PEABODY — Starting off the season on the right foot is never easy, but it’s important — especially after graduating 11 seniors.
The Bishop Fenwick girls soccer team knows a thing or two about that after yesterday’s 3-1 win over Salem in its home opener.
Goal scoring seems to be a valuable strength for Fenwick, which netted its three goals in the first 30 minutes of play. The non-conference bout against Salem was a good measuring stick for the Crusaders, who open league play against Matignon Monday.
“We’re a young team with not a lot of game experience, so I thought we played great in the first half,” said Fenwick head coach Karen Guillemette. “Second half, we showed that it’s the first game of the season and we looked a little tired. Overall, though, we put in a great effort.”
The Crusaders got on the board early and set the tone for the opening stanza. Senior captain Annette Ruggiero scored a minute-and-a-half into the contest after making a run with fellow captain Cate Parrott. Ruggiero made the shot from across the box and over the fingertips of Witches (0-1) goalie Ariana Gaffney.
Freshman forward Abi Rocker set up senior captain Vicky Caruso for the next goal, dropping it behind for Caruso and watching as she knocked it home. Fenwick went into the break up three after junior Jackie Edgett rolled one by Gaffney with 11 minutes to play in the first half.
“We had a few breakdowns to start the game,” explained Salem head coach Fred Day. “It’s hard, especially against a good team, to come back when you go down by three. At halftime we talked about trying to take over the game.”
After the Witches regrouped at intermission, they came back looking like a completely different team. With the help of better communication, they created far more space for themselves and went on several runs.
A fairly young team as well, Salem got its only goal from freshman forward Tayla O’Leary, who capitalized on a Fenwick turnover. That momentum continued and the Witches carried play for the majority of the second half.
“I called a timeout shortly after that goal,” Guillemette noted. “I waited a little bit to see if the girls could sort it out their own, but I just told them that we need to settle down and play our game better.”
The Crusaders had the advantage in corners 5-1, but it was Salem who put 12 shots on net during the game. Sophomore keeper Meredith Harrington was sensational for Fenwick and was very aggressive getting to loose balls.
Day liked the play of Witches senior back Hayley Jellison as well as senior captains Brenna Burke and Alix Bryant. As a team the Witches got better as the game went on, something Day will be able to draw upon for Monday’s game against Gloucester.
“I think we’re going to score more this year, (which has)s been a problem in the past,” said Day. “If we can up those mistakes, I think we’ll be good.
“The girls showed that fight it them; when you get down like that it’s easy to give up, but we didn’t.”
Guillemette made several substitutions, including freshmen Alyson and Emily Charette and Rocker — showing the Crusaders’ versatility and depth.
“They’re up on varsity for a reason,” added Guillemette. “They have the skill; they just need the experience.”