MARBLEHEAD — One of the main focal points of the Danvers girls soccer team is its ability to score in crucial moments.
With their backs against the wall, the Falcons came from behind to take down a strong Northeastern Conference opponent in Marblehead, 2-1.
The host Magicians (3-1-2) came into the contest previously undefeated and just a point behind Danvers in the conference standings, but they soon found out just how serious Danvers was about holding onto that top spot.
“We knew they were unbeaten and that the standings were close,” said Danvers head coach Jimmy Hinchion, whose team is now 4-1-2 overall. “Our game plan was just to play our game. We knew they’d be strong and they certainly were, but we wanted to be patient. We didn’t panic when we got down, which was huge. Our thing is if we get an opportunity we want to cash in on it.”
Sophomore Mia Bongiorno has been a scoring machine for Marblehead as of late. Bongiorno dribbled down the left side of the field towards the Falcons’ net and with a quick release sent one past keeper Leah Ciampa for the first score of the game in the sixth minute.
“She was unbelievable for us today,” explained Marblehead coach Andrew Bub. “The girl is a sophomore and plays like a senior. She controls the middle with a lot of patience and has great vision. Mia helps the players around her get better. She’s a quiet girl, but plays very loud on the field.”
Danvers was hunting for the tying goal for the rest of the half. The Falcons were aggressive with their play, going hard to the goal and even survived a few collisions with Marblehead keeper Cassie Rodgers.
With just under two minutes to play before halftime, Shannon Pohle ran hard through Marblehead defenders and after another collision with Rodgers, scored to tie it for Danvers at one a piece.
“A big thing we focus on is the first five minutes of every half and the last five minutes of every half,” said Hinchion. “Unfortunately, Marblehead got their goal in the sixth minute of the first half, so it kind of backfired on us.
“But we really tried to put that pressure on in the last five minutes and it was huge goal for us. To be tied going into half or down by a goal is a big difference, so it was a lot of momentum for us.”
Both teams came out of the break eager to score the go-ahead goal. Though the second half was mostly played in the midfield, both clubs had an equal amount of scoring opportunities, but couldn’t find the back of the net.
“The girls wanted that second goal real bad,” explained Hinchion. “I think we picked up our level of play in the second half. We missed few golden opportunities in the first half, even some in the second half.”
At 22-minute mark of the second half, junior midfielder Stephanie Kowalski notched what would be the game winning goal for the Falcons.
“I just saw the ball there and ran to it,” said Kowalski. “I saw one of teammates slow down, so I decided to take the shot with my right foot. This was a big game for us, we were fighting for every ball. Marblehead was one point behind us coming into the game and we wanted get some separation in the standings.”
“Stephanie was able to make that one count when she got the opportunity,” added Hinchion. “You love to see a kid like her get that goal for us.”
Rodgers had over a dozen saves for the Magicians and was the anchor in net despite the loss, while freshman Sarah Cullen was itching for a goal with two opportunities late in the game.