final 40 minutes of play, but Salem quickly shut the door.
O’Leary picked up her second goal of the game just two minutes into the half taking advantage of a quick restart, driving to the net past the Gloucester defense and beating Maciel to give the Witches a 2-0 lead.
Just under 10 minutes later the freshman would pick up the hat trick with a perfectly placed snipe just under the crossbar from a few feet inside the box to give Salem a 3-0 lead.
The Witches weren’t done either as Deema Hijleh, the team’s leading scorer in 2012, put forth a great individual effort taking the ball more than half the length of the field blowing through the Gloucester midfield and defense breaking in all alone for the score and a 4-0 Salem lead.
Gloucester would finally get on the board in the 70th minute on a nice individual effort from Keyra MacLean, who fought through a pair of Salem defenders for the goal. MacLean’s goal would turn out to be Gloucester’s only shot of the contest.
“I told the team to think that you won’t let up any shots,” Day said. “Of course that’s not going to happen often but we had that mentality tonight. They got that one shot in but I really liked the effort of our defense and the team overall.”
Hijleh would add one more goal in the 72nd minute to cap the scoring at 5-1.
“We have really been working on ball possession and dictating pace and I thought we really carried play in those areas,” Day said. “And we got some goals tonight which was very nice.”