Just For Kicks
---- — PEABODY— It’s that time in the soccer season when teams feel that little extra push to qualify for the state tournament. Every point matters with just over a week left on the regular season schedule.
Bishop Fenwick girls are one of those teams right on the cusp of a playoff berth. After Saturday’s 2-1 win over Stoneham, the Crusaders kept up the intense effort and blanked Danvers at home yesterday, 1-0. At 7-5-1 overall, they’re looking for one more victory and hoping that it will come tomorrow against arch rival St. Mary’s.
”We really turned the corner in Saturday’s win,” said Fenwick head coach Karen Guillemette. “We’d been struggling, kind of down and had lost a couple. On Saturday we really felt like we started over and the kids have really responded to it, with two wins in a row. We stopped caring about the past and have been playing great ever since.”
Freshman Emily Charette scored the games only goal yesterday at Donaldson Field off a corner kick with seven minutes to play in the opening half and the Crusaders were able to hold off Danvers’ 17 second half shots for the shutout.
”We wanted this one bad,” explained junior defender Jenny Nasser. “We fought hard. Danvers had a lot of opportunities, but our all-around team effort was stellar.”
Keeper Merry Harrington was back between the pipes after missing a handful of games due to a concussion. She had more than 20 saves in her first game back and was spectacular for her team yesterday.
”It’s so good to back,” Harrington. “Practice on Monday was a little bit of struggle getting back into things, but I felt great in the game. Danvers tried really hard to knock one in at the end to tie the game, but we held them.”
Forward Shannon Pohle had a wide open shot attempt, as Harrington was on the ground, but somehow Nasser got back in time to kick the ball out and hold onto the lead.
Fenwick’s defense, led by Nasser, played much tighter in the second half to preserve the win. With St. Mary’s just up ahead, it will be a real battle for the Crusaders, who always seem to have trouble against the Spartans.
”We’re really focused on one game at a time and one win at a time,” Guillemette noted. “St. Mary’s is real good team and they always play us hard. It’s not going to be easy. We know that every game forward is a fight, it’s a battle and that’s what you get in the tournament too.”
Meanwhile, Danvers is looking for just one more point to qualify. The Falcons can do so in tomorrow’s game against Winthrop with either a win or a tie.
”It wasn’t us playing the game,” Danvers head coach Jimmy Hinchion noted. “It wasn’t the way we’ve been playing. I feel like since that second half against Beverly, we’ve taken a lot of steps forward and this was step back.
”We weren’t sharp to open the game. I told the girls that we spotted them (Fenwick) a half. We just didn’t play our game and gave up a goal where we shouldn’t have. But we weren’t playing attacking soccer either, the second half we started to show glimpses of it. I loved our effort in the last five or 10 minutes of the game, but it just wasn’t there in the first half.”
The Falcons are looking to win the Northeastern Conference Small again this season, and currently have a slight advantage over Marblehead, which they hope to hang onto.
“You have to be confident going into the tournament,” added Hinchion. “If we have another game like this where we’re leaving the field feeling dejected and down, that’s not going to help us— we need to be playing well heading into Novemeber.”
North Shore Tech, Masconomet, Hamilton-Wenham, Beverly, Peabody and Marblehead are have already punched their postseason tickets, while Salem and Swampscott are still looking for their tourney spot.
Masconomet girls (9-0-3) and Peabody boys (8-0-5) are the only two teams that remain undefeated in the 2013 season. They both could very well finish the year without a loss, but the Chieftains do have a tough matchup against Newburyport this Monday.
Also, Masconomet boys remain undefeated in Cape Ann League play. The Chieftains are currently 12-0 in the CAL, all of which are shutout victories.
St. John’s Prep travels to B.C. High this afternoon for another Catholic Conference showdown with their arch rival. The Prep topped B.C. High 3-1 earlier in the season and look to secure the conference title with another win.
After suffering back-to-back losses for the first time all season, Beverly girls got their stride back in a 5-0 win over Lynn Classical yesterday. The Panthers tied the Rams 3-3 earlier in the year, so the victory was a push in the right direction.
”We’ve been in a slump lately,” said head coach Kristin Simpson. “This got us back into it and the girls feel back on track.”
Senior forward Caitlin Harty netted all five of Beverly’s goals.
It’s hard to believe the regular season wraps up a week from Tuesday. Most NEC and CAL teams finish up next Friday, with a few playing games on that final Monday.
The pairing come out Wendnesday October, 31st, while the preliminary/first rounds begin that Friday.
Just For Kicks, a column on North Shore high school soccer, appears every Wednesday in The Salem News. Contact staff writer Gianna Addario at 978-338-2615, GAddario@salemnews.com and follow her on Twitter @GiannaAddarioSN.