By Matt Williams and Gianna Addario Staff writers
The Salem News
---- — LYNN — It’s not common to see a soccer team change goalies in the middle of a state semifinal contest.
But then again, Beverly High junior Casey Cook is an especially uncommon player.
Coming out of a timeout with 20:36 to play in last night’s Division 1 state semifinal at Manning Field, Beverly coach Kristin Simpson sent Cook to the midfield as senior Rachel Kenney took her place in net.
With the Panthers trailing, 1-0, at the time, Cook — who has played both midfield and keeper throughout the season — nearly generated a scoring chance right away by sending a ball up to Kristen O’Connor that Franklin snuffed.
“When you get to this point, it’s do-or-die. If you lose, there’s no tomorrow,” Simpson said. “We felt like we were losing the midfield, and Casey can be a crazy lady out there — she has an immediate impact, and she wins everything.”
Cook posted back-to-back shutouts earlier in the state tournament and stopped three of the four shots she saw in the 2-0 loss to Franklin last night.
“I wish I could split Casey in half and have her in net, too,” Simpson said. “She’s a tremendous field player, and we needed that. Already being down 1-0, we needed to try to go for it.”
The Panthers (18-4) also had faith in Kenney, who made three saves, includes two excellent stops on Franklin’s superb striker, Kristi Kirshe. Franklin did score as sophomore Taylor Cagliano converted a breakaway off a turnover with 11:33 left in the game, but at that point, there wasn’t much Kenney could do to stop it.
“Rachel was our keeper throughout the year, and she did a great job for us,” Simpson said.
Cook let in just five goals in five postseason games. She had a most impressive 19 saves in the penalty kick victory over Central Catholic in the North final.
Junior striker Caitlin Harty was held off the sheet for just the third time in 22 games. She finished a historic season with 50 goals and 11 assists for 61 points. The goals and points are both single-season program records for Beverly, while the goals mark is also a record for The Salem News coverage area (complete records date back to 1997).
Harty netted seven of Beverly’s eight tournament goals.
Her 61 points tie the known area record, equaling the 61 Peabody’s Hayley Dowd scored as a freshman in 2009 on 45 goals and 16 assists.
Franklin’s Kirshe, a senior, scored her 100th career goal in the first half last night. Harty is nearing that mark, with 90 goals and 29 assists for 119 points with a full season still to play.
The next member of Beverly’s 100-point club may well be sophomore Eva Gourdeau. She finished with 15 goals and 19 assists this season and has impressive career totals of 39 goals, 36 assists and 75 points through just two varsity seasons.
Gourdeau has the ability to create her own space off the ball and is able to dance around defenders to generate offense. For a period of last night’s game, Gourdeau was the key to Beverly’s scoring opportunities.
“She always does a good job and knows the game so well,” Simpson said of her sophomore attack. “Eva knows how to create that space and knows what to do when she gets the ball.”
Franklin coach Tom Geysen was also impressed with the sophomore, “That number 16 drove us even more crazy than Harty did at times.”
Beverly’s 18 wins were one shy of the school record of 19 set in 1997. That season, the last for legendary coach Dick Maitland, the Panthers went 19-1-2 while falling in the Division 1 North final.
The Panthers won their first sectional championship this season and also set a program postseason wins record with four.
Local girls soccer teams are now 5-8 in the state semifinals since 1997. Marblehead is 2-0 on that stage, though they lost in the state final in both 1997 and 2002. Danvers (1-3), Hamilton-Wenham (1-0), Bishop Fenwick (0-2) Masconomet (0-2) and Peabody (1-0) are the other local programs that have reached this stage, while Beverly was making its first appearance in a state semi and is now 0-1.