By Jean DePlacido
---- — SALEM — Coming into last night’s game against Lexington, the Beverly/Danvers girls had scored 71 goals. They only put one in the back of the net against the Minutemen, but it proved to be all they would need to pick up their 10th win of the season last night at Salem State’s Rockett Arena.
The Panthers (10-1) were coming off their only loss of the season to Andover in a tribute game to Colleen Ritzer, the Danvers High teacher, who was killed a few months ago. Before that they had beaten a tough St. Mary’s team so it wasn’t surprising they came out a bit flat.
“We didn’t have our legs tonight; we were drained after two very emotional games,” said Beverly coach Brian Seabury. “We had to grind it out, but that’s something we need to learn how to do. It is going to help us down the road.”
Beverly has plenty of scoring chances, couldn’t extend an early 1-0 lead they ultimately held on to.
“We had breakaways, but couldn’t capitalize. We certainly didn’t know that early goal was going to stand up, and kept hoping to get another one for insurance,” Seabury said.
The only goal of the game came midway through the opening period when Julia Nearis scored her team leading 31st of the season with Nicole Kamens assisting. Nearis, an eighth grade left wing, got by the defense and fired a high shot over Minuteman goalie Amanda Charlton’s shoulder.
The Panthers outshot Lexington, 34-14, but Charlton was outstanding. She made several unbelievable saves to keep her team in the game. At the other end eighth grader Madison Jalbert wasn’t as busy, but came up equally big when she needed to in the shutout.
“Our eighth graders were good tonight,” said Seabury. “Jalbert was there when we needed her, and made some big saves early. We didn’t get the bounces and couldn’t find the back of the net. Give that Lexington goalie a lot of credit. It wasn’t one of our best efforts, but we’ll take the ‘W’ and move on. It’s been a tough week as far as conditioning goes, but we’ll be ready for Duxbury — the number one team in the state — on Monday.”
Beverly completely dominated the first and third periods, but couldn’t get a lot going in the middle 15 minutes because of penalties. Nearis appeared to get her second goal of the night on a power play bid, but the puck didn’t completely cross the goal line. Nicole Woods was set up by Nearis late in the period only to have Charlton block her five-hole bid in a jam in front of the net.
In the final minute of the period Beverly swarmed around the Lexington goal, and Kristen McCarthy had two point blank shots that were turned away. Anna O’Neill also came close to getting an insurance tally for the Panthers in the final seconds.
“Beverly/Danvers is a great team, and this is the first complete game my team has played all season,” said Lexington coach Mandy Ciarletta after her team fell to 2-9-1 overall. “I wish we could have scored, but I’m happy with the performance. We play in the tough Middlesex League against strong competition like Reading and Arlington. There are no easy games in our league. Charlton saw a lot of shots, and she stepped up to that senior captain leadership role.”
Three minutes into the final frame Jalbert made a huge save to deny Brigid Avery, who came close to tying it up. Beverly peppered the Lexington goalie, but couldn’t add an insurance goal. McCarthy and Nearis had a two-on-one opportunity, but Charlton made a big glove save on McCarthy.
Lexington was unable to pull the goalie for an extra skater when they wanted to in the final minute because Beverly kept the puck in the Minuteman end. They finally did get the extra skater on with 20 seconds remaining, but couldn’t get a shot off.
“We played our system and our defense was very good at the end,” said Seabury. “We had to keep working hard all the way.”