By Dan Harrison Correspondent
The Salem News
---- — BEVERLY — Caitlin Harty has become a consummate overachiever.
Heading into yesterday’s Northeastern Conference home bout against Salem, Beverly’s junior forward needed just one goal to hit the century mark in career points as well as to become the Panthers’ single-season record holder in goals.
Harty overwhelmed that mark, scoring four times as Beverly cruised 5-2 over the Witches and before the day was done, Harty would accomplish four different Beverly High School girls soccer milestones as the Panthers improved to 12-2.
Early in the first half Harty scored a nifty left-footed goal and play was subsequently stopped so the Panthers could retrieve the game ball that marked Harty’s 100th career point and 34th goal of the season. The marker eclipsed the previous mark of 33 which was held by none other than current Beverly coach Kristin Simpson.
After the game, Beverly athletic director James Coffey presented Harty with a bouquet of orange flowers as the junior beamed with Panther pride.
“I got really excited (when I took the shot). In the back of my head I was thinking ‘this could be it,’” Harty said of her first goal. “And it was, so I was really happy. Soccer is basically what I decided to focus on in high school so having achieved that (place in the record books) makes it all worth it.”
Three goals later, Harty had also broken the Beverly High girls soccer record in career points (104) and goals while extending the single season goal mark to 37. Her head coach, Simpson, had held each one of those marks from her days as a Panther. Simpson and Harty have grown close over the years since Simpson has been the junior forward’s coach since she was 10-years-old.
“Records were meant to be broken. I wouldn’t want anyone else to break it. I’ve coached her since she was 10 and I’ve really enjoyed coaching her and watching her grow as a player,” Simpson said. “To see her become the player and the person she is, she deserves it. She works hard.”
Harty’s always been one of the fastest players on the pitch. Last year, she broke out with a 27 goals season and as a junior she’s grown even more confident, especially in her ability to finish around the net.
“Over the past few years she has always had the opportunities to finish but she has struggled actually putting them in. She has really worked hard and now she has a knack for hitting the net,” Simpson noted. “I think the biggest thing too, being a junior, she has a lot more confidence than she did her freshman and sophomore years. Every game she’s getting more and more confident and she keeps getting better and better.”
As for the coach who coached the coach who coaches Harty? Well, he too was in attendance. Salem skipper Fred Day used to coach Simpson when she played for the District U18 girls team as well as a women’s team in the summer.
“I coached Kristin (Simpson) back in the day. I know that was a big record and to do it so early in the season too. She (Harty) is a phenomenal player,” said Day.
Once Harty scored early in the first half and the monkey was off her back, everything seemed to keep moving in the right direction. An Eva Gourdeau shot that hit the cross bar bounced right back to Harty for her second goal of the game before she capitalized on an aerial -hrough bal,l beating a Salem defender in a foot race before calmly placing the ball in the far corner of the net. Harty added her fourth goal in the second half when she smoothly struck a left-footed shot into the far corner after getting behind the defense.
The ability to put the ball exactly where she wants it is one Harty believes crucial to her record-breaking scoring pace.
“I’ve been getting a lot of chances on breakaways and I’ve been on the left side a lot, so I’ve been getting all that practice,” said Harty. “I’ve been getting better at just putting it right into the corner, especially on hard angles. My left foot is good for accuracy now which is nice.”
Meggie Manzo scored the other Beverly goal.
Salem played a tough game much to the delight of Day. Sophomore Deema Hejleh used her wheels to create a pair of opportunities and was rewarded with the two Witches goals in the contest.
“We played a great team today. I was happy with my team though we made a pretty good effort,” noted Day. “I like the fight that we showed today against a really good team. If we can do this against some of our other opponents it will be a good sign for us in the future.
Harty meanwhile was already looking past her record setting day and towards the team’s future, which she hopes includes more than one game in the Division 1 North tournament which the Panthers have already qualified for.
“This season I want our team to do well in the state tournament,” said Harty. “We want to get past the first round and get some revenge for last year.”
CAITLIN HARTY BY THE NUMBERS Season Goals Assists Pts 2010: 13 6 19 2011: 27 12 39 2012: 37 9 46 Totals 77 27 104