By Matt Williams
---- — BEVERLY — Against most teams, a defensive hiccup here or there and a momentary loss of concentration are no big deal.
Against the Beverly girls soccer team, however, just one mistake can bury you.
Visiting Danvers saw that first hand yesterday on the turf at Beverly High, where senior striker Caitlin Harty completed her hat trick by scoring twice in a one-minute span to give the Panthers a 3-1 win.
The Falcons (5-3) had controlled possession for much of the second half and equalized in the 66th minute when Delaney Zecha finished Kylie Plaza’s corner kick.
When play resumed, however, Sarah Visnick’s pass sent Harty into the attacking end and she scored to give Beverly (7-1-2) the lead right back. That scene played out again immediately, with Eva Gourdeau providing the assist this time, as Harty and the hosts stunned Danvers with two quick scores.
“You cannot lapse for 10 seconds against Beverly. Their attack is too good,” said Danvers head coach Jimmy Hinchion. “You make just two mistakes and a 1-1 game turns into 3-1 fast.”
Beverly, on the other hand, was happy to take advantage of those miscues. The Panthers were the stronger team for much of the first half but spent chunks of the second stanza on their heels; after Danvers scored to tie it, the Black-and-Orange responded in a big way.
“I was really proud of the way we went right back at them after they tied it,” said Beverly coach Kristin Simpson. “It was great to see us rally.”
Danvers had two excellent scoring chances in the final 10 minutes. Shannon Pohle beat to defenders and the keeper, but her shot hit the bottom the crossbar and bounced straight down without crossing the goal line. Then with about three minutes to go, Plaza’s direct kick from 16 yards away also hit the bar.
Prior to that, the Falcons outshot Beverly 6-2 in the second half, with Panther keeper Kyra Wolonsavich coming up with a couple of point-blank saves.
“We played so well in the second half, but you can’t get those chances back,” said Hinchion, whose team has fallen to Beverly twice. “We weren’t sharp; once you tie it up, you have to lock it down and that’s frustrating. We played better, but we’re capable of more and I’d like to see us respond to these challenges.”
Harty opened the scoring just three minutes in. Fellow captain Diandra Crowley took a free kick from about 45 yards away that sailed over the Danvers wall and bounced around before finding Harty open on the left side for her 21st goal of the season.
Falcon keeper Leah Ciampa made four saves in the first half, including two from close proximity on Harty and one on Gourdeau, to keep it a one-goal game.
“We had a really good first half and we adjusted to their formation, three in the middle, very well,” said Simpson. “In the second half, they made some adjustments and we struggled for a bit.”
Beverly’s off-ball defense was outstanding, however, as Crowley, Kadrianna Letts, Rose Terner and Visnick took away open looks despite Danvers’ possession advantage. Wolonsavich did a good job directing traffic in front of her net as the Panthers displayed the kind of defense that’s helped them allow just two goals in their last seven games.
“Vocally, Kyra is great and communication has been a strong point,” said Simpson. “I have to give Danvers credit. They put a lot of pressure on us and were just kicking it out of our end instead of getting good balls. When we finally settled down and found out feet, we got better.”
Defender Emily Murphy had a strong game for Danvers and Hinchion was also pleased with the play of Zecha, Plaza, mid Meaghan McKenna and freshman Morgan Mscisz. The Falcon backline did a good job disrupting Beverly in the box, but when the Panthers hit long passes it spelled big trouble and led to goals.
“Our on-ball defense was excellent. Off the ball needs to be a lot better, and Beverly is very good at finding those seams,” said Hinchion.
Mids Casey Cook, Meghan Berking and Caitlyn Munzing were also strong for the Panthers, who were without injured captain Kristen O’Connor for the third straight game. She’s expected back early next week.
Danvers will hold its annual ‘Think Pink’ game tonight to help raise awareness about breast cancer when they host Salem (6:30 p.m.) at Deering Stadium.