By Gianna Addar Staff Writer
The Salem News
---- — PEABODY — It was the kind of win you want to end your regular season with.
Truth be told, it was exactly the type of win the Peabody girls soccer team was hoping for. After suffering their only loss of the season at the hands of Acton-Boxborough last week, the Tanners were looking for a way to redeem themselves.
Powered by its first-rate defense, host Peabody took command of last night’s game early on en route to a 6-0 victory over its Northeastern Conference rival Beverly. The Tanners defenders have allowed just four shots on goal between the two Beverly games this season.
“This was definitely a turn around for us,” said Peabody senior captain Victoria Digiacomo. “Coming off that loss to A-B we knew we needed to step up big. Beverly’s a great team, so we knew it was going to be a great game.
“We take Beverly so serious. The play exactly like us, they’re fast and play on the ground. We knew coming into the game it was going to be a physical one because the last time we played them it was 1-0.”
Finishing off the schedule with three straight wins puts the NEC Large champions at 17-1 overall as they gear up for the playoffs next week.
Digiacomo got the scoring going for the Tanners 10 minutes into the contest. Twin sister Kara launched a direct kick on goal and Victoria tipped the ball in with her head.
“Kara takes most of our direct kicks and she’s so accurate with them,” said Peabody coach Dennis Desroches. “She’s an incredible fullback with a great touch. And then we have kids who can really work hard off the ball, can see gaps in the defense and know how to attack it.”
The Panthers (14-3) remained down by only a single for the next 15 minutes and had some opportunities themselves, with great balls from Kristen O’Connor and Casey Cook.
Peabody’s Madison Doherty worked the ball by three defenders along the left side and beat all three to get a wide open look at the net. Doherty sent the ball past keeper Rachel Kenny (right side) to give the Tanners a 2-0 lead.
Minutes later, Kara followed up with another direct kick on goal and this time Doherty hits in the back of the net for her second of the game.
The Tanners fought for every 50/50 ball and know how to work the ball in the air. Hayley Dowd hit Doherty on a through ball along the left side and Doherty crossed it up and over the Beverly defenders as Victoria gets a head on it to give put Peabody up 4-0 at the half.
“In that first game against Beverly, we had Hayley for a third of the game,” said Desroches. “Hayley is a huge part of our offense. A lot of things go through her. She’s a great scorer, but I think people don’t realize how great of a distributor she is. When her and Victoria are playing together, it’s a great combination. I understand I’m their coach, but I’ve never seen a better pair play together. Between the two of them, they have over 320 career points.”
Beverly was without striker Eva Gordeau for the better part of the first half because of injury. Fellow forward Caitlin Harty did her best to work the ball in Tanner territory, but again Peabody was locked down.
“It’s always going to be a good team and Peabody was the better team here,” said Beverly coach Kristin Simpson. “They came to play tonight and it showed in everything they did tonight. Our girls came in really excited, but I think we psyched ourselves out and Peabody was able to get us out of our game.”
Dowd scored on a penalty kick midway through the second half and Erica Nelson netted the final score of the game off corner kick by Sarah Sousa.
“This was just matter of us getting quick crosses on the ground and finishing,” explained Dowd. “We had two headers and things like that, we’re getting better at. I could tell at warm-ups, everyone was in the zone and we were all ready to play.”