By Jean DePlacido
---- — DANVERS — Any time Beverly and Danvers meet it is always a hard fought game in the rivalry, but the Panther field hockey team had added motivation to win yesterday. Coach Trish Murphy was unaware she was going for her 100th victory, but all her players knew and wanted to deliver.
“The captains found out a few days ago, and we wanted to keep it a secret,” said Nicole Woods, who was outstanding. “Monday at practice we told everyone. It took us a while to get going on grass instead of the turf we play on. Not to use that as an excuse, but it is different, and we had to keep our heads up.”
Beverly clung to one goal lead at halftime, but added two insurance goals in the 3-0 shutout over the Falcons. After the game ended Woods dashed off the field to collect balloons and a bouquet of flowers to present to the coach.
“I had no idea, and the girls gave me a nice surprise,” said Murphy, holding her flowers and balloons. “Danvers is always good competition; kudos to them for giving us a tough game. That first half was especially close. We had a lot of chances but didn’t finish.”
Emily Pitman scored in a scramble in front of Danvers goalie Nicole Papamichael after taking a pass from Chloe O’Gorman at the 22:23 mark. The Panthers had applied a lot of pressure, but Papamichael made some terrific kick saves to keep her team close.
“We held them off for over 20 minutes, and I am really proud of the way my girls played,” said Falcons coach Jill McGinnity. “Beverly is a great team with very talented players, but we stepped up to the plate. I can’t say enough about the amazing job my goalie did.”
The Falcons will be tourney bound in their first season under McGinnity.
“We played together as a team, and played with heart,” the coach said. “The girls are still getting used to a new system, and we made a couple of mistakes. Beverly capitalized on their opportunities, and we didn’t. We’re getting better with each game, and our losses have come against very good teams; 9-4-1 isn’t bad.”
Beverly had 10 corners to two for Danvers. Grace Otterbein scored two goals in less than two minutes in the second half to give her team some insurance. Allison Sheehan found Otterbein all alone in front of the net, and she jammed it in. Then Kate Silvestri set up Otterbein on the second goal.
“Grace was in the perfect position and did her job as left wing,” said Silvestri. “We started a little slow, but picked it up in the second half.”
McGinnity praised Lauren Johnson for making a defensive save behind the goalie, defender Devin Johnson, and sophomore Anna O’Neill, who had some strong scoring bids.
“Anna is only a sophomore, and this is her first year playing, but she has amazing stick skills,” said McGinnity. “She’s an athlete, who is aggressive and I can’t wait to see her development.”
Murphy singled out Woods, Silvestri, and defender Amanda Marshall. The Panthers are now 12-1 atop the NEC while Danvers is in second place.
“I didn’t start to relax until Grace scored those two quick goals to give us some comfort,” said Murphy. “Being up 2-0 was nice, but that last one was even better.”
TRISH MURPHY YEAR-BY-YEAR WINS 2013: 12 2012: 16 2011: 18 2010: 19 2009: 13 2008: 15 2007: 7* *Took over during the season